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(week) or two to complete each issue. Articles may be posted earlier if time permits or if there is a major, breaking story.

<<< Back to August 21 - Issue 228

August 28, 2000 - Issue 229 Final Edition

INDUSTRY - Fire Shuts Down Giant TV Tower in Moscow (Aug. 28 / Updated Sept. 4)
Transmitter engineers across the world who work in facilities in high rise buildings like the World Trade Center in NYC, Sears Tower in Chicago and the CN Tower in Montreal(?) must have been thinking about their installations when broadcasts Sunday reported on a major fire at the Moscow Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

The Ostankino Tower is the main TV broadcast center for Moscow and is the highes free-standing construction in Europe and Asia. The total height of the Ostankino Tower is 540 meters. Fifteen TV stations and 14 FM radio stations transmit from the tower. Two-way radios, paging transmitters and microwave systems also use the Tower. An observation deck at 337 meters includes the "The Seventh Heaven" restaurant.
Pictures are available on the Ostankino Tower web page. For pictures of the transmitting room and a list of the transmitters used before the fire, see www.tvtower.ru/31_AirBroadcast/eng/. Technical details on the tower are available at www.tvtower.ru/2_Razdel_TotalInfo/eng/.

A CNN story - Fire rages on Moscow's giant television tower said initial reports indicated the fire was caused by short-circuit in a paging company's wiring. A later report on the Ostankino Tower site Latest News about the situation and progess with reconstruction works at Ostankino Tower said the fire was in feeders connecting transmitters with antennas situated on the top of the Tower. A BBC Report said Leonid Korotchik, head of the Moscow fire service, confirmed the fire was caused by electrical cables overheating and numerous short circuits caused it to spread. The fire chief was was quite critical of the time it took authorities to shut off power to the tower.

The Ostankino Tower web site said research on the steel ropes supporting the tower found that the Tower can stand without some of them. The steel ropes were very important only during the construction of the Tower. The interior of the restaurant "practically has not suffered." As of September 4, eight TV channels were on the air from the Tower, some with 1 kW transmitters.

For additional information on the fire, visit the BBC News web site and enter "Ostankino" as the search term. It should return over twenty links to additional news items on the Tower and the fire. Regular status reports are available on the Ostankino Tower Engineering News page.

FCC Releases Report and Order on 2 GHz Mobile Satellite Service (Aug. 25)
The FCC has released a Report and Order outlining policies and service rules for the Mobile Satelitte Service (MSS) in the 2 GHz band. The FCC said, "Upon launch, these new systems will provide mobile voice, data, Internet and other services to U.S. consumers for communications in the United States and around the world. The service, which will operate in the 2 GHz band, will create new service options for local, regional and global mobile communication in competition with other telecommunications services. Offerings will be available throughout the United States, including rural areas." The R&O includes details on frequency assignments, incentives for providing service to rural areas and the pending proceeding on allocation of frequencies for feeder links. Reallocation of the 2 GHz MSS frequencies was covered in the Second Memorandum Opinion and Order In the Matter of Amendment of Section 2.106 of the Commission's Rules to Allocate Spectrum at 2 GHz for Use of the Mobile-Satellite Service, covered in the July 3, 2000 RF Current.

The R&O divides the 2 GHz MSS uplink (1990-2025 MHz) and downlink (2165-2200 MHz) spectrum into segments of equal bandwith. The total size of the spectrum segments for each operator is determined using the formula:
35 MHz / (Number of System Proponents + 1) = Total Size of Spectrum Segments.
The R&O explains:
"The segments will consist of adjacent blocks stretching from one end of the band to the other. Each segment will represent an operator's potential selected spectrum assignment in each of the uplink and downlink bands. This arrangement is similar to the Traditional Band Arrangement proposal in the Notice in that we are dividing the spectrum into distinct segments for assignment. Unlike the Traditional Band Arrangement, however, we do not mandate a particular system orbit (that is, GSO or NGSO) for a given segment. Each 2 GHz MSS operator voluntarily will identify its selected spectrum at the time that the first satellite in its system reaches its intended orbit. Operators must notify the Commission in writing regarding their Selected Assignment. The Commission staff will then issue a Public Notice to provide notification of the operator's selected segment. We adopt this arrangement to provide the certainty of a specific spectrum assignment that many commenters observed is critical to obtaining financing and thus ultimately to market success."
The FCC said a total of 5 MHz of spectrum was sufficient for commencement of service. If all nine of the proponents are authorized, each system would choose "Selected Assignments" of 3.5 MHz bandwidth in both the uplink and downlink. The rules allow operators to use spectrum in other segments on a secondary basis. If the operator who selected that spectrum wishes to use it, the other operators must vacate it Each operator may also coordinate with any other 2 GHz MSS operator to utilize spectrum in the operator's selected spectrum or in spectrum outside the spectrum selected by either operator. The R&O states, "Operators using spectrum on a secondary basis must comply with all applicable incumbent relocation requirements before commencing service. Later entrants selecting spectrum as their Selected Assignment that has been cleared by an earlier entrant for secondary use will be required to reimburse the earlier entrant for relocation costs."

