Category Archives: spectrum repack

Dielectric To Open New TV Antenna Factory

Dielectric is opening a new manufacturing plant in Lewiston, Maine. It will be dedicated to the production of UHF antennas.

Dielectric this fall plans to open a 33,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lewiston, Maine, 25 miles north of its headquarters in Raymond.

The new plant will be used to meet increased demand stemming from the FCC’s repack of the television band. It will produce all UHF main and auxiliary TV antennas when opened, the company said.

About 50 people will work at the new facility. They will include a mix of new hires from the Lewiston area and long-time Dielectric employees, who in many instances will work at the new facility as well as at the Raymond headquarters, Dielectric said.

Manufacturing Manager Mike Spugnardi will oversee daily operations and report to Dielectric VP-GM Keith Pelletier.

More information is available on the Dielectric website.

 

Meredith Selects Comark Parallax TX For Six Stations

Meredith Local Media Group has ordered Parallax transmitters from Hitachi Kokusai Electric Comark to satisfy its obligations in the FCC’s TV spectrum repack, Comark announced this week.

The new transmitters will be delivered to Meredith stations KSMO Kansas City, Mo.; WHNS Greenville, S.C.; WNEM Saginaw, Mich.; WPCH Atlanta; WFSB Harford-New Haven, Conn.; and WGGB Springfield, Mass., the company said. Three will be delivered before the end of the year.

The transmitters  range from 10 KW to 65 KW. Each will be delivered with Comark’s Exact-V2 exciter, which can be upgraded via software to ATSC 3.0 in the future. The liquid-cooled transmitters also will be shipped with RF mask filter systems.

More information is available on the company’s website.

Raycom Media Orders 29 Dielectric Antennas For Repack

Raycom Media is acquiring 29 antennas and other RF equipment from Dielectric to meet its spectrum repack needs.

Raycom Media has placed an order for 29 UHF and VHF antennas, tunable RF filers and transmission line from Dielectric to execute its TV spectrum repack obligations, the antenna manufacturer announced this week.

The Dielectric antennas for Raycom includes:

  • TFU-WB UHF arrays, a low-cost, sidemount UHF broadband pylon antenna.
  • TFU-G, TFU-E and TFU-J UHF arrays.
  • THV VHF arrays.

Many of the antenna arrays include elliptical polarization to enhance ATSC 1.0 reception and to prepare for 3.0 operation.

Dielectric will begin to ship the antennas to Raycom tower sites in September and expects to complete delivery of the last antenna in February 2020.

Raycom stations that are part of FCC repack phases one and two will receive their new antennas in the third and fourth quarters of 2017. Those stations in later phases will receive their new antennas three to six months from their phase deadlines, Dielectric said.

The TFU-WB offers a higher voltage handling ability and higher peak to average power ratio, which makes them appropriate for SFN deployment as part of a future ATSC 3.0 rollout.

More information is available on the Dielectric website.

 

Rohde & Schwarz Adds Personnel To Assist In Repack

Devin Wickham, Don Backus and Faizal Iqbal have joined Rohde & Schwarz to assist the company in supporting new and existing customers as they move to new channels to fulfill their FCC spectrum repack obligations.

Wickham and Iqbal, who joined the company in June and July, respectively, are application engineers focused on field service and installations, the company said.

Backus, who joined the company in July, is an account manager for radio and HD radio products.

Wickham, Backus and Iqbal can be reached via email:

Backus: [email protected]

Iqbal: [email protected]

Wickham: [email protected]

T-Mobile Offers To Defray Certain LPTV Relocation Costs

T-Mobile is offering to help TV translator and LPTV operators that must change channel assignments twice due to its rapid 600 MHz wireless deployment with their relocation-associated expenses, the company said in an ex parte communications sent to the FCC today.

