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 April 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.
The FCC today issued a news release (nrwl6019.txt) on its action on Wireless Docket 95-157. The action clarifies the rights of PCS licensees and incumbents "in the event they do not reach voluntary relocation agreements." It also includes a cost-sharing plan that provides incentives for early relocation of systems by A and B block PCS licenses. Frequencies affected include the 1850-1990, 2110-2150, and 2160-2200 MHz bands. The Commission prescribed a formula the clearinghouse administrator will use to determine the amount of the reimbursement required for relocation expenses. The release noted "In general, the later a PCS licensee enters the market, the lower its payment obligation under the cost-sharing plan." The Release referred to an attached chart. If and when that chart is made available electronically the link to it will be posted here.
In a News Report (nret6007.txt) posted today the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to allocate spectrum at 5.15 - 5.35 GHz. and 5.725 - 5.875 GHz. for "use by a new category of unlicensed equipment called NII/SUPERNet devices." The devices would be regulated under Part 15 of the rules to "provide protection to incumbent and proposed primary operations."
Few other technical details were available in the news release. The release stated:
The Commission also has proposed only the minimum technical standards necessary to prevent interference to other unlicensed devices and incumbent services and to ensure that the spectrum is used efficiently. The proposed rules specify power limits, out-of-band emission limits, and a basic "listen-before-talk" protocol standard. The industry is encouraged to develop any additional protocol standards believed necessary.RF Current will post the link to the NPRM when it becomes available electronically.
BusinessWire today released a news story detailing Acrodyne's sale of three Diacrode based Au60D transmitters to Christian Television Network stations WHTN - channel 39 in Nashville, WRXY - Fort Meyers, FL and WCLF in Clearwater, FL. WHTN ordered the first 120 kW transmitter, using two 60 kW Diacrode amplifiers. The other stations ordered single tube 60 kW transmitters. The 120 kW transmitter is scheduled to be in operation in mid- July, of this year.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (fcc96118.txt) released today the FCC proposed to Amend Parts 73 and 74 of the Rules to permit "certain minor changes in broadcast facilities without a construction permit." The rulemaking include exemptions for use of previously license main facilities as an auxiliary for limited period of time, provided cerain conditions are met. Full details are available in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (fcc96118.txt).
In a Public Notice (pnmc6019.txt) released today the FCC said it was now requesting parties submit either "an original and six copies (annotating two copiesas "Extra Public Copy") for regular distribution, or (2) an original and 11 copies (annotating two copies as "Extra Public Copy") to include Commissioners."
In a Public Notice (pnmm6003.txt) released today and dated April 10th, the FCC published a "Notice of Extension of Low Power Television/Television Translator "Major Change Only" Filing Window". The Public Notice stated:
The Community Broadcasters Association, the National Translator Association, and the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers requested that the scheduled filing window be postponed or extended to better accommodate the expected demand for application preparation. For good cause shown, the LPTV filing window will be extended, as requested. Accordingly, commencing April 22, 1996, and continuing to and including May 17, 1996, the Commission will permit the filing of applications for MAJOR CHANGES ONLY in existing facilities for low power television and television translator stations.
While broadcasters planned the transition to HDTV in Las Vegas, Presidential candidate and Senator from Kansas Robert Dole blasted TV station owners before the Senate. In comments printed in the Congressional Record, Dole said "TV broadcasters have broken their trust with the American people. " He continued
For more than 40 years, the American people have generously lent TV station owners our Nation's airwaves for free. Now some broadcasters want more and will stop at nothing to get it.Ignoring the fact that the spectrum currently considered for HDTV is already allocated to broadcasters and any use of it for anything other than broadcasting would likely interfere with existing analog TV reception, Dole said
The broadcasters say they cannot afford to buy additional airwaves, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates is worth at least $12 billion. Last time I checked, the American people cannot afford to give it to them free.
Senator Hollings in his reply, defended broadcasters' interests. He said:
Mr. President, I must take exception with the statements by the distinguished majority leader. What really occurred 5 years ago is that hearings both in our Committee of Commerce, which I was chairing at the time, and the Federal Communications Commission as to how to bring about high-definition television, going from the analog signal to the high-definition digital television signal--similar to how we went earlier from AM radio to FM radio and we gave away the licenses, and now most of the radio audience predominates in FM.
On this particular score, there are all kinds of problems. First, there is a problem faced by the local broadcasters. To change over from their analog signal to a digital signal is going to be a cost of somewhere between $2 and $10 million. They are not going to put that $2 to $10 million in changing over unless and until there are digital TV sets.
