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 January 1999. 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.

January 25, 1999 - Issue 150 Final Edition

CHIPS - Postage Stamp Micro-tuner Targets Tough Over-the-air DTV and NTSC Tasks (Jan. 25)
Last week two representatives from Microtune, Inc. met me at the San Jose Airport with the promise of showing me a breakthrough in over-the-air tuner tecbnology. James Fontaine pulled two conventional tuners out of his pocket - both larger than a thin bar of soap. You've seen them before in TV sets, VCRs and set-top boxes. Then he handed me a p.c. board no larger than a commemorative postage stamp, complete with F connector, and claimed it could do a better job that the big tuners.

While I had no way to verify that claim, the specifications looked enticing. The input noise figure ranged from 8 to 10 dB and phase noise at 10 kHz was better than -85 dBc/Hz, making it suitable for digital TV applications. It has an input range from 55 to 860 MHz and outputs a standard 45.75 MHz IF (NTSC) or 44 MHz (8VSB/QAM). The tuner chip includes a frequency synthesizer, a low noise amplifier, upconversion to a 1090 MHz intermediate frequency (IF) and downconversion to 45 or 44 MHz. By upconverting the incoming frequency to 1 GHz, Microtune was able to eliminate the need for extensive RF input filtering. One version of the chip includes an analog demodulator, although external demodulators are required for the digital signals.

This chip represents a key step in developing the components needed to make inexpensive over-the-air DTV reception practical. Microtune, the developer of the chip, says it is in talks with several manufacturers interested in using the chip in their products. What interested me was that Microtune specifically targeted the over-the-air market, with its much tougher demands, rather than the more sedate cable TV set-top market where all signals are roughly the same amplitude. You can read more about the chip (along with a photo of the device) in my March TV Technology RF Column or on the Microtune web site, which may be operational when you read this.

FCC Grants MSTV Extension of Time to File Comments in Proceeding on Reassignment of 2 GHz Spectrum (Jan 25)
In ET Docket 95-18, the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology assigned some of the 2 GHz spectrum current used for broadcast electronic news gathering (ENG) to the Mobile Satellite Service. The Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) filed a Motion for Extension of Time to file reply comments to the Memorandum Opinion and Order, Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order in this Docket. MSTV said it was gathering information on Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) licensees and equipment but needed more time to complete the work. Although MSTV had requested a one month extension of the deadlines, the FCC said time pressures made a fifteen day extension more appropriate. As a result, the date for filing comments in this proceeding was extended until February 3, 1999, with reply comments due by March 5, 1999.

WIRELESS - HWN Introduces Wireless Communication Distribution System for Homeowners and Small Business (Jan. 22)
Lucent Technolgies' distributed a Home Wireless Networks Press Release describing the company's new wireless communications system for homes and small business. The system consists of a Controller, a Handset which serves as a wireless telephone and interface to the Controller and several varieties of access units with jacks for both voice and data. The Controller is a digital voice switch as well as a router for TCP/IP data within the home and to and from the Internet. It can handle up to 5 telephone lines. More information is available in the Press Release link above. Information on the system itself is available from the Home Wireless Networks web site.

DTV - Study Says "HDTV is a side show" but states "the computer industry will have to adopt the 16:9 format..."
The McLaughlin Consulting Group published quotes and a description of its study: The Impact of DTV on Television and Computer Displays. The study stated "Although the FCC's DTV broadcasting ruling can be regarded as a 'trigger event' that forced the digital era on the entertainment industry, the real long term force behind DTV is the Internet." Furthermore, "HDTV is a side show. And forget the acronyms- HDTV, EDTV, SDTV. What the consumer will receive is more choices of higher quality video in a 16:9 format and an improved audio experience. That's about it. Eventually, the computer industry will have to adopt the 16:9 format for all of its monitor products."

McLaughlin's report said that "The computer industry should position itself to develop, manufacture, install and - where appropriate- manage the digital systems of the entertainment industry, including set top boxes and televisions." It noted that, "thus far, however, the industry lacks the comprehension, leadership and organization to accomplish this goal."

Refer to the links above for more information on the study and how to purchase it.

