Gray Television’s GrayMax Hotspot system is getting attention from other broadcasters and tests could start in Austin as early next year.
The IP-based system aims to provide the reliability of a microwave truck without the telescoping mast, and the newsgathering freedom of bonded cellular technology without the worry of being knocked off the air due to cellular congestion. Jim Ocon, Gray Television VP of technology and developer of GrayMax, which he’s now calling Community Hotspots, held a meeting in Austin on Wednesday with 10 people in attendance and five listening in on a conference call.
Participants included representatives from LIN Media, Fox, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Capitol Broadcasting, the City of Austin, TVU Networks and Silvus Technology:
- Michael Watson, director of operations at Gray Television
- P.L. Laird, director of engineering at Sinclair’s KEYE Austin, Texas
- Reed Daughtry, engineer tech coordinator at Belo’s KVUE Austin, Texas
- Jason Raddin, technical operations director at Gray’s KWTX Waco, Texas
- Chris Bell, VP technical operations at TVU Networks
- Jimi Henderson, VP sales at Silvus
- Peter Gogas, engineer at Gray’s KBTX Bryan, Texas
- Ben Ramos, director of field operations at Fox News
- Jim Gilbert, CEO of On Call Communications
- David Hillard, Gray’s legal counsel
- Mark Dunham, chief engineer of LIN Media’s KXAN Austin, Texas
- Mike Simpson, IT program services manager from the City of Austin
- George Csahanin, director of engineering at LIN Media
- Chuck Brotherton, wireless manager at the City of Austin.
“The purpose of the meeting was to see how we could step up our testing and try and overcome some of the issues that we might run into,” says Ocon.
Testing continues at KBTX Bryan, Texas (DMA 88), as previously reported on TVNewsCheck, and now Ocon says he’s going to work with the FCC to start tests in Austin, about an hour and a half southwest of Bryan. Gray will either have to obtain a new experimental license or modify its existing two-year license it has to operate the technology in Bryan.
The engineers at the meeting also discussed what types of APIs should be used for the system, such as wireless microphones.
The Community Hotspot system sends IP signals from a steerable antenna mounted under a dome on a newsgathering vehicle, like a small SUV, to strategically placed base stations with 18-inch antennas that relay the signals back to the TV station.
Ocon is hosting another meeting in Austin on Nov. 14.