So working as the public body in the public interest, we reasoned, after these hearings, that there ought to be a transition to change over, to certainly not penalize established free broadcasts in America--it is not a gift, if you please, but, on the contrary, we need to get them to switch from analog to digital and then we'll take the one that they relinquished and auction it. Nobody is getting anything free. It is necessary to bring about that particular switch from the analog to the high-definition television that will truly benefit consumers.Hollings summarized the situation very well, saying
The broadcasters have not been going around soliciting or asking for a giveaway of billions of dollars or whatever it is. We have to maintain free over-the-air broadcasting. They used to have almost 100 percent of the broadcast audience. They are down to 60 percent. Cable television and direct broadcast satellites are taking over and everything of that kind. In a very real sense, we are very careful about the regular analog stations that you and I watch every day and every evening.
So the air should be clear. You can have 100 hearings. You can go back on it. You can come up with the sale and make a lot of money, but the American public is not going to be served. Auctioning the second channel would only disadvantage the American consumer. You should not reverse a well-studied and well-thought-out policy by a Republican administration and a Democratic administration, a Republican committee and a Democratic committee. We should stick with the FCC plan--it is the best way to ensure free over-the-air television and the taxpayer will benefit when the original channel is auctioned.
Digital Video Broadcasting or DVB had a booth in the hall near the technical session area demonstrating compatibility between MPEG-2 products from different member companies. As I mentioned in my March TV Technology RF Column, I expected this to be the year where we would either see a digital compression transmission standard evolve or see one company, most likely General Instrument, set a defacto standard. The DVB demo provided ample evidence a standard was in the works. The setup include TV/COM and Scientific Atlanta encoders sending compressed signals to Phillips, Tandberg, TV/COM, ComStream and Scientific Atlanta MPEG-2 digital IRDs. The results were impressive. More information is available on the DVB Home Page and in their News Section.
Speaking at the Association For Maximum Service Television, Inc. meeting April 15th at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas, FCC Commissioner Susan Ness used a crystal ball analogy in here address titled Chance or Certainty (Or, How Not To Be Behind The Eight Ball). Commissioner Ness offered words of support for broadcasters, saying "When broadcast ownership is widely held, quite simply, it is an insurance policy for democracy." She said broadcasters should be given the chance to convert to digital. However, she warned "Unless there is a firm and irrevocable requirement to return of the spectrum for auctioning, together with a firm commitment from broadcasters to effectuate the transition as quickly as possible, then the case for granting broadcasters a second channel for transition to digital would be --- as my crystal ball says -- 'very doubtful.'"
Ness did not offer support for auctioning the digital transition channels and felt the Grand Alliance Digital TV standard should be adopted, saying
"Unless significant flaws have been uncovered, I believe that we should propose at our May meeting to adopt the Grand Alliance standard. Given the openness of the process and years of consideration, including previous Commission decisions, I approach this issue with the belief that the burden of showing why we should not mandate the standard lies with the proponents of that view."
Ness noted that three phases remain in the FCC's ATV rulemaking process. First, the transmission standard needs to be addressed. Second, an allotment plan needs to be designed to "carve up the spectrum". And finally, rules need to be established "for the transition and for governing the service to be offered."
Yesterday morning, at a press conference led by Michael Jordon, Chairman and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Westinghouse demonstrated an over the air transmission of an HDTV signal using a transmitter with a silicion carbide transistor based amplifier. The test were transmitted on channel 52 from the KLAS studios in Las Vegas and received by the ATTC's field test van.
More details are available in the Westinghouse Press Release. More technical details are available in the April 15th RF Current.
In News Release (nrmm6016.txt) "the Commission proposed rules which would extend the license term for television and radio stations to eight years, with the exception of experimental broadcast station license terms which would remain one year." This was one of the statutory provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Yesterday's FCC Daily Digest also stated "The Commission has adopted an Order implementing Section 204(a) of the Telecommunications Act", amending renewal procedures. Full details are available in News Release (nrmm6017.txt) of 1996 ( Telecom Act ).
Westinghouse was proudly showing its new all solid state high power ATV transmitter. Paul Degonia from Westinghouse said the silicon carbide "Static Induction Transistors" (SIT) at the show were capable of 250 watts peak power each. The PA modules at the show are capable of putting out 1000 watts peak power, but this is expected to increased to 2000 watts by next NAB. Degonia said Westinghouse's mission was to continue improvement and "productization" of the transistors, conduct reliability tests if the SIT and associated modules and build up, test and complete development of a production version of the SIT based transmitter.
