RF CURRENT - February 1996

Welcome to RF Current, a weekly electronic newsletter focusing on Broadcast technical and F.C.C. related issues. This newsletter is part of The RF Page @ www.transmitter.com, a web site devoted to TV Broadcast RF engineering. For more information see the What is... guide to the R.F. Page site.

This page contains stories from RF Current issues published in February 1996. Links referenced in the articles were current when published but by this time may have changed. If you find a bad link, try connecting to the home page of the publication or company and look for an archive of past articles.

February 26, 1996 - Issue 14 Final

HDTV - EE Times Reports GOP to link ATV spectrum auction to budget bill (Feb. 26)

An article in Monday's EE Times reported Senate Republicans intend to put the digital-TV spectrum auction issue on a fast track and may link it to an extension of federal funding budget resolution.

FCC Commisioner Quello Opposes ATV Spectrum Auction (Feb 23)

FCC Commissioner James Quello, in his February 23rd Quello's Column, opposed an auction of digital-TV spectrum. He stated:

"At the end of this transition period, broadcasters will be required to return one of their channels, at which point they will be left with exactly what they have now -- one 6 MHz channel. So it is a mischaracterization to say, as some do, that broadcasters are being "given" a second channel for free. The second channel would be merely a loaner for a fixed period of time, for the purpose of implementing the country's transition to digital television."
He strengthened the argument by saying that "the industry has already contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to develop digital TV" and
"Finally, at the end of the transition period, the returned spectrum will be able to be "repacked," thereby creating one contiguous block of spectrum--a much more valuable commodity than the disparate swatches of spectrum that now exist. The repacked spectrum could then be auctioned off for huge amounts of money."
He continued
"Forcing broadcasters to pay for their digital spectrum would weaken the financial position of many stations, particularly those in smaller markets and jeopardize the continued viability of free over-the-air television as we now know it." ... "Why should desirable programming be denied to persons too poor or geographically remote to have access to cable TV?"

Quello's Column has a form where readers can send him their comments.

FCC Grants Experimental Licenses at 2 and 38 GHz. (Feb. 23)

Friday the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology released reports outlining experimental licenses granted in October 1995, December and January. Several licenses were issued for nationwide testing of PCS gear in the 1850 to 1990 GHz. band -- refer for the reports for details.

Hughes Aircraft Company was granted a license to "develop and demonstrate spread-spectrum digital communications for the command and control of mass transportation systems on 2402.5 - 2481 MHz." in the Los Angeles, Oakland, New York and Boston metro areas. Harris Corporation received a license to "test and demonstrate an integrated circuit chipset targeted at direct sequence spread spectrum applications on 2412 - 2462 MHz." in Brevard County, Florida. David Sarnoff Research Center was issued a license for test and development of low-power short-range transceivers using frequencies between 38.60 to 38.65 GHz. and 39.95 to 40.00 GHz. Finally, AP Technoglass received authorization for a transmitter to test "antennas printed on the rear window of a vehicle in the 88 - 108 MHz band" at Elizabethtown Kentucky.

SCIENCE - Scientists Define Control of Chaos in Electronic Circuit (Feb. 22)

A news release from Johns Hopkins University, reprinted in ScienceDaily reports Johns Hopkins University assistant professor Ernst Niebur and University of Kiel professor Heinz Schuster in Germany have found equations that determine under what conditions chaotic systems can be controlled. Scientist Earle Hunt and others at Ohio University in Athens were able to test the theory on an electronic circuit developed by Hunt. The article should be interesting reading for anyone who has had to adjust a high power TV transmitter's exciter system.

February 19, 1996 - Issue 13 Final

FCC Announces Agenda for En Blanc Hearing on Spectrum Policy (Feb. 16)

Representatives from users of the RF spectrum - from public service agencies to cellular telephone providers and broadcasters will meet at the FCC on March 5th to discuss how spectrum will be allocated in the future, the effect of new technology on spectrum needs and when auctions are appropriate. Attendees include Lynn Claudy, Senior Vice President of Science and Technology, National Association of Broadcasters, Dale N. Hatfield, Senior Consultant, Hatfield and Associates, Glenn Reitmeier, Director, High Definition Imaging and Multimedia Laboratory, David Sarnoff Research Center, and Jonathan D. Blake, Partner, Covington & Burling, on behalf of Maximum Service Television, Inc.