“The potential for T-Mobile’s broadband deployment to outpace the anticipated timing of the FCC’s displacement window could require some secondary licensees [LPTV and translator stations] to relocate to temporary channels that differ from the permanent alternative channels the secondary operators may receive following the assignment of frequencies available during the Special Displacement Window,” the letter said.

While the Spectrum Act of 2012 makes no provision to pay of the relocation expenses of secondary license holders, “T-Mobile appreciates that its rapid deployment may create an additional burden on these secondary operators if they need to relocate more than once,” the company said.

T-Mobile is offering to reimburse translator and LPTV operators for costs they reasonably incur to comply with moving to a permanent channel assignment received via the FCC’s Special Displacement Window “to the extent those channel assignments differ from the channel assignment” they might build out post displacement from the 600 MHz band, the company said.

The offer only applies to those secondary license holders affected by T-Mobile’s expedited deployment, the company said.

In a written statement responding to the T-Mobile offer, Dennis Wharton, NAB EVP, Communications, said: “NAB is gratified by the T-Mobile announcement, which recognizes the important role that low power TV stations play in providing quality entertainment and lifeline news and information to millions of TV viewers.”

Let’s Hope Reasonable FCC Response On LMS Crash Extends To Repack Deadline

I was only five years old when the final piece of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was hoisted into place some 630 feet above the ground below.

But I remember the iron workers building the Arch spayed water onto the south leg to cool it off. Otherwise, thermal expansion of the stainless steel leg would have made it impossible to place the last section.

Those iron workers and engineers understood the challenge, adapted to the circumstances and overcame a potentially serious obstacle.

That memory seems strangely appropriate to the TV spectrum repack and what transpired at the FCC on Wednesday (July 12) afternoon as the computer servers powering the agency’s Licensing and Management System (LMS) choked.

It appears roughly half of the 957 TV stations assigned to new channels waited until the 11th hour to log onto the LMS and file an FCC form that detailed their existing RF plants and estimated the expense of replacing them.

I know firsthand how unstable the filing system became. Wednesday was the fifth day of my LMS fishing expedition. It involved entering the call sign of each station changing channels, looking to see if they had yet filed their Form 399s, retrieving them one by one and collecting their estimated expense information.

But by Wednesday afternoon when the LMS began returning internal server error messages, freezing up and even taking me to wrong web pages, it became clear serious server trouble was developing.

My problem, however, paled in comparison to that of stations finding it impossible to file. They were working against an 11:59 p.m. filing deadline in order to qualify for the first allocation of funds from the $1.75 billion broadcaster relocation fund.

When my FCC contact arrived in his office Thursday morning, he had an email from me waiting in his in box. My question was simple: “What about the stations that missed the deadline because of the LMS server meltdown?”

To his credit and that of the agency, the response was quite reasonable. In part, it said:

“We are aware that some filers attempting to submit yesterday afternoon and evening had difficulty submitting their filings. We’ve been in contact with most those entities and are working with them to get their estimates submitted. Any entities experiencing technical difficulties will not be excluded from the initial allocation.”

Just like those iron workers spraying water onto a leg of the Arch, the FCC understood the challenge, adapted to the circumstances and overcame.

I can only hope the same will be said of how the agency treats the inevitable delays stations will experience as a limited number of qualified tower crews –many of which will be working at more than three times the height of the Gateway Arch- encounter weather, wind and unplanned for rigging obstacles.

Repack phase testing and completion deadlines are tight, numerous and interdependent. Inevitably delays will mount and begin rippling throughout the process, making the 36 months left to complete the project harder and harder to achieve.

Back in the early 1960s, those in the know predicted 13 construction workers would lose their lives in accidents while building the Gateway Arch. Not a single worker died.

Let’s hope no one on a tower rigging crew dies in the process of trying to complete this very dangerous work on a very tight deadline.

An important first step in achieving the goal of zero fatalities will be a willingness on the part of the FCC to adapt and overcome by extending the 36-month deadline as needed.

It’s one thing to pick up the pieces after a server crashes and quite another after tons of steel do.

