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 June 1998. 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. If you find a changed link, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know by dropping me a note indicating the new location at dlung@transmitter.com.

June 29, 1998 - Issue 122 Delayed Final Edition

FCC - PanAmSat and Hughes File Requests for STA to Test - Relocate Satellites (June 29)
In a Public Notice posted Monday, the FCC listed three requests for STAs (Special Temporary Authorizations) from PanAmSat Corporation and one from Hughes Communications Galaxy, Inc. One of the more interesting STA requests was from PanAmSat to continue telemetry, tracking and control communications with the Galaxy 4 satellite. PanAmSat experienced problems with the Galaxy 4 satellite last month. See the May 25, 1998 RF Current for information on the G4 failure. Hughes was able to maintain communication with the satellite and move it to another location, in spite of failure of the spacecraft control processor.

PanAmSat Corporation also filed a request for an STA to perform in-orbit testing of the Galaxy X satellite at 127 degrees W.L. for up to 90 days. The FCC Public Notice said Galaxy X is scheduled to be launched on July 10, 1998. Its assigned location is 123 degrees W.L. In addition, PanAmSat asked for permission to relocate the Brasilsat A1 satellite from 79 degrees W.L. to 144 degrees W.L. and to operate the Brasilsat A1 satellite at 144 degrees W.L. for 180 days.

Hughes Communications Galaxy, Inc. requested an STA for up to 180 days to perform telemetry, tracking and control communications with HGS-1 at 152 degrees W.L. This satellite is the former AsiaSat 3. It was stranded due to a launch malfuunction.

SCIENCE - New Satellite Data Shows Retreat of El Nino (June 26)
NASA's TOPEX/Poseidon satellite shows El Nino's warm, high sea level waters in retrest in the Pacific. Dr. Lee-Lueng Fu, project scientist for the U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon mission at JPL commented that "Sea level is a measure of the heat stored in the ocean. In the last month or so, the tropical Pacific has been switching from warm to cold." "It appears now the central equatorial Pacific Ocean will stay colder than normal for some time to come because sea level is about seven inches below normal, creating a deficit in the heat supply to the surface waters. It is not clear yet, however, if this current cooling trend will eventually evolve into a long-lasting La Nina situation."

More information on these findings and satellite images are available in a report on the JPL El Nino Watch page.

FCC Releases Procedures For Licensees Using INTELSAT Satellites Being Transfered to New Skies Satellite (June 25
Users of FCC licensed earth stations that wish to continue using the INTELSAT satellites being transfered to New Skies Satellite, N.V. must submit a modification application (FCC Form 312) by Friday, July 17, 1998. The FCC Public Notice said:
"Licensees must identify the New Skies satellite with which their earth stations will communicate. The Commission will consider these modification applications in light of the DISCO II Order requirements. To continue to provide existing services to customers after asset transfer and prior to a Commission decision on the modification application, licensees may submit a request for Special Temporary Authority pursuant to Section 309 of the Communications Act and Section 25.120 of the Commission s Rules."
INTELSAT satellites being transfered to New Skies includes INTELSAT 513 at 183 degrees East, 703 at 57 degrees East, 803 at 338.5 degrees East and 806 at 319.5 degrees East. These satellites operate on both C and Ku-band. The Ku-band only INTELSAT K at 338.5 degrees East is also being transfered. More information is available in the FCC Public Notice - Report DS-1851.

SAFETY - New Study Indicates Lightning Can Kill Without Leaving A Mark (June 25)
Researchers in Colorado have identified a way in which lightning can kill without leaving a visible sign of electrical current entering or leaving a person's body. The research team calculated that in these cases, intense magnetic fields resulting form lightning may induce fatal electrical currents entirely within the body. One of the researchers, Dr. Howard Wachtel of the University of Colorado at Boulder's electrical and computer engineering department said that while the results of the research are still speculative, "...our calculations indicate the magnetically induced currents within the body during a vulnerable cardiac period could be strong enough to disrupt and fibrillate the heart, possibly causing death."

Dr. Wachtel advised people caught outdoors in lightning storms to "run to their vehicles and jump in if time permits." If that isn't possible assume a "baseball-catcher position with their feet close together and hold their hands over their ears to minimize the impact of the electrical field of lightning and the accompanying noise." More information in a University of Colorado Press Release.