Expansion spectrum will be available to authorized 2 GHz MSS systems that have demonstrated "its commercial operations were were exceeding the capacity of its original spectrum assignment." However, to encourage service in rural areas, the R&O states, "The expansion spectrum as adopted here will be available to authorized 2 GHz MSS systems that first demonstrate they will offer MSS capacity directed at providing service to consumers in unserved areas." The expansion segment will be in the 1990-2008 MHz Phase I portion of the uplink band as long was sufficient spectrum remains available to accommodate at least one additional entrant. If that isn't the case, the uplink spectrum will be in the 2008-2025 MHz Phase II portion of the band. Refer to the R&O for details on how rural service is defined.

The FCC has a proceeding pending that would allocate the 5091-5250 MHz, 6700-7075 MHz and 15.43-15.63 GHz frequency bands to non-geostationary (NGSO) MSS feeder links. The this R&O, the FCC said, "In light of the unresolved issues with the use of these bands, we expect all operational MSS systems proposing feeder links in the 5, 7 and 15 GHz bands to coordinate use of feeder link spectrum, subject to the outcome of any allocation and licensing proceedings related to these frequencies."

More information is available in the FCC News Release FCC Launches Next Generation Mobile Satellite Service in the 2 GHz Band and the full text of the Report and Order In the Matter of The Establishment of Policies and Service Rules for the Mobile Satellite Service in the 2 GHz Band (IB Docket 99-81). This document is available as an ASCII text file fcc00302.txt or a Word file fcc00302.doc.

FCC Reminds Transmitting Facilities Owners of Sept. 1 RF Exposure Deadline (Aug. 24)
The FCC released a Public Notice (DA 00-1950) reminding FCC licensees that "On September 1, 2000, all existing transmitting facilities, operations and devices regulated by the Commission must be in compliance with the Commission's radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines, pursuant to Section 1.1307(b)(1) through (b)(3) of the Commission's rules, or, if not in compliance, file an Environmental Assessment (EA) as specified in Section 1.1311."

The FCC warned that if any facility, operation or device is found not to be in compliance with the FCC's RF exposure guidelines after September 1, 2000 and if the required EA has not been filed, "the Commission will consider this to be a violation of its rules, resulting in possible fines, forteiture or other actions..." The Public Notice warned random spot checks for compliance will be conducted.

More information is available on the RF Safety Web page.

WIRELESS - Merger complete - iBiquity Ready to Launch Digital Radio (Aug. 23)
Lucent Digital Radio and USA Digital Radio announced they have completed their merger after obtaining clearance from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The result of the merger is iBiquity Digital Corporation. Investors in iBiquity include Lucent Technologies and fifteen of the nation's top 20 radio broadcasters.

Lowry Mays, Chairman and CEO, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., stated, "The digital broadcast technologies developed by iBiquity Digital provide radio broadcasters the opportunity to benefit from the digital revolution. We look forward to the adoption of a digital radio standard that allows radio broadcasters to deliver digital quality audio and a host of wireless data services to our customers."

More information is available the press release iBiquity Digital takes flight - Lucent Digital Radio and USA Digital complete merger... accelerating rollout of digital AM and FM radio.

SATELLITE - GE Americom Report on July and August 2000 Solar Flares (Aug. 22)
GE AMericom has released a Statement Concerning July and August 2000 Solar Flares. The statement noted that a S4 solar radiation event occurred on July 14, 2000 and was followed by an associated G5 intensity Geomagnetic storm on July 16 and 17, 2000. GE Americom said its Space Systems and Operations team moonitored these events and will continue to monitor active solar regions.

The Statement said, "The recent flare and geomagnetic storm had no impact on GE Americom's satellite service, and spacecraft telemetry data yielded no significant spacecraft health effects. Any long-term effects of the flare (e.g. solar array power capabilities, total radiation doses) were well within the margins designed into our spacecraft. Although no stationkeeping maneuvers were planned, they would have been postponed during the occurrence of such an event. There has been no impact to transponder service or long-term spacecraft health as a result of the space environment during any of the solar max events this year."

For additional information on the July flare refer to the report in the July 17, 2000 RF Current. It also contains links to sites with real-time information on solar activity.

OTHER Items of Interest

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Last modified September 10, 2000 by Doug Lung dlung@xmtr.com
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