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.

Issues are dated each Monday, although recently I've needed an extra day or two to complete each issue. Articles may be posted earlier if time permits or if there is a major, breaking story.

I'm looking for news from shows and meetings or news from your company that might be of interest to other RF and broadcast engineers. Please e-mail me at dlung@transmitter.com or phone me at Telemundo, (305) 884-9664.

NOTICE! Due to the Christmas and New Year's Holidays, this week's RF Current has been extended to cover through December 24. The next issue will be published on January 4 and will include news released between December 24 and January 4. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas, a joyous holiday and a prosperous New Year!

December 24, 1998 - Issue 146 Extended Edition

FCC Adopts Spectrum Plan for 36-51 GHz "V" Band (Dec. 23)
Today the FCC released its Report and Order in IB Docket 97-95, Allocation and Designation of Spectrum for Fixed-Satellite Services in the 37.5-38.5 GHz, 40.5--41.5 GHz and 48.2-50.2 GHz Frequency Bands and RM-8811, Allocation of Spectrum to Upgrade Fixed and Mobile Allocations in the 40.5-42.5 GHz Frequency Band; Allocation of Spectrum in the 46.9-47.0 GHz Frequency Band for Wireless Services; and Allocation of Spectrum in the 37.0-38.0 GHz and 40.0-40.5 GHz for Government Operations.

In the new band plan, the FCC designated 4 GHz of spectrum for Fixed-Satellite-Services (FSS) on a primary basis, 5.6 GHz of spectrum for wireless services use on a primary basis and retained existing designiations for unlicensed commercial vehicular radio and amateur services. The U.S. Table of Allocations was revised to address Government operations in the 36.0-51.4 GHz band. Some spectrum was left undesignated. See the News Release (nrin8044) for a detailed table of the changes. The complete Report and Order is also available in a text file - fcc98336.txt or WordPerfect - fcc98336.wp file. A short summary of the new band plan is summarized in the table below.

Service Frequency - GHz.
Fixed Service Satellite
37.6 - 38.6
40.0 - 41.0
48.2 - 50.2
Wireless Services 37.0 - 37.6
41.0 - 42.5
46.9 - 47.0
50.4 - 51.4
Unlicensed commercial
vehicular radar
46.7 - 46.9
Amateur Services 47.0 - 47.2
Space research
(space to earth)
37.0 - 38.0
Space research
(earth to space)
40.0 - 40.5
Earth Exploration Satellite
(space to earth)
40.0 - 40.5
Government use 42.5 - 43.5
(exclusive - except
for radio astronomy)
Non-government use 47.2 - 48.2
Undesignated 36.0 - 37.0
42.5 - 46.7
50.2 - 50.4

FCC Modifies DTV Rules, Changes Some Allotments in Second Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration (Dec. 21)
Monday the FCC released the Second Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration of the Fifth and Sixth Report and Orders in the matter of Advanced Television Systems and Their Impact upon the Existing Television Broadcast Service (Second MO&O). The complete text (120 pages), is available on line in text - fcc98315.txt, WordPerfect - fcc98315.wp and Adobe Acrobat - fcc98315.pdf formats.

The FCC rejected several requests for changes to its DTV rules and initial DTV allotments. The FCC denied a request by the National Religious Broadcasters' Association (NRB) to reconsider the inclusion of channel 6 in the core DTV spectrum. The Second MO&O stated "...we do not find that the additional opportunities for increasing FM noncommercial coverage would outweigh the costs of eliminating channel 6 from TV service."

Cosmos sought reconsideration of the use of beam tilting by a DTV station to improve coverage inside its allotted contour, subject to several conditions, including an assumption of one dB additional antenna gain above that specified by the antenna manufacturer. Cosmos argued that the combined effect of tower deflection, high gain antennas and the use of beam tilting could create new interference. Cosmos asked for use of an assumption of 11 dB additional antenna gain for stations using beam tilting techniques. The FCC disagreed with Cosmos, stating Cosmos provided no new information and noting that changes in DTV field strength due to antenna and tower deflection would not be as high as Cosmos suggested. The Second MO&O added "furthermore, instances of significant antenna deflection, particularly to the maximum levels, are infrequent and transient in nature. We therefore find that the increase in antenna margin sought by Cosmos is not warranted and are again denying this request."