FCC Releases Recon Memorandum Opinion and Order on Unlicensed NII Devices in the 5 GHz Band (June 24)
The FCC addressed Petitions for Reconsideration filed in ET Docket 96-102, which provided for operation of unlicensed devices in the 5 GHz frequency range, in a Memorandum Opinion and Order released today. The FCC amended its rules to permit fixed point-to-point Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure ("U-NII") devices in the 5.725-5.825 GHz band to operate with one watt maximum transmitter power and with directional antennas with up to 23 dBi gain. The Commission also amended the rules "to specify power limits in the form of a logarithmic equation as a function of channel bandwidth." They also clarified rules regarding unwanted emissions and addressed and clarified other issues raised in the Reconsideration filings. For complete details, see the full text of the Memorandum Opinion and Order FCC 98-121.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap980625.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac980629.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

OTHER Items of Interest

June 22, 1998 - Issue 121 Delayed Final Edition

SATELLITE - INTELSAT 805 Successfully Launched (June 18)
INTELSAT announced that the INTELSAT 805 communications satellite was successfully launched aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS launch vehicle. INTELSAT 805 will be deployed at 304.5 degrees E. It was designed to provide connectivity over the Americas and Europe. C-bands E.I.R.P. levels up to 40 dBW are available from the satellite. This power allows receive dishes as small as 1.8 meters for applications such as Internet backbone connectivity. More information is available on the INTELSAT 805 Web Page. INTELSAT 805 Coverage Maps are also available. This article was based on an INTELSAT Press Release.

DTV - Australia Selects European DVB-T DTV Transmission System (June 18)
Dow Jones News Service reported that Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting Selection Panel had selected the DVB-T system over the U.S. ATSC system. Details on the results of the Australian DVB-T and ATSC DTTB modulations systems is available at http://www.commslab.gov.au/lab/rep/rep/9804/9804_001.htm. (Thanks to Ron Economos for this link!)

DTV - Taiwan Adopts The ATSC Digital Television Standard (June 17)
ATSC issued a Press Release concerning the government of Taiwan's adoption of the ATSC DTV Standard for digital terrestrial television broadcasts in Taiwan last month. The Taiwan plan's timetable matches the one mandated by the FCC - analog TV terrestrial broadcasts are targeted to end by 2006. Full scale DTV broadcasts are planned for 2001. More details, including quotes from Robert Graves, Chairman of the ATSC, are available in the ATSC Press Release.

DATA - WavePhore extends Wavetop Coverage to Top 100 Markets (June 17)
WavePhore, Inc., in a Press Release issued today, said its WaveTop vertical blanking interval (VBI) based free, advertiser supported nationwide consumer data broadcasting network is now available in the top 100 TV markets. Most of the distribution is through its partnership with the PBS National Datacast service, which represents 264 PBS member stations. Many PC TV Tuner cards come with software to receive the service. It can also be downloaded from the WaveTop web site. The software will also be part of the Microsoft Windows 98 operating system. According to the WaveTop site, at this time the software will not work under Windows NT nor will it work with laptops. More information and a list of the stations carrying the WaveTop signal in the top 100 markets is available in the WaveTop Press Release.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap980616.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

OTHER Items of Interest

June 1-15, 1998 - Issue 120 Delayed Final Edition

FCC Adopts "Navigation Devices" Rules for Set Top Boxes (June 11)
The FCC began the process of opening the market for cable TV set top boxes and associated devices such as remote control units. By July 1, 2000, multichannel video programming distributors must separate security functions from non-security functions in remote control boxes. This will allow consumers to purchase the navigation boxes sources unaffiliated with the programming distributor. After January 1, 2005, the sale or lease of new integrated boxes will be prohibited. The FCC has allowed an exception to the rule where integrated boxes work throughout the continental United States and are commercially available from unaffiliated sources. Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers should fall under this provision.

The action was taken under Section 629 of the Communications Act, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 629 instructed the Commission to "adopt regulations to assure the commercial availability, to consumers . . . of . . . equipment used . . . to access multichannel video programming and other services offered over multichannel video programming systems, from manufacturers, retailers, and other vendors not affiliated with any multichannel video programming distributor."

FCC Chairman William Kennard, in a separate statement noted "this item is the beginning of a long process." In particular, he stated that "that is important to me is that any new navigation devices be able to interact with digital televisions and that these devices not impede the development of digital television in any way. The introduction of digital television is one of the most important initiatives for the Commission and I am monitoring the transition closely to ensure that American consumers receive the full benefits of the digital transition." In her Separate Statement, Commissioner Susan Ness also expressed concern about how well set top boxes will work with DTV receivers. She stated "I believe we should also consider whether and to what extent these devices will work with new DTV receivers." "It may not be sufficient to rely on the open-ended time frame for adoption of the 1394 "firewire" standard and it may not be sufficient to hope that the devices will work with all ATSC formats. If it becomes apparent that the goals of Section 629 are not being fulfilled because of consumer confusion over DTV compatibility, I would hope and expect the Commission would revisit the matter."