DTV - MSTV Releases Proposed List of TSID Assignments for U.S. TV Broadcasters
U.S. DTV broadcasters are required to transmit a Transport Stream Identifier (TSID) under the ATSC PSIP standard. However, the FCC has not established a set of TSIDs for broadcasters and has indicated it may propose an industry coordinating committee be responsible for implementing and maintaining TSID assignments. MSTV found that in markets where more than one DTV station is on the air, some DTV receivers have had problems tuning to stations that did not transmit a unique TSID. Many ATSC encoders are being shipped with the ATSC TSID set to either 0 or 1. MSTV has published a proposed list of assignments for all broadcasters. The TSIDs begin with the number 2 (Hex 0x0002). Even numbers are assigned to DTV stations, with next (odd) number assigned to the NTSC station. EIA has published a standard for transmitting the TSID in the vertical blanking interval of NTSC signals.

MSTV urged DTV broadcasters to begin transmitting these TSIDs immediately. A complete list of the proposed assignments, along with useful background information on the TSID, can be found on the MSTV web site as Word 6.0/95 document TSIDASGN.doc.

SCIENCE - CalTech Physicists Teleport Light Beam
Teleportation sounds like a technology from TV Sci-Fi. Physicists at the California Institute of Technology have moved teleportation from science fiction to science fact, although no humans were beamed from one place to another. In fact, no solid object was teleported. The physicists transported "a quantum state of light from one side of an optical beam to the other without it traveling through any physical medium in between." Instead of physically transporting the beam itself, they "transmitted its properties to another location where the information was used to re-create an exact quantum copy of the original beam."

While this may sound like something your fax machine can do, this process is different: "It works on three-dimensional objects as well as documents; it produces an exact copy of the original at the other end, not just a facsimile; nd the original object is destroyed in the scanning process."

The brief report concluded "Futuristic quantum computers may someday move information about in this way without the need for wires and silicon chips." This article was from the January 1999 Naval Research Laboratory News. That issue also includes a short article on research into gallium nitride transistors, which promise up to 100 times as much power as current semiconductors.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap990122.txt for more information
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location Application for:
WGNX 19 WGNX Atlanta GA License to cover DTV CP BPCDT-980406KF

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac990122.txt for more information
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
WXIN 45 Tribune Television Indianapolis IN 200 285 Dielectric TFU-24GTH 04
WCNC 22 WCNC-TV Charlotte NC 355 577 Dielectric TFU-22DSC-R C170

OTHER Items of Interest

January 18, 1999 - Issue 149 Final Edition

TECHNOLOGY - Lucent Digital Radio Advance Solves Coverage Problems Under Impaired Channel Conditions (Jan. 14)
Lucent Digital Radio announced a significant technical advance in its In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) system. Called "Multi-Streaming", the tehcnology reportedly allows the digital signal to emulate the graceful degradation characteristics of analog signals, allowing high-quality digital audio reception even at the edge of analog coverage. Lucent said no other proposed digital broadcast system offers this unique capability.

A Lucent Press Release said the Multi-Streaming solution works in both AM and FM IBOC systems. Lucent Digital Radio will offer digital radio broadcasters royalty-free licenses for its IBOC DAB system. Field testing is scheduled for later this year.

TECHNOLOGY - Integral Technologies Shows 'Hidden' Antenna at Consumer Electronics Show (Jan. 14)
Remember the Contrawound Toroidal Helical Antenna? Integral Technologies is back with a new antenna for wireless telephones. Emergent Technologies, a subsidiary of Integral Technologies, demonstrated the 'hidden' antenna at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas last week. Bill Robinson, Integral's Chairman, said, "EMERGENT'S new antenna is a breakthrough from existing antenna forms. The fact that the antenna is actually in the form of a small wafer (approx. 1" square X the thickness of a business card) has created much excitement in the Government, Military and Civilian wireless communications sectors."

More information is available in the Integral Technolgies Press Release.

FCC Adopts "No-Tolerance" Policy for Unregistered Antenna Structures (Jan. 13)
In a Public Notice (pnwl9006) released today, the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau warned owners and licensees that "all existing, unregistered antennas structures that require registration under Part 17 of the Commission's Rules (47 C.F.R. Sec. 17) must be registered immediately, or their owners may face possible monetary forfeitures or other enforcement action".

A recent Compliance and Information Bureau audit found 28 percent of the antenna structures surveyed were still not registered. Incidences involving near collisions between aircraft and unregistered and sometimes unmarked towers increased awareness of the problem. In most cases, any tower 200 feet or taller must be registered and, if the tower is near an airport, shorter towers may also require registration. More information is available in the Public Notice referenced above and on the FCC's antenna internet homepage.

