OTA TV Transmission Technology Update

Like the broadcasters they serve, the Las Vegas 2020 NAB Show and annual Amsterdam IBC events were forced to go virtual. Show or no shows, TV shows go on, and 2020 OTA TV transmission technology is moving faster than ever. Here’s some of what leading TV RF experts hoped to share with exhibit visitors in person.

Rohde & Schwarz transitioned to a virtual IBC exhibitor, with a strong ATSC 3.0 transmission experience history. The company carved out almost 90 percent of the global ATSC 3.0 market, with more than 60 R&S ATSC 3.0 commercial TV transmitters now on the air in South Korea. R&S currently supports multiple ATSC 3.0 customers throughout North America and Korea. During the US spectrum repack auction, R&S delivered hundreds of ATSC 3.0-ready TV transmitters.

“NextGen TV is bringing wide-scale terrestrial broadcasting into the IP age,” said Manfred Reitmeier, Vice President Transmitter and Amplifier Systems at Rohde & Schwarz. “At Rohde & Schwarz, we see a critical role supporting broadcast network operators in their transition by supplying the world’s first software-based Next Gen TV system and the world’s most field-proven solution."

With the transition to NextGen TV, operators can extend their coverage via Single Frequency Networks. The coverage of existing high-power sites can be efficiently extended by adding lower power auxiliary sites to generate a single frequency network. These auxiliary sites need efficient ways to feed signals and an IP-based standard such as NextGen TV meets this requirement.

The RelayCaster provides QoS maximization for unmanaged IP network links. It recovers up to 50% packet loss and eliminates jitter.

The RelayCaster provides QoS maximization for unmanaged IP network links. It recovers up to 50% packet loss and eliminates jitter.

The R&S RelayCaster solution enables a public internet connection to be used to link to R&S Next Gen TV transmitters. Dedicated RF STLs are no longer necessary, and the internet simplifies feeding a network of SFN transmitters. Typically, SFN transmitters fill in RF shadows that can't receive a TV channel or its broadcast STL microwave signal. Until broadcast-quality public internet solutions recently became available, an expensive, fractional digital satellite transponder was about the only way to deliver studio content to multiple remote SFN sites with simultaneous timing.

Rohde & Schwarz also announced the successful completion of a DVB-T2 (HD) terrestrial TV transmitter network upgrade that spans Finland. Working with Helsinki-based Digita, owner and operator of Finland’s terrestrial network for nationwide TV and radio transmission services, Rohde & Schwarz has supplied more than 80 UHF HD transmitters across the country. The network of transmitters was installed and commissioned by Digita’s professional services team. The first phase became operational 1st January this year, enabling Digita to expand their Pay-TV UHF terrestrial networks up to 90% coverage. In addition, Digita reports significant enhancements in power efficiency and redundancy concepts throughout the new HD TV network.

The Comark EC720LP AT1 provides 125 watts output for LPTV.

The Comark EC720LP AT1 provides 125 watts output for LPTV.

Hitachi Kokusai Electric Comark recently announced the introduction of several products for the LPTV and gap-filler market. The E-Compact EC702MP-BB3 (250W) and EC704MP-BB3 (500W) series high-efficiency air-cooled solid-state UHF DTV transmitters are built specifically for the LPTV repack market.

The two new models feature the latest asymmetric broadband Doherty LDMOS amplifiers, same as the well-known PARALLAX series liquid-cooled, high-power UHF transmitters. The amplifier technology delivers power efficiencies up to 44%. In addition, the “BB3” models both utilize dual, commercial off-the-shelf AC to DC rectifiers for their power supply system that plugs into the front panel for quick service. Users can either mount the transmitter in their existing equipment rack cabinet or in an optional 10RU rack.

The air-cooled PA design includes automatic cooling fan speed control that provides lower acoustic noise levels during operation. The transmitters include a built-in web-GUI and SNMP for remote control and monitoring. The E-Compact also features EXACT-V2 IP Optimized DTV exciters with DualCast technology and is easily upgraded from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0.

The company also announced the EC705LP-AT1 and EC720LP-AT1 Air-Cooled Transmitters that are also being released specifically for the LPTV repack market. These two new models, EC705LP-AT1 and EC720LP-AT1, incorporate the ATSC exciter, driver, and final PA into a single rack-mountable chassis. The EC720LP-AT1 includes a slot that can accommodate a second, optional backup power supply for full redundancy. Customers can either mount the transmitter in their existing equipment rack cabinet or use an optional 10RU rack.