More information is available in FCC Report CS 98-11. The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) praised the action. See the CEMA Press Release for details.

FCC Proposes 75 MHz of 5.9 GHz Spectrum for Intelligent Transportation Systems (June 11)
The FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) asking for comments on using the 5.850 to 5.925 GHz. band for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC). The NPRM listed travelers' alerts, automatic toll collection, traffic congestion detection, emergency dispatch services and electronic inspection of moving trucks as some of the uses for DSRC.

This band is currently used for Government radar operations, Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Earth-to-space operations and amateur radio operations. The FCC has tentatively concluded the radar and satellite operations should be able to share the spectrum on a co-primary basis subject to coordination. It also noted that "frequency and geographic separation should enable DSRC operations to share the spectrum with secondary amateur operations."

The FCC is requesting comment on the spectrum sharing potential of DSRC and "further analysis of DSRC spectrum sharing with incoment operations, including unlicensed Part 15 devices..." More information is available in Acrobat and WordPerfect formats.

SATELLITE - NAB to Hold 10th Satellite Uplink Operators Training Seminar (June 10)
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) will hold its Tenth Satellite Uplink Operators Training Seminar October 5-8, 1998, at its headquarters in Washington DC. The seminar will cover operational practices and address the FCC rules that require a trained operator on duty at all times during satellite transmission. It is targeted at satellite uplink operators, engineers and technical managers. This year's session will include information on HDTV and digital video transmission via satellite. More information is available in the NAB Press Release or from the seminar website at www.nab.org/scitech/sat98.asp.

FCC Reassigns GE-3 Orbital Location from 67 degrees to 81 degrees West Longitude (June 5)
The FCC granted in part the petition for reconsideration of the Assignment of Orbital Locations to Space Stations in the Domestic Fixed-Satellite Service filing by GE Americom by allowing reassignment of GE-3's orbital location from 67 degrees West Longitude (W.L.) to 81 degrees W.L.. GE Americom had required assignment of GE-3 to 129 degrees W.L. Accomodating this would have required "every satellite operator licensing in the processign round to relocate at least one of its newly assigned satellites."

As a result, the FCC did not authorize GE-3 at 129 degrees. However, it recognized GE Americom's dissatisfaction with its 67 degree assignment. Noting that the 81 degree orbital location was unassigned and available immediately for a hybrid C-/Ku-band satellite, the FCC decided that "reassignment to the unassigned 81 degrees W.L. orbit location will serve the public interst." This assignment also involves coordination with Echostar Satellite Corporation's EchoStar 1 satellite at 83 degrees. For the details, see the full text of the FCC's Memorandum Opinion and Order In the Matter of the Application of GE American Communications, Inc. Request for Extension of Construction Launch Milestones for GE-3.

FCC Proposes New Regulations to Prevent Cellular Service Reception on Scanners (June 4)
While scanning receivers (scanners) are prohibited from receiving the 800 MHz. cellular frequencies and it is illegal to monitor those frequencies, it is often possible to receive cellular service, especially on lower cost scanners. The technique is simple. Tune to the scanners image frequency - twice the first IF frequency (usually 10.7 or 45 MHz) of the scanner plus or minus, depending on the receiver, the cellular frequency in the 870-894 MHz (base) or 825-849 MHz (phone) band. The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to deal with this and other scanner issues in response to a petition for rule making from Uniden America Corporation. The NPRM is proposing that "scanning receivers include adequate filtering to ensure that they do not pick up Cellular Service transmissions even when tuned to frequencies outside those allocated to the Cellular Service."It would also proposes that "scanning receivers be designed so that the tuning and control circuitry is not easily accessible." Furthermore, "the design must be such that any attempts to modify the equipment to receive Cellular Service transmissions will likely render the equipment inoperable.": Other rule changes are suggested to make the regulations for scanning receivers more effective.

Specifically, the NPRM proposes to "prohibit the importation and manufacture of scanning receiver and frequency converter kits that are capable of receiving and decoding signals from Cellular Service Frequency Bands." Current rules define scanning receivers as those that can automatically switch between four or more frequencies anywhere within the 30 MHz. through 960 MHz. band and are capable of stopping at and receiving a signal detected on a fequency. The FCC intends to close "any perceived loop-holes that might be used to thwart the objectives of our scanning receiver rules." The current rules exclude receivers solely designed for reception of broadcast signals or for operation as part of a licensed station from the definition of a scanning receiver. The FCC invites comment on "whether there is a need to modify our definition of a scanning receiver to include Cellular Service equipment that can be programmed by the user to perform as a scanning receiver."