SCIENCE -ScienceDaily article reveals carpal tunnel syndrome risk factors. (Feb. 16)

ScienceDaily's Friday edition reported on a study done at Purdue University that developed a model for predicting the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful disorder of the hand and wrist often associated with extensive keyboard use. Compare your keyboard posture with the risk factors mentioned in the article before it's too late!

SATELLITE - Inexpensive digital satellite receiver assembly introduced (Feb. 15)

Real World Technology LTD announced Thursday it had designed a L-band tuner card for digital and analog satellite reception. They claim the bill of materials cost is under ten dollars. Channel decoder modules including QPSK demodulation, clock recovery and forward error correction are under development for European DVB reception. The modules will eventually be a single chip device. The small tuner cards can be installed in VCR's, TV sets or PC's. Full details on the design, including photos and technical details, are available at Real World Technology's web site. A press release dated February 12th has more information on this product. Inexpensive receiver and demodulator/decoder technology such as this are a good indication that inexpensive digital TV receivers with less than HDTV displays are possible.

FCC Commissioners speak on impact of Telecom Act of '96 on TV (Feb. 15)

Commissioner Rachelle B. Chong in a speech Thursday before the Midwest Chapter of the Federal Communications Bar Association in Chicago, Illinois said "we are awaiting further instructions from the Hill on this point" on an auction of digital TV channels for ATV. The Act does require the broadcasters to give up their analog channel at the end of the digital transition period. Commissioner Chong said "the Commission will have to set a timetable for the transition through a rulemaking." Congress detailed some of the changes in broadcast ownership limitations and sent others back to the FCC for action. She added "The FCC will be adopting appropriate orders and rulemaking notices to implement these changes immediately. One order may come out as soon as tomorrow, with an omnibus Mass Media order planned for March."

Chairman Reed Hundt addressed the Digital Technology Symposium sponsored by the Artists Rights Foundation in Los Angeles California. He focused on the program content of TV broadcasts, saying "Maybe the wonderful invention of digital television provides new opportunities, new outlets for the kind of programming I believe you want to produce but are frustrated by market forces, programming that truly educates and informs. "

HDTV - Nando News reports White House economist prefers channel auctions. (Feb. 14)

Refer to the copyrighted article from the Associated Press in Nando News for details in this difference in opinion between the President and his Chief Economist.