Westinghouse, in conjunction with CBS, will be conducting over the air testing of the transmitter (operating at low power) on channel 52. In response to a question from Dane Ericksen, Paul Degonia said while Westinghouse may try testing NTSC with the transmitter, perhaps Thursday, the present focus was on digital ATV.
At the end his paper on UHF ATV transmitter options and introduction of the new Comark ADvantage transmitter, Nat Ostroff put a slide of a strange looking device on the screen and declared "Don't write off vacuum tubes!" The odd device was a multibeam IOT device capable of operating at IOT power levels, but with 4 KV less collector voltage and with much more gain - 26 dB. The device, still in the prototype stage, is being developed by Svetlana tubes in Russia.
In an announcement released on the Business Wire, Acrodyne Communications, Inc. said it would sell its first 180 KW Diacrode transmitter to WTXL, channel 27, in Tallahassee. The installation will be done in stages, starting with a single tube 60 KW transmitter that will later be upgraded to 120 KW and finally to 180 KW.
The Acrodyne Au60D Diacrode transmitter continues to generate interest among broadcasters. Other orders or either signed or pending for additional transmitters in Florida and Tennessee.
Business Wire reported today that DG Systems will use Hughes DirectPC mini-dish satellite data service to deliver compressed video commercials to over 50 TV stations, including KABC and KCBS in Los Angeles and WSVN in Miami. DG Systems' DG ADvantage Digital Video Playback System (DVPS) can store 250 30 second spots its 9 GB hard drive.
DG System joins IndeNet in offering compressed digital delivery of commercials to TV stations via satellite. See the March 1996 RF Current for more details on this project. It will be interest to see if one or more of these new systems becomes a viable replacement for the slow and expensive but well established videotape distribution of spots.
INTER@CTIVE WEEK carried an interesting article on the future of HDTV, with particular emphasis on the Media Access Project's argument against loaning broadcasters a second channel for digital TV. HDTV: The Future or Just A Ploy?, available on ZDnet, is recommended reading.
As reported earlier this week, the FCC moved to preempt local restrictions on TV broadcast (TVBS) and MMDS antennas. If this NPRM is adopted, TV viewers in communities where outdoor TV antennas are prohibited will finally get some relief. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 96-151) said
"...Section 207 expands the range of preemption to include non-governmental entities such as homeowners' associations, the Order and Further Notice proposes a per se preemption of restrictions imposed by non-governmental entities as they affect reception of DBS signals. Pursuant to the 1996 Act, in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, we propose a rule regarding prohibitions of restrictions on antennas and other means of receiving TVBS and MMDS over-the-air video programming signals that is similar to the rule for DBS,"
Several news releases today focus on manufacturers introducing products for new digital TV sets. Samsung announced it was using C-Cube's MPEG-2 set-top design in its digital TV's for KoreaSAT and cable service. C-Cube announced that "... BetaTechnik, a major video systems integrator, has selected C-Cube to supply both the MPEG-2 digital video decoding and encoding technology for the KirchGroup program, Germany's first digital television system. Finally, EE Times ran an article in this week's edition stating that SGS-Thomson Microelectronics (STM) has developed an inexpensive integrated digital front-end chip for DBS.
Even though Digital ATV appears years away in the United States, it is encouraging to see major companies like C-Cubed, Samsung and SGS-Thomson working on digital TV receiver chip sets. The implication for broadcasters is that inexpensive digital TV receivers may be available in the market before widespread digital ATV transmission begins. This should help speed the transition from analog to digital TV.
In a press release issued today Pacific Telesis said it bought wireless digital TV licenses in 11 markets. Michael Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Pacific Telesis Enterprises said "Now we can bring more channels of top television programming and movies to more customers in greater Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area, beginning early next year, This purchase significantly enhances the value of our existing wireless video capacity in California and our pending purchase of wireless properties in Washington, South Carolina and Florida." PacTel bid almost 21 million dollars for the FCC authorizations in these markets.
The FCC today issued a news release (nrci5009.txt) describing its policy on consumer electronic interference complaints. The release noted that the FCC was unable to solve most of the interference problems "because the cause of this interference is the design or construction of these products and not a violation of any FCC rule." The release did note, however, that "the Compliance and Information Bureau will continue to take appropriate enforcement action where it has been determined that the interference is caused by violations of the Communications Act or the Commission's rules or policies." More details and contact information is available in the news release (nrci5009.txt).
The FCC today released its list of experiment licenses issued in February, 1996. Interesting items on the list included a license to Millitech Corporation for operation on 40.5-42.5 GHz. "to demonstrate and test the viability of this band for MMDS. Fixed stations are authorized in most major markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Boston, Atlanta and Miami.
