Sunny weather causes interference in satellite and radio communications

The summer weather this weekend can lead to disruption of signals. It involves antenna and radio, but satellite viewers can also lose the signal for a while.

The interference is most noticeable in radio reception. For example, when listening in the car, a Dutch channel can suddenly be “pushed away” by a foreign channel. This is especially true when listening to radio stations via FM. At the moment, it is mainly channels from England and southern European countries that are pushing away legal Dutch channels. If you listen via the Digital Radio Network DAB+ and the radio is automatically searched for new stations, it is possible that (more) foreign stations can be listened to temporarily.

The weather conditions can also cause short-term disturbances for viewers and listeners with KPN’s digital antenna. In Europe, the same frequency spectrum is often used for DVB-T2. It is therefore possible that transmitters radiated via foreign cell towers cause interference in the Netherlands. This interference often manifests itself in a blocked or still image. The complete pushing away of Dutch channels as can happen with FM, occurs sporadically with DVB-T2.

The reason for these failures is a temperature inversion in the atmosphere. At high air pressure, the upper air heats up. Especially at night, when the Earth cools down or when warm air is over the cool sea, an inversion layer then forms in the atmosphere. Below that layer, radio and tv signals are forced to move along the Earth’s surface. Thus, they reach further than usual, because due to the curvature of the Earth, ether transmitters cannot normally cross the horizon, and the range is limited. As a result, channels from surrounding countries can often be received with us in good weather. This can be accompanied by a disturbed signal on Dutch radio stations.

With satellite, the malfunction has another cause, which is weather-related. With the current summer weather, thunderstorms with heavy rainfall are not excluded. That rain doesn’t necessarily have to fall at the satellite viewer’s home. The satellite signal is transmitted to the satellite at certain points in Europe. For Canal Digitaal, this is done in the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Should heavy rainfall occur at the uplink, the satellite signal of all transmitters radiated from this point will be temporarily disturbed for all viewers within the service area. Because providers such as Ziggo and KPN – incidentally a small number – pick up channels for distribution via the satellite’s own network, this can also temporarily disrupt the reception of these channels by several tv providers.