The FCC emphasized it not permissible to modify scanning receivers manufactured or imported prior to the effective date of the current scanning receiver rules. The NPRM proposes adding language to Section 15.121 to specifically reflect this prohibition. In regards to modification of new scanning receivers, the FCC said "We agree with Uniden that additional measures are required to ensure that scanning receivers cannot be modified to tune Cellular Service frequencies. We therefore are proposing to require that scanning receivers be designed so that the tuning and control circuitry is inaccessible." The FCC suggested one approach would be to cover the control and tuning circuitry "with epoxy or some other substance so that it is not possible to access the electrical circuits or components." Comments and other suggestions as to how such modifications can be prevented is requested.

In regard to the reception of Cellular Service transmissions using the receiver's image frequency, Uniden proposed the FCC require an image frequency rejection of 38 dB. The FCC noted that "Uniden's proposed 38 dB standard appears to be based on what it believes a scanning receiver can achieve at reasonable cost." However, the FCC questioned whether this was sufficient. While it proposes a 38 dB figure, it invited comments as to whether this was adequate. The FCC also requested comments on how this rejection should be measured. It also noted that this was based on signal level at the antenna, although it might be possible to receive the signal by direct pick-up through the cabinet. As a result, the FCC is "proposing to require that scanning receivers not be able to receive a signal level of 5 mV/m or less in the cellular frequency bands for any tunable frequency."

If these extreme actions to prevent reception of analog cellular signals (which are now being replaced by digital modulation) make you wonder if the FM demodulator in your Tektronix 2712 Spectrum Analyzer will be deemed illegal, the FCC said "we do not believe it was the intent of Congress to ban legitimate test equipment from tuning cellular frequencies." Therefore, the FCC is "propoing to modify our currrent policy by proposing to exempt test equipment from the definition of a scanning receiver." Test equipment would be defined as "equipment that is not marketed or sold to the general public and is used by professional technical personnel in conjunction with testing of equipment or systems or for scientific investigations." Such gear would not be required to block the Cellular Service frequency bands. Comment is invited on this, as well as "to whether we should permit marketing to the public of test equipment that can tune the cellular frequency bands but is incapable of demodulating cellular transmissions or producing an audio output.

Download the entire ET Docket 98-76 Notice of Proposed Rule Making in ASCII text or WordPerfect formats for more information.

FCC Advisory Committee for 1999/2000 WRC Proposes Additional Views on Allocations (June 3)
The FCC released a report on the preliminary views on issues to be addressed at the 1999/2000 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-99) from the WRC-99 Advisory Committee. This committee is assisting the FCC in developing proposals for WRC-99. The FCC is requesting comments on these preliminary views. The views include discussion of allocations for NVNG MSS 405-406 MHz band, additional allocations for NVNG MSS and sharing with land mobile systems in the 450-470 MHz band, allocation of the Fixed Service in the 31.8-33.4 GHz band, allocation of MSS space to Earth links in the 1559-1567 band, protection of MetAids and MetSats in the 1670-1683 MHz band, allocation for a second civilian frequency for GPS and other RNSS services in the 1215-1260 MHz and 1559-1610 MHz bands, reorganize allocations above 71 GHz, Earth exploration-satellite (passive) service allocation in the 18.6-18.8 GHz band and provide additional channels for new digital technology for the maritime mobile service in the 156-174 MHz band.

For more information see the Public Notice DA 98-1044. It contains a good summary. Much more information is available on the FCC's WRC-99 Web Site.

DTV - ATSC Conducts First Digital HDTV Broadcasts in Southeast Asia (June 3)
The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) conducted real time over-the-air broadcasts of HDTV in conjunction with the BroadcastAsia98 International Conference in Singapore. This marked the start of field tests by the Singapore Digital TV Technical Committee. The Committe was appointed by the Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) to investigate DTV and to recommend a DTV standard to SBA. Lim Hock Chuan, Chief Executive Office of SBA, said "We are actively evaluating the ATSC digital television standard used in North America and beyond, as well as the European and Japanese approaches to digital TV, to determine the best course for Singapore to pursue, and this demonstration provides an important focal point for our deliberations." Tay Joo Thong, Chiarman of the Singapore Digital TV Technical Committee add that "the upcoming field tests of the ATSC system, together with similar data to be gathered later this year on the two other DTV apporaches, should provide us the performance data we need to make the best decision for Singapore on digital television."