U.S. West Communications, Inc. received a license to test and demonstrate equipment in the 27.5-28.35 GHz. band, both fixed and mobile, in Boulder Colorado. David Sarnoff Research Center was given a license in the 25.25 to 27.5 GHz. band to develop and test a wireless broadband system under contract with the USAF. Another "new technology" license was granted to Innova Corporation for development of digital microwave radios and antennas, both fixed and mobile, in the 21.2 to 23.6 GHz. band.
Today's FCC Daily Digest reported an action by the Commission April 2nd adopting an order implementing Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and prohibiting restrictions on TV and MMDS antennas. RF Current will publish the link to the NPRM when it becomes available.
Business Wire revealed more details on the model HDTV project in a release to business editors today. Sponsors of the project include the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) and a division of the Electronic Industries Association (EIA). James McKinney, one of HDTV's pioneers, will be Project Director.
It was not clear from this release if the model HDTV station is the same project as the WETA HDTV project announced last week, although the sponsors of the model HDTV project said it would take place in Washington D.C, where WETA is located. The model station will provide an opportunity to demonstrate HDTV transmission as well as auxiliary data transmission. It will also provide a test bed for evaluation of HDTV equipment. More information will be released at the NAB convention later this month.
The FCC released the electronic version of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Engineering Technology Docket No. 96-35. This rulemaking would amend parts 74, 78 and 101 of the FCC Rules to allow use of minimum beam-width specifications instead of minimum gain requirements to show compliance with FCC interference standards. The Commission said this would allow the use of modern flat antennas which, through the use of multiple radiators, would meet beam width requirements in spite of lower gain due to the splitter losses in the array. While the text version of the NPRM is easy to read, the tables do not appear correctly. If you can read WordPerfect 5.1 files, the word processor version is better.
Today the FCC granted GE American's application fora replacement satellite at 87 degrees west longitude, designated GE-4. (From FCC Daily Digest)
In an article headlined Coming to a PBS station near you: HDTV appearing in Monday's EE Times, George Leopold outlines PBS station WETA's plans to build a "full-blown HDTV broadcast facility. Nando Times also reported on the WETA project in its March 27th InfoTech section. Scroll through the headlines to find the article. Direct links to Nando Times articles have been unreliable in the past. Thanks to RF Current reader Aldo G. Cugnini at Phillips Research labs for alerting me to this news.
The latest NAB Convention Broadcast Engineering Schedule notes the Wednesday engineering session on Improving and Controlling Signal Quality from 2-5 PM includes a presentation by Glenda O. Benham on the MegaWave Set-Top. This antenna is featured in the CNN Interactive Technology section's Tomorrow/Today column.
The Community Broadcasters' Association, the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers (AFCCE) and the Translator Association have joined together to ask the Commission to delay or extend the filing window for LPTV modifications announced March 18th. As reported in last week's RF Current, LPTV broadcasters and consulting engineers alike are dismayed over the filing window's close proximity to the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, a week before fhe window opens. While the support of these associations should be sufficient to obtain action, anyone wishing to comment should write or e-mail Roy J. Stewart, Chief of the Mass Media Bureau. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
If your browser has been configured for mail (select Options - Mail and News Preferences in Netscape), you can click on the address above and send an e-mail now.
Today the FCC posted the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - ET Docket No. 96-8. The Commission proposes numerous technical modifications to spread spectrum operation in the 902-928 MHz, 2400-2483.5 MHz. and 5725-5850 MHz. bands. Of particular interest is the proposal to eliminate the limit on directional gain antennas for spread sprectrum transmitters in the 5800 MHz. band. While the Commission proposed that limits remain in place on the lower frequencies where most most omni-directional and consumer units operate, it invited comments on whether the 6 dB limit on directional antenna gain in the 2450 MHz. band be eliminated as well. Comments are also invited on the possible RF radiation hazards associated with high gain antennas. Please refer to the NPRM for full details.
LMDS, or Local Multipoint Distribution Service, is one of the new wireless technologies on the horizon. Utilizing frequencies in the 28 GHz. band, this service will allow high speed data and/or video transmission for consumer and business uses. If sufficient sites can be deployed to overcome the range limitations inherent at such high frequencies, this service could become a serious competitor to existing TV broadcast, cable and telephone services The Business Wire story sent to editors today said Hewlett Packard and Stanford Telecommunications, Inc. had a "memorandum of understanding" to "work together to establish product requirements and develop a prototype system for a fully interactive, all-digital platform that would enable rapid deployment of low-cost, high-quality local multipoint distribution service (LMDS) technology." . No links with additional data were available. Check the web sites for Hewlett Packard and Stanford Telecom for possible news or product releases.
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