IRS Systems (Integrated Reception Systems) for Digital TV in MDU’s
What is an Integrated Reception System?
An Integrated Reception System (IRS) is a Digital TV aerial system installed in a multiple dwelling
building (or a number of buildings) to provide a range of TV services to the residents in each dwelling.
An IRS comes in many different shapes and sizes, but in it’s simplest form is a combination of a television
aerial, DAB radio aerial, an FM radio aerial and a satellite dish which are installed at the top of
the building to collect an array of signals which can then be distributed to each resident who is connected
to the system.
How does an IRS system work?
Prior to distribution around the building, signals are collected from the aerials & dish and fed into
an electronic “Head-end” which amplifies & combines the signals and filters out any unwanted interference.
These signals are then distributed into every dwelling via screened coax Consumer Cables fixed which
discretely to the outside of the building. Note, In some cases where external cabling is not possible,
it may be possible to route cables internally through risers or conduit through the communal parts of
the building – this is usually considered a last resort due to increased noise and resident disturbance
as well as additional cost and time required within each dwelling.
The IRS system’s Consumer Cables usually terminate at the main TV point in the resident’s flat giving
them “plug & play” capability for services such as Sky, Sky+, Sky HD, Freesat, Freeview, DAB & FM radio.
The choice of services available through the installed IRS system is dependent upon the specification
chosen by the Landlord. It is also important to point out that whether or not the resident receives
these services depends upon their choice of digital TV platform, the digital decoders (Set Top Boxes)
they own/purchase and whether they choose to subscribe to services such as Sky.
Sky+ compatible IRS systems
Sky+ (record, pause & rewind) is now the standard offering from Sky and, as such most residents and
landlords are choosing to upgrade to this specification as a minimum. The main difference between a
Sky+ & a Sky only IRS system is that a Sky+ system provides 2 consumer cables into every dwelling (instead
of one) and a 4 node TV Face Plate. It is usually quite easy for a resident to identify whether they
have a Sky or a Sky+ system by looking at the TV outlet within their premises – if it has 3 nodes on
the face plate (including 1 “Sat” node) then the system will probably not be able to provide Sky+ services.
Other IRS System Configurations
It is also possible to add additional Foreign Satellite services to an IRS system to cater for blocks
where there is a high degree of diversity or where there is a demand for non-English programming.
These configurations are usually called 9-wire, 13-wire or 17-wire systems and are installed based on
similar principals to what is described above. The main and most obvious difference will be the number
of Satellite dishes required to serve the new system (a 9-wire system has 2 dishes, a 13-wire system
has 3 dishes and a 17 wire system has 4 dishes). These systems also usually incorporate a larger “Head-end”
and additional consumer cables to bring the additional services into each residents home. For further
Free advice on TV system upgrade options, please contact our business development team on
or on the phone 0844 5588612
Fibre Optic TV/Satellite System - How Does It Work?
Many new digital TV systems are now being designed using a Fibre Optic fed TV system rather than the
standard copper coax systems.
How do the systems work?
Via a Fibreglass Dish (ideal for use in extreme environmental conditions) and a full band LNB, the four
satellite polarisations can be distributed down a single cable (unlike conventional IRS system). A terrestrial
processor is also installed at the head end to filter the digital TV signals, which is then split and
connected to each Out Door Unit (ODU) along with the IF signal from the full band LNB.
From the ODU signals are converted and the terrestrial and satellite signals are outputted via fibre.
At this point all digital TV, radio and the satellite signals are available on each ODU on a single
fibre optic cable.
The fibre optic outputs from the ODU are then fed into the distribution system which is designed to
deliver the signal to every home via a Passive Optical Network (PON). At the resident end a fibre converter
known as a Gateway Termination Unit GTU) is installed within each dwelling to receive the optical signal
via the Passive Optical Network (PON). The GTU then performs a de-stacking frequency conversion and
outputs the required TV, Radio and Satellite signals.
As standard, a QUAD GTU is installed in each property providing four signals, to serve either 4 x TV
& satellite points or 2 x Sky Plus TV and satellite points within the dwelling. However, it is possible
to increase the number of ports at each dwelling, with the installation of a QUATRO GTU and a conventional
satellite multi-switch unit. This can provide as many as 32+ TV, Radio & Satellite points in each dwelling
- all still fed from the single incoming fibre cable in each home!