The digital broadcasts originated from a new transmission tower at Bukit Batok, operated by SIM Communications Pte Ltd. More information is available in the ATSC Press Release. Zenith also provided support for this broadcast. See the Zenith Press Release.

SCIENCE - Ceremony at Lucent Technologies Honoring Father of Radio Astronomy (June 3)
Lucent Technologies plans a June 8 ceremony at its Bell Labs facility in Holmdel New Jersey to honor the firs person to hear radio waves from outer space - Karl Jansky. A Bell Labs scientist, Jansky died in 1950 at the age of 44 without receiving any formal recognition of his accomplishments from the scientific community. Bell Labs astrophysicist Tony Tyson and Nobel Prize winner and former Bell Labs astronomer Tony Tyson worked together to help pinpoint the former location of Jansky's original 100 foot long antenna. It will serve as an appropriate spot for a monument to mark the location where the science of radioastronomy began. Lucent Technologies outlined the search for the antenna's location and the accomplishments of Karl Jansky in an extremely interesting Press Release.

If you have any interest in this phase of RF history, take the time to read Detective's tale at Lucent Technologies leads to monument honoring the father of radio astronomy on the Lucent web site. If after reading this tale you want to learn more about Radio Astronomy, I recommend Radio Astronomy and Big Ear Two - Listening for Other-Worlds by John Kraus. Clicking on the underlined title should take you to the Amazon.com page for the book. Links on the pages will take you to additional Radio Astronomy titles.

FCC Antenna Registration Software for Windows 95 Now Available (June 2)
The FCC's original antenna registration software required its own TCP/IP stack and was not compatible with Windows95TM or WindowsNTTM. The FCC has now updated its free interactive antenna registration filing/review software "to ensure compatibility with Windows95." The Wireless Bureau Public Notice announcing the new software implied that Windows95 was not required to use the new software and users could continue to use the older Windows software after downloading the new software. It appears the new software does not attempt to replace the Windows TCP/IP stack, allowing it to work with either the TCP/IP software installed by the old software or the software included with later versions of Windows.

Effective June 1, electronic antenna structure registrations must be made with the new Windows95 compatible interactive software. It is available for download at http://www.fcc.gov/wtb/antenna. In addition, the FCC will no longer accept antenna information in the prescribed flat file format via email once the current registration window closes June 30, 1998. All future registrations must be made using the new interactive software.

FCC Grants Loral SpaceCom Authority to Lauch and Operate Ground Spare (June 2)
In an Order and Authorization adopted May 15, the FCC granted Loral Spacecom authority to launch and operate its ground spare. The ground spare will replace Telstar 401, which failed January 11, 1997. Loral launched Telstar 7, renamed Telstar 5, on May 24, 1997 under special temporary authority. Telstar 5 is not technically identical to Telstar 401, however, Loral said it will operate Telstar 5 using the same operational parameters as Telstar 401. The transponder output power will be 20 watts C-band, 100 watts Ku-band, consistent with the Telstar 401 license. One difference is that the Ku-band spectral power density of Telstar 5 is 6.2 dB over the limit defined in Section 25.212 of the FCC rules. The Commission said Loral could bring this into compliance by either reducing the spectral density downlink power or by coordinating the higher powers with adjacent satellites.

FCC Creates DTV Tower Strike Force to Work With Broadcasters and Local Authorities (May 29)
FCC Commissioner Susan Ness will chair the new DTV Tower Strike Force, which she said "will work to help resolve any problems that could slow down the DTV implementation process." Report MM 98-6 stated "The Commission's DTV Tower Strike Force will make Commission staff available to aid local authorities and broadcasters by providing expedited answers to questions related to the process of assessing tower modification or construction and to facilitate the deliberations of reviewing entities."

The FCC created a website at www.fcc.gov/mmb/prd/dtv containing a Fact Sheet and Frequency Asked Questions (and Answers) on DTV and tower siting. The Commission also urged broadcaster to send a copy of the Application for Construction Permit for Commercial Broadcast Station (Form 301) to their local permitting authority when they file the application with the FCC.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap980611.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap980602.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac980615.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac980611.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac980609.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac980605.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac980604.txt for more information
All listings are for a new digital TV station unless otherwise indicated

OTHER Items of Interest

Other Issues Available:



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Last modified July 4, 1998 by Doug Lung dlung@transmitter.com
Copyright 1998 H. Douglas Lung