Subscribers of satellite TV services will know that bad weather can cause you to lose signal.
What you may not know is that this is caused by a phenomenon called rain fade, and there is very little broadcasters can do about it.
Rain fade affects high-frequency signals, like those used by DStv and StarSat, and refers to moisture in the atmosphere absorbing the signals – causing them to attenuate.
Rain, snow, or ice in the atmosphere can cause the phenomenon.
DStv broadcasts from its satellites in frequencies ranging from 11GHz to 12GHz. To put this in perspective, the highest frequency cellphones in South Africa currently use is around 2.3GHz.
MultiChoice and StarSat (when it was still TopTV) released videos to explain rain fade to subscribers. It is not only local weather that may cause your signal to drop off, but anywhere a broadcaster receives or sends a signal.
What can be done
ExploreGate said there are several options an operator can explore to mitigate the effects of rain fade.
One is to adopt a broadcasting technology known as DVB-S2, which allows for “adaptive coding and modulation”.
In short, DVB-S2 allows broadcasters to change your signal so that it is more resistant to errors caused by rain fade.
DStv switched to DVB-S2 for its high-definition channels in June 2013.
If you are experiencing frequent signal loss during rain storms, it may be due to a problem with your installation.
Poorly-executed installations, small dishes, and sun-damaged equipment may make you more susceptible to rain fade.
DStv recommends a 90cm dish to help reduce rain fade.
It also recommended that subscribers have their installation checked every couple of years to make sure it is in optimal condition.