RF Notifications Offers Medical Notification Service

I have received word from another company that is offering services to help broadcasters with their FCC-required medical notifications.

This company, RF Notifications, (similar in name to the company I wrote about earlier today, but different), has developed a two-step program for stations changing channel assignments to address the medical facility notification required by the FCC.

RF Notifications is a partnership between Pete Sockett, director of engineering and operations at Capitol Broadcasting’s WRAL in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and his wife Lisa. (RF Notifications is unaffiliated with WRAL and its parent company.)

Once RF Notifications receives pertinent information from a broadcaster, the first step involves the company creating a custom database of medical facilities in the affected area, preparing a notification document and creating the entire mailing and report packet for a station to review and approve. Once approved, the package is stored and ready to mail  at the appropriate time.

Step two involves monitoring the progress of the station as it prepares to change channels. When RF Notifications estimates the station is within six months of its air date it will refresh the database of medical facilities that must be notified.

More information is available on the RF Notification website.

 

Online Service Addresses DTV Medical Notification

Broadcasters affected by the spectrum repack must notify medical facilities of their new channel assignments to avoid interfering with medical telemetry devices as required by the FCC.

To address this requirement, DTVNotification.com has setup an online server for digital TV stations that provides the necessary medical notifications for stations, according to Dennis Wallace, managing partner in broadcast technical consultancy Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace.

Using the online tool, stations enter their call sign and receive an instant quote for the medical notification service that they can use to complete their FCC Schedule 399 form filing. The form must include cost estimates for reimbursable expenses, which include medical notification, involved in changing DTV channel assignments.

Stations are required to file construction permit applications for their new RF channel as well as their cost estimates by the July 12, 2017 filing deadline.

DTVNotification.com says it provides:

  • Medical facility notification letters to potentially affected medical facilities within a station’s coverage area.
  • Public file letter certifying that the required notification letters have been sent to area medical facilities.
  • FCC license application exhibit certifying the required notification letters have been sent to area medical facilities.

More information is available at DTVNotification.com.

Share This NAB Repack Video

Here are two ideas for TV and radio broadcasters about the repack of TV spectrum. (Radio broadcasters will feel the sting of the repack, too.)

First, send a link to this NAB-produced YouTube video on the repack to every member of the House of Representative and the Senate.

(Here’s a link to the Congress.gov website to find the email addresses of your representatives and senators.)

Second, ask NAB for permission to start running this video for viewers.

It’s time for the American public and its representatives in Congress to understand what this 39-month repack is all about.

 

 

 

Quincy Media Chooses GatesAir As Exclusive TX Source For Repack

Quincy Media has selected GatesAir to provide transmitters, installation services and commissioning groupwide on an exclusive basis to meet its needs for the FCC-mandated TV spectrum repack, GatesAir announced today.

The deal includes new Maxiva ULXTE liquid-cooled UHF and VAXTE air-cooled VHF transmitters, while existing GatesAir transmitters at select stations will be modified to meet new channel assignments, the company said.

While the group has stations in all 10 repack phases, it is Phase 1 that is most concerning to Brady Dreasler, corporate director of engineering at Quincy.

“We are conducting tower studies at all sites to confirm what level of reinforcement work will be required,” said Dreasler. “But we feel prepared with our transmitter choices, and the new TPO levels for each of these channels.”

The GatesAir XTE exciter used in these transmitters “sets us up for ATSC 3.0 transitions coming out of the repack period,” he said.

Quincy Media and GatesAir are working on determining which existing transmitters can be channel-changed.

Dreasler and GatesAir are working on a plan to bring in temporary backup transmitters to station transmitter plants where space is limited while work progresses to meet repack requirements.

At sites where space is limited, the plan being considered envisions a trailer housing the temporary transmitter so that it can be moved from site to site to keep stations on-air while repack work is being done.

More information is available on the GatesAir website.