The FCC granted the request by Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox) to modify the 200 kW limit on initial maximization requests. UHF broadcasters are now permitted to submit requests for DTV power increases up to the 1000 kW maximum, provided several conditions are met. These include submitting "an engineering showing that demonstrates compliancewith the de minimis interference with all affected stations assumed to be operating at the DTV power level specified for their allotment or at 200 kW, whichever is greater." A thirty day public notice period is required and any objections to a power increase above 200 kW must be resolved by the applicant. Refer to the Second MO&O for a more complete description of the new maximization rules.

While many requests to change the table of allotments were rejected, some were approved. These usually involved changes that did not affect other stations, or where they did, the stations affected agreed to the change. In one case, the DTV assignment for KZIA, Las Cruces New Mexico (now KMAZ) was changed to channel 47. This change was negotiated in the Memorandum of Understanding with the Mexican telecommunications agency.

The FCC declined to remove the requirement that a station must broadcast a DTV signal during the same hours they are broadcasting an NTSC signal. Chronicle Publishing Company requested relief from this rule between the hours of midnight and 6 AM, to conduct maintenance and resolve technical or other unanticipated problems arising from the use of the new digital technology. Reacting to the economic issues facing stations that begin DTV broadcasting early, the FCC said that stations starting DTV broadcasting before their required FCC start date will not have to meet this minimum broadcast schedule until that date.

TECHNOLOGY - Small Fractal Antenna Distance Record Set (Dec. 21)
Dr. Nation Cohen, CTO of Fractal Antenna Systems, Inc., radio astronomer and radio amateur, used a small fractal antenna to make contacts with ham radio stations in Europe with 1 watt of power and in the Pacific with 2 watts. The fractal beam antenna consisted of two folded dipoles bent into fractal shapes. The antenna, designed for the 28 MHz 10-meter ham band, is only 1.5 meters on a side. A Fractal Antenna Systems Press Release did not clearly define which distance record Cohen set, but stated that the distance/power ratio was 5000 miles per watt. Cohen said "The fractal Yagi antenna proves extremely efficient and high in performance, irrespective of its diminutive size. No discrete electronic parts or matching units were used or necessary. This is a 'plug and play' antenna."

On theFractal Antenna Systems web site, the company has posted details on its patent pending design for experimentation by ham radio operators. Commercial antenna work focuses on etched circuit board design for use at cell phone frequencies and higher. The basic 10 meter ham radio antenna also works at odd harmonic frequencies, with gain, making the design a candidate for VHF and UHF TV directional antennas.

FCC Proposes Reallocation of 3650-3700 MHz Band (Dec. 21)
The FCC proposes to allocate the 3650 to 3700 MHz frequency band for primary use for fixed services. This spectrum is currently used for government services. NTIA is transfering the the spectrum to the FCC on a mixed-use basis, effective January 1999. The FCC News Release nret8019.html said the Commission envisions the spectrum being used to provide fixed point-to-point and point-to-multipoint services, "directly linking residences, businesses, and other fixed locations to an array of networks. Through these links, traditional voice telephony and a wide variety of new broadband, high-speed, data and video services, such as Internet access and video conferencing, could be delivered to the home and to small businesses."

The News Release noted the spectrum could also be helpful in promoting competition in the local telecommunication market. As a result of this proposal, the FCC said it will no longer accept applications for use of this band by new or major modified earth station facilities in the fixed-satellite services effective on the date the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is released. Existing radiolocation service allocations in the band would be deleted, under the proposed rulemaking. Comments are requested on whether the band should be offered for license as a single 50 MHz block or as two or more smaller blocks and whether licenses should be offered on a nationwide or large regional service area basis.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap981214.txt for more information
KNBC-DT Ch. 36, Los Angeles CA and WCVB-DT Ch. 20, Boston MA filed for licenses to cover construction permits previously issued. The following stations applied for construction permits:

Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
KSCI 61 KSLS, Inc. Long Beach CA 148.8 948 Andrew ALP12M7-HSWR-61
KCAL 43 Fidelity Television Los Angeles CA 300 947 Harris TAD-16UDA-8/64
WJCL 23 Lewis B'casting Savannah GA 200 413 Dielectric TFU-24GTH 04
WFTC 21 Clear Channel TV Minneapolis MN 1000 466 Andrew ATW6-ETC1-22H

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac981217.txt for more information
Applications Granted:
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
WUNI 29 Jasas B'casting 27 Needham MA 46 457

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac981217.txt for more information
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
WNBC 28 National B'Casting Co. New York NY 178 448 Dielectric TUP-SP4-8-1
KGMC 44 Gary M Cocola Clovis CA 46 642

OTHER Items of Interest

December 14, 1998 - Issue 145 Final Edition

SATELLITE - DIRECTV® to Merge with USSB (Dec. 14)
Hughes Electronics Corporation, owner of DIRECTV®, said it has signed a definitive merger agreement with United States Satellite Broadcasting Company, Inc. (USSB). Hughes plans to combine its DIRECTV® business with USSB's business and satellites at 101 degrees West Longitude. Hughes will also acquire USSB's three frequencies at 110 degrees West Longitude, which, pending FCC approval, will be used by DIRECTV for Spanish-language services in 1999. DIRECTV intends to relocate DBS 1 from 101 degrees to 110 degrees West Longitude after DIRECTV 1-R is in service. A single 18-inch dish will be able to receive satellites at both 101 and 110 degrees, West Longitude. More information is available in the DIRECTV Press Release.

SATELLITE - Telstar 6 Set to Launch Earlier than Expected (Dec. 10)
Loral Space and Communications announced it had completed the replacement of TWT amplifiers in the Loral Skynet Telstar 6 communications satellite. AEG of Germany, the manufacturer of the tubes, said they might have been susceptible to thermally induced fatigue. (See the story in the Oct. 5, 1998 RF Current.)

Terry Hart, president of Loral Skynet, said "Space Systems/Loral's expeditious installation and testing of new Ku-band traveling wave tubes on Telstar 6 puts the satellite in service by mid-March, earlier than expected." Telstar 6 has 24 C-band and 28 Ku-band transponders. It will be located at 93 degrees West longitude and used by Loral Skynet's broadcasting, education and newsgathering customers. The satellite will be launched on a Protron rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, perhaps as early as January 30, 1999. Loral also announced it expected to have its Telstar 7 satellite in service at 129 degrees WL in the second quarter of 1999.

Refer to the Loral Skynet Press Release for additional information.

SATELLITE - PanAmSat PAS-6B Set for Late December Launch (Dec. 10)
PanAmSat's PAS-6B satellite has been delivered to French Guiana. Final preparation are being made to launch the satellite in late December on an Ariane 42L rocket. The satellite has 32 high-power Ku-band transponders for coverage of South America. It will be located at 43 degrees West Longitude, where the PAS-6 and PAS-3 satellites are currently located. The co-location should allow for a seamless migration of existing South America Direct to Home services to the new satellite. More details are available in the PanAmSat Press Release

SATELLITE - INTELSAT Board Decides to Deregister Some Orbital Slots (Dec. 9)
Recognizing its leadership role as a major user of the geosynchronous orbital arc, the INTELSET Board of Governors decided to deregister several orbital slot registrations filed with the International Telecommunications Union. An INTELSAT Press Release said slots at 63 deg., 64.9 deg., 69 deg., 91.5 deg., 180 deg., 186 deg., 338 deg. and 338.5 degrees East would be deregistered.