SATELLITE - FCC Grants Columbia Communications C and Ku Band Satellite Orbital Slots (Jan. 12)
The FCC, in an Order and Authorization (da990134) adopted January 11, granted Columbia Communications authority to launch and operate a C-band satellite at 47 degrees West Longitude and a hybrid C and Ku-band satellite at 172 degrees East Longitude. Columbia had requested authorization to use the 3.4-3.6 GHz band with the satellites. The FCC declined this request in the U.S., but left open the use of this spectrum in other countries, contingent on Columbia's obtaining permission from authorities in those countries. It also required Columbia to "inform its customers and operators using the frequency band 3.4 to 3.6 GHz of the potential for interference from U.S. Government operations worldwide."

See the Order and Authorization (da990134) for more information on this grant.

DTV - RCA Shows New Off-Air Antennas for DTV at CES (Jan. 12)
At CES this year, Thomson Consumer Electronics introduced two new indoor antennas to replace the traditional "rabbit ear" technology. Thomson claimed the new antennas offer improved appearance and better performance. The RCA antenna achieve this by separating the antenna from a control module. The larger antenna portion can be mounted out of sight on a wall. An RCA Press Release said the RCA "ANT500 features impedance matching, which enables consumers to select channels using the dedicated remote control to receive the best reception. Through narrow band amplificaiton, interference from channels not being viewed is eliminated."

Thomson Consumer Electronics said the ANT500 receives all TV signals, both VHF and UHF, and consists of the antenna, control module, a 6 foot coaxial cable and a remote control. Suggested retail price is $129.95. A passive antenna, the ANT350, featuring the same omni-directional design, will be available in the spring for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $59.95.

Thomson also introduced two new outdoor antennas. The ANT4500X is an amplified, tunable model with features similar to the AN500. It carries an SRP of $149.95. The passive version is the AN4100X, with an SRP of $79.95. Thomson said the antennas are designed to be easily mounted on the roof or under the eaves.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION APPLICATIONS - See ap990112.txt for more information
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Antenna
KNTV 12 KNTV License San Jose CA 8.90 834 Andrew ATW2VOHTO-12
KBWB 19 KOFY-TV License San Francisco CA 200 428 Dielectric TUP-C3-8-1D
KSTS 49 Telemundo of N. CA San Jose CA 200 688 Andrew ATW26H5-ETC1L-48H
KUSI 18 Ch. 51 of San Diego San Diego CA 145 580 Dielectric TFU-10GTH-R S180
KTVD 19 Twenver Broadcast Denver CO 1000 (mod. to change ERP)
WJYS 36 Jovon B'casting Hammond IN 50 455 Microcommunications 955312
WFXT 31 Fox Television Boston MA no ch. 330/td> Shively Labs 2200 Super-Turnstile
WKRN 27 WKRN, L.P. Nashville TN 946 411 Harris TAD-30UDA-4/60-MT
WISN 34 Hearst-Argyle Milwaukee WI 832.8 340 Dielectric TFU-26GT-R S180
KAET 29 Az. Brd. of Regents Phoenix AZ 707 527 Dielectric TFU-30GBH06
KVIE 53 KVIE Sacramento CA 1000 566 Dielectric TFU-30DSC-R C170
WTTW 47 Window To The World Chicago IL 200 468 Andrew ATW13H4-HSC1-475

Applications for licenses to cover CP

OTHER Items of Interest

January 11, 1999 - Issue 148 Final Edition

FCC Commissioner Ness Speaks at CES on the Challenges of Delivering on the Promise of Digital Television (Jan. 11)
FCC Commissioner Susan Ness cautioned the electronics industry and broadcasters to "never forget that consumers must do something to get DTV -- they must buy a new DTV receiver or decoder box, or subscribe to a multichannel service that will provide DTV signals." She asked, "Who better than this audience understands the importance of sparking demand to DTV?"

Ness listed three conditions that she will be monitoring during the first full year of DTV:

She stated that "Cable system compatibility with digital broadcasting is a critical component of a smooth transition to digital. Over two-thirds of Americans rely on cable to receive local stations. Consumers should not have to choose between their digital television sets and cable." She also observed that early adopters of DTV are likely to be "among a cable operator's most valuable customers."

Merely providing local digital signals to cable subscribers is not enough, she warned, sayng "By cable compatibility, I mean that consumers should be able to receive broadcast signals as they are transmitted. And all of the features of a digital set should work, including new digital services such as program guides."

Ness encouraged manufacturers to provide products that allow consumers to take an incremental approach to DTV. Examples include digital to analog set-top decoders and DTV cards for personal computers.