February 12, 1996 - Issue 12 Final

FCC reacts to Telecom Act - Enacts 21 proposals to "reinvent" itself (Feb. 9)
In a News Release (nrmc6008.txt) the FCC revealed 21 proposals to change its rules and operation to bring it in line with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 signed yesterday. The news release provides a good review of how the Act will affect users of the RF spectrum. In another News Release (nrmc6009.txt) the FCC announced it had "adopted a Notice of Inquiry seeking suggestions from all interested parties on how best to streamline its processes and improve its delivery of services."
TELECOM - President Clinton signs Telecommunications Act of '96 into Law (Feb. 8)
The White House web site has full details on the President's signing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In his remarks at the signing the President compared the act to the Interstate Highway Act signed by President Eisenhower, noting "The Interstate Highway Act literally brought Americans closer together. We were connected city to city, town to town, family to family, as we had never been before. That law did more to bring Americans together than any other law this century, and that same spirit of connection and communication is the driving force behind the Telecommunications Act of 1996." There was no mention of digital TV for broadcasters in the remarks or the formal statement. The largest reference to broadcasters came in praise of the Act's mandated "V-Chip" to allow parents to filter out undesirable programs. The V chip will use a signal on line 21 of the vertical blanking interval to identify each program's rating.
ANTENNA TOWER owners now responsible for painting and lighting (Feb. 7)
The final rule on streamlining Antenna Structure Clearance Procedure appeared in Tuesday's Federal Register. While tower owners bear primary responsbility for registering and maintaining the structures, the rule noted that if a licensee on the tower "otherwise has reason to question whether the antenna structure owner is carrying out its responsibility under this part, the licensee or permittee must take immediate steps to ensure that the antenna structure is brought into compliance and remains in compliance." In the event the owner fails to take steps to bring the structure into compliance the FCC can require licensees to maintain the tower.
BUSINESS - ADC Telecommunications to buy transmitter maker ITS (Feb. 6)
Nando News reported in an article yesterday that ADC Telecommunications would purchase ITS for about $34 million in stock. ITS is a major supplier of LPTV equipment and, as reported last week, provided transmitters for a major wireless cable operation in Alaska. The Nando article indicated that the ADC Telecom purchase was to give it "a foothold in the wireless cable market". ITS also manufactures TV broadcast exciters used by other high power transmitter companies and plans to introduce a high power VHF solid state transmitter at this year's NAB Convention in April. I received the complete press release from ITS Corporation February 7th.
FCC proposes mandatory coordination for Puerto Rico Licenses (Feb. 6)
In a News Report (nret6002.txt) released last week the FCC "proposed applicants for a new station or for a modification in facilities within the requested Coordination Zone simultaneously notify the Arecibo Observatory of the technical particulars of the proposed operations no later than the time of filing their applications with the Commission. This would apply to certain services operating under Parts 5, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 73, 74, 78, 80, 87, 90, 94, 95, and 97 of the rules. Mobile transmitters would not be affected When this proposal first appeared last year, broadcasters in Puerto Rico were concerned that strict emission limits could hinder new applications for auxiliary licenses as well as their main station licenses.
FCC Chairman Hundt sees competition the keystone in telecom policy (Feb. 6)
In a speech before the Washington Research Group's Third Annual Telecom Workshop in Washington D.C. Reed Hundt looked to the future of telecommunications under the new Telecommunications Act. "Our spectrum policy should be to make more spectrum available to the private sector, as quickly as possible, and to provide wide latitude for market forces to guide that spectrum to its highest-valued use. By relying on market forces and flexible uses, we not only foster innovation and competition, but also stimulate infrastructure investment, job creation, and efficient spectrum use. This is the lesson of PCS, and we intend to adopt it as a blueprint for the future." In the speech he also addresses the potential for the Internet under higher speed data connections, LMDS and satellite operations with new spectrum at 28 GHz., new services around 40 GHz. and, finally, DTV - Digital TV.

February 5, 1996 - Issue 11 Final

TELECOM - Telecommunications Act of 1996 Sent to the President (Feb. 01)
The US Congress agreed on a consolidated Telecommunications bill and sent it to the President for his signature. The issue of spectrum auctions for broadcasters' digital ATV channel was not addressed in the final version of the bill. I'll have more information on the Act's affect on broadcast engineering in next week's RF Current. Meanwhile. here is a summary of information on the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (S.652) available on the Internet:
SCIENCE - Researchers Suggest How Sleep Re-Charges the Brain (Feb. 01)
ScienceDaily in an article titled Stanford Researchers Suggest How Sleep Re-Charges The Brain outlined some of the scientists' findings about sleep. Transmitter engineers who often must work overnight after sign-off will find the results interesting. Findings suggest that sleep serves to recharge the brain with a by providing nourishment with particular sugar, glycogen, produced in the body. The researchers also found a chemical, Adenosine, which triggers the drowsiness associated with lack of sleep. Caffeine blocks adenosine action on brain cells, hiding the symptoms of lack of sleep but not replacing the glycogen. Would coffee and donuts together work better?
WIRELESS - Alaska Choice uses UHF LPTV for "wireless cable" (Jan. 30)
Dale Dalesio at ITS informed me ITS sold 25 ITS-825 500 W solid state UHF LPTV transmitters for Alaska Choice's operation in Fairbanks, Alaska and 16 ITS-830 1 KW UHF LPTV units for the Anchorage operation. An earlier RF Current article (Jan. 23) surmised the transmitters were supplied by Acrodyne, which wasn't the case. More wireless "cable" operators are looking to UHF TV channels instead of the usual 2.5 GHz. MMDS frequencies for their operations. In light of the FCC apparent indifference to LPTV operators in the current Advanced TV proceeding, it will be ironic if LPTV stations become the first to use the Grand Alliance's SDTV multichannel digital transmission standard.

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Last modified March 26, 1996 by Doug Lung dlung@transmitter.com
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