INTELSAT noted that its orbital efficiency, defined as the percentage of occupied orbital locations in relation to filed orbital locations, was better than all other major users of international orbital resources. INTELSAT's orbital efficiency was 76 percent, compared with the 49% for the USA, 44% for France, 43% for Russia and 33% for Eutelsat. INTELSAT's Director General and CEO, Mr. Conny Kullman, urged other operators to follow this example - "I believe very strongly that INTELSAT must continue to set an example as a responsible citizen of the geosynchronous arc. I hope this move prompts other satellite operators to assess their current and future plans to determine if they, too, can make room for new entrants in the market by deregistering slots they no longer plan to use. Orbital slots are a scarce resource and we all have a responsibility to use them as efficiently as possible."

INTELSAT's Board also approved the purchase of the fifth satellite in the INTELSAT IX series - INTELSAT 905, to be built by SS/Loral. It will be delivered in early 2002 and will service either the Atlantic or Indian Ocean regions, depending on the successful launch and deployment of the four INTELSAT IX satellites already on order.

DTV - CEMA Refutes Forrester Research Survey - Says Consumers Want HDTV (Dec. 8)
Forrester Research released a survey saying DTV will catch on, but HDTV won't. Forrester Research posted an abstract of the results of its HDTV Dreams, SDTV Realities survey on its web site. A chart included in the abstract showed a combined DTV penetration of 30 percent in 2006, with an HDTV penetration of only 4 percent.

The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) said
"The Forrester research results are wrong. Forrester makes predictions in its report about what consumers want without talking to consumers. Our HDTV research is based on consumer opinion surveys and consumer focus groups that included HDTV demonstrations. The results of our research are clear: consumers want high definition TV (HDTV) and, in demonstration after demonstration, they express a strong preference for HDTV over standard definition TV (SDTV).

"HDTV is like ice cream. You can read about ice cream. But until you taste it, you don't know how good it is. Our research tells us that when consumers see HDTV, they are excited about the technology and willing to pay for it.

"The entire history of our industry demonstrates that Americans want the best picture and sound quality technology has to offer. And 20 million households have already invested $2000 or more on their television. Even at introductory prices, HDTV is a success with consumers. As prices come down - and they will - HDTV sales will go up, making this technology the next generation of television."
See the CEMA News Release for more information.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap981208.txt for more information
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
KPTV 30 Oregon Television Portland OR 741 528 Dielectric TFU-28GN-R06
WREG 28 WREG-TV Memphis TN 906 313 Dielectric TFU-26GTH-R04
KUWB 17 Paxson Salt Lake Ogden UT 188 825 Dielectric TFU-10DSC-RS300
KPBS 30 San Diego U. San Diego CA 200 606 Dielectric TFU24GTH S190
KDIN 50 Iowa Public B'cstg Des Moines IA 966 593 Dielectric TFU-30GBH-R08

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac981208.txt for more information
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
KTVD 19 Twenver Broadcast Denver CO 655 450 Dielectric TFU-24GTH-R04
KCNC 35 Group W/CBS TV Denver CO 490 452 Dielectric TFU-24GTH-R04
KDVR 32 Fox Television Denver CO 223.3 296 Andrew ATW22H3-ESC3-32H
KMGH 17 McGraw-Hill B'cast Denver CO 25 450 Dielectric TFU-24GTH-R04
KUSA 16 Gannett Colorado Denver CO 290 434 Dielectric TFU-24GBH-R08

OTHER Items of Interest

December 7, 1998 - Issue 144 Final Edition

FCC Releases Full Text of Action to Streamline Radio and TV Applications (Dec. 4)
The FCC has released the full text of its action in Mass Media Dockets 98-43, 91-140 and 94-145 to adopt new procedures to streamline radio and TV applications, require electronic filing, institute random audit enforcement and improve ownership data collection. See the October 26, 1998 RF Current for a summary of this action. The full text of the action is availalbe from the FCC as a PkZip compressed WordPerfect File fcc98281.zip (629k) or in Adobe Acrobat PDF format - fcc98281.pdf (1M).

DTV - CEMA Launches Antenna Selector Map Program (Dec. 1)
The Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association announced a new program to help consumers select the proper TV antenna for their location. Companies particpating in the mapping program include Channel Master, Gemini Industries, Helios Antenna Systems/HDTV Group, Jasco Products Company, Lance Industries, Leviton Mfg. Co., RDI Electronics, Recoton Corporation, Sony Electronics, Tandy Corporation, Terk Technologies Corporation, Thomson Consumer Electronics, Winegard Company and Zenith Electronics Corporation.