For more information, refer to the text of Commissioner Ness' remarks, Delivering on the Promise of Digital Television, delivered at the DTV Supersession, Consumer Electronics Show.

SATELLITE - CR Radio Files to Increase Number of Satellites (Jan. 7)
Satellite CD Radio, Inc. filed an application with the FCC for modification of its Digital Audio Radio Service satellite system. The requested modifications include increasing the number of satellites from two to three, operating all three satellites in inclined and elliptical (non-geostationary) orbits and using the 6/4 GHz frequency band for telemetry, tracking and control on a non-interfering basis. As reported in FCC Public Notice - file pnin9002.pdf, (Adobe Acrobat PDF format only).

DTV - Zenith Shows TV Antennas and HDTV Receivers at CES (Jan. 7)
Zenith announced "newly designed 'DTV Ready' antennas" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The descriptions of the antennas in the Zenith antenna press release did not reveal any unique characteristics other than "an updated, high-tech design to fit any decor." Four models were announced, two of which were described as having a UHF loop dipole antenna and a telescoping rod. One UHF/VHF model includes an amplifier with "range adjustment" and a variable gain control.

Zenith also used the CES to demonstrate its HDTV displays and the IQADTV1W HDTV receiver/decoder, which carries a suggested retail price of $5,999. More details on the HDTV demonstration are available in the press release Zenith Demonstrates HDTV Receivers at CES. More information on the CES show is available at www.cesweb.org/.

OTHER Items of Interest

January 4, 1999 - Issue 147 Final Edition

FCC Declines to Preempt Cable TV Agreements Requiring EAS Messaging Over All Channels (Dec. 31)
The FCC rejected a suggestion by the National Association of Broadcasters that the FCC adopt a policy that would require cable operators to not transmit the EAS message on channels carrying broadcast stations when such stations certify to the cable system they will meet certain requirements such as local news origination, the ability to run video crawls under programming to advise of emergencies, a master control center manned at all times when the station is on the air and weather equipment at the studio facility to support the stations' weather department.

The FCC found that "franchising officials are most familiar with local conditions and threats to their communities as well as the types of emergency information needed to respond to such threats. They are also best suited to work within their communities to develop state and local emergency alerting plans." The FCC's Third Report and Order noted that broadcast TV stations can cover a wide area and as such may not run all EAS message for all communities they serve via cable. The FCC did find that "the Commission's rules allowing cable operators and broadcasters to enter into written agreements to institute selective overrides provide participants sufficient flexibility in serving their audience while meeting obligations prescribed by Congress." The FCC stated "We find no merit in NAB's contention that negotiations with a multitude of different cable systems would make the rules 'unworkable' for broadcast stations."

Refer to the Third Report and Order - Amendment of Part 73, Subpart G, of the Commission's Rules Regarding the Emergency Broadcast System for more information.

SATELLITE - Columbia Communications Files to Activate Ku-Band capacity on TDRSS (Dec. 30)
Columbia Communications Corporation filed an application with the FCC requesting Special Temporary Authority "to activate in-orbit Ku-band capacity on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) spacecraft at 47 degrees W.L." The FCC International Bureau Public Notice (pnin8315) stated "Columbia proposes to test the Ku-band capacity of this satellite and to commence Ku-band service." Comments on this request must be filed on or before January 8th, with reply comments due January 14th. Note that the Public Notice is only available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

SATELLITE - Loral Requests Use of Morelos II to Serve TELSAR 303 Customers in Alaska (Dec. 28)
Loral Spacecom Corporation filed a Request with the FCC for Special Temporary Authority to use capacity on the Morelos II satellite for "temporary domestic service to customers in Alaska which currently use the TELSTAR 303 satellite at 120 degrees W.L." TELSTAR 303 is expected to reach its end of life the end of January. Reply comments must be filed on or before January 11. Comments had to be filed by January 4th. See the FCC International Bureau Public Notice (pnin8314) for more information. This file is available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format only.

DIGITAL TELEVISION STATION ACTIONS - See ac981229.txt for more information
Call (DT) Ch. Licensee Location ERP (kW) HAAT (m) Action
KTLA 31 KTLA Inc. Los Angeles CA 310 Granted change in antenna pattern and ERP

OTHER Items of Interest

Other Issues Available:



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Last modified January 26, 1999 by Doug Lung dlung@transmitter.com
Copyright 1999 H. Douglas Lung