Maps have been developed for all 211 designated TV market areas. The maps show reception requirements for all full power TV stations in a city and include the effects of terrain and building obstructions as well as likely interference. Color codes will identify which types of antenna models will be most useful in a particular reception area.

CEMA President Gary Shapiro said "This program provides essential help to consumers and retailers at a critical juncture. Millions of consumers use antennas to receive free over-the-air television signals, and the need for antennas is greatly increasing. As consumers continue to embrace digital satellite TV systems, such as the Digital Broadcast System (DBS), they are turning to antennas to receive local off-air signals. Additionally, antennas may be the only way for consumers to receive the sensational picture quality and digital surround sound of a high definition television (HDTV) signal until their local cable system passes through HDTV signals. And as new technologies for broadcasting and receiving information and entertainment content emerge, antennas will provide a cost-effective, space-saving solution for receiving these signals."

More information is available in the CEMA Press Release. CEMA also issued a Press Release - New FCC Rules Ensure That Consumers Have Access To New Broadcast Technologies - praising the recent FCC action allowing consumers to install antennas and dishes in rental properties.

DTV - Harris Corporation Introduces ATSC Receiver (Dec. 1)
Harris Corporation today introduced the ARX-H100 ATSC receiver. According to the Harris Press Release, "the receiver enables television stations to monitor their DTV signals at any point in the air-chain, from encoding to the off-air signal." The ARX-H100 includes a VHF/UHF 8-VSB tuner and is capable of decoding all 18 ATSC formats. The Press Release did not outline the receiver's measurement capabilities, but said it included "a high-resolution graphics display on the front panel, as well as a built-in signal analyzer which enables users to monitor decoded audio and video signals from a personal computer." It can also decode PSIP and closed captioning data. The receiver is targeted for transmitter site monitoring, master control off-air monitoring, field measurements and shop measurements.

SATELLITE - INTELSAT Officially Transfers Six Satellites to New Skies Satellites N.V. (Nov. 30)
INTELSAT announced it transfered six satellites to New Skies Satellites N.V at a contract signing ceremony held today at INTELSAT's Washington D.C. headquarters. The satellite transfered are INTELSAT 513 (183 deg. E), INTELSAT 703 (57 deg. E), INTELSAT 803 (338.5 deg. E), INTELSAT 806 (319.5 deg. E), INTELSAT K (338.5 deg. E) and K-TV (95 deg. E), which is under construction.

U.S. users of these satellites should be aware that current FCC authorizations to use INTELSAT satellites no longer apply to these satellites. See the June 12, 1998 FCC International Bureau Public Notice for more details.

TECHNOLOGY - Smart Materials Provide for Self-Adjusting Satellite Antennas (Nov. 27)
Researchers at Ohio State University have used computer simulations to prove that thin piezoceramic patches spaced around the back of an antenna reflector will reinforce the plastic as well as control its shape. One of the researchers, Gregory Washington, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, said that a satellite using lightweight plastic antennas with the piezoceramic material "wouldn’t have to constantly reorient itself... Plus, instead of having three or four antennas on a satellite, we could have one or two multifunctional antennas."

Washington and Hwan-Sik Yoon, a graduate student, developed computer simulations to model the movement of the piezoceramic actuators. The complex equations for the simulations are in a computer code called POMESH - Physical Optics Mesh. In addition to the obvious benefits, the adaptive antennas could self-correct for warping due to sunlight heat. Adjustable antennas could "even navigate signals through turbulent atmospheric conditions like storms," according to the Ohio State News Article. The research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army Research Office.

OTHER Items of Interest

Other Issues Available:



1995 and 1996

Return to The RF Page @ www.transmitter.com

Last modified December 26, 1998 by Doug Lung dlung@transmitter.com
Copyright © 1998 H. Douglas Lung