The EC700LP-AT1 series of transmitters feature System-on-Chip (SoC) technology. SoC integrates multiple system elements into a compact architecture utilizing high power processing power and superior reliability.

Comark also announced a reseller agreement with VideoFlow for intelligent STL content delivery over IP networks, including the public Internet. The VideoFlow products will be integrated into the end-to-end workflows for both ATSC 1.0 and 3.0. The agreement appoints COMARK as an authorized reseller of the VideoFlow Digital Video Protection (DVP) software suite and corresponding hardware appliances. VideoFlow’s DVP allows for the highest reliability of content protection and delivery through any IP network while providing the lowest cost STL solution, of particular benefit to SFNs. DVP also offers broadcasters additional capabilities including IP path diversity, spoke and hub architectures, content sourced from Cloud Services, and confidence monitoring.

How close are the wave lengths of VHF TV and FM signals? The NextGen TV-ready DCR-Q antenna looks like a FM antenna because that's what it was.

How close are the wave lengths of VHF TV and FM signals? The NextGen TV-ready DCR-Q antenna looks like a FM antenna because that's what it was.

Dielectric announced 959 repack antenna bookings and more than 930 shipped. The company reported an approximate 82 percent of the total repack market share, and a strong foundation to address emerging business opportunities. Jay Martin, Vice President of Sales at Dielectric added, “Upon adding in non-repack projects, we estimate that Dielectric will ship 1065 medium-to-high power antennas within the same period in North America alone by the conclusion of repack.”

“Beyond antennas, we built 111 miles of transmission line, 1039 RF filters, and 101 multichannel combiners for TV alone,” said Martin. “We built 395 complete RF systems and we built many of these within days to address very short lead times. The volume of product we have manufactured and shipped has been astronomical. We’re applying similar advance preparation strategies as more NextGen TV opportunities surface. That will ensure we can properly address growing interest in our Powerlite low-power antenna systems for ATSC 3.0 SFNs, while also serving our other customers without delay.”

Dielectric’s recently-introduced RFHAWKEYE for real-time monitoring of antenna feed systems will serve another critical business need moving forward, providing customers with previously unavailable status monitoring of these essential systems.

Dielectric debuted its new DCR-Q Series this year. The DCR-Q Series reduces the space normally required on a tower to support a traditional, low frequency panel or super turnstile channel 2 – 6 antenna, with its economical, versatile and space-saving design.

The DCR-Q design looks like an FM antenna because it was adapted from the existing Dielectric DCR Series FM antenna family, with the goal of producing a more affordable and space efficient low-band VHF solution. Dielectric developed the DCR-Q concept in response to a request by Los Angeles broadcaster KWHY-DT, which voluntarily moved from UHF to VHF Channel 4 as a result of the FCC repack.

Dielectric also introduced a new Dual RF Switch Controller to the market that simplifies local and remote control of transmission systems. The new DRFSC device integrates SNMP and secure web-based capabilities to streamline the management of waveguide and coaxial transfer switch activation for modern TV and radio transmitters. Benefits include plug-and-play adaptability to accelerate installation, streamlined hardware requirements, and networked status monitoring with richer data sets.

Powered by Burk Technology, the Dielectric DRFSC can control up to two, four-port RF switches to provide flexible RF routing in systems with auxiliary transmitters and/or antennas. Users can locally activate control from its front panel, or remotely through a web browser interface.

Powered by Burk Technology, the Dielectric DRFSC can control up to two, four-port RF switches to provide flexible RF routing in systems with auxiliary transmitters and/or antennas. Users can locally activate control from its front panel, or remotely through a web browser interface.

Dielectric will strengthen its global Powerlite brand for broadcasters with new systems built specifically for NextGen TV, based on the ATSC 3.0 standard.

The new Powerlite TFU-WB-LP Series was planned for a 2020 NAB Show debut, and it addresses the unique requirements of ATSC 3.0 single-frequency networks (SFNs). The series supports multiple SFN antenna variations and patterns and includes filters, and transmission line to build complete ATSC 3.0 systems. It also includes software-defined proposal generators to help broadcasters develop perfectly-defined, multi-site, low-power antenna systems.

GatesAir announced a wider range of Maxiva transmitters and next-generation software innovations for digital broadcasters. The company recently introduced its first Maxiva liquid-cooled transmitter line for VHF television and DAB Radio, along with several compact, high-density transmission solutions from its new GatesAir Europe division. GatesAir has also unveiled several ATSC 3.0 software innovations to address the unique IP networking architecture and security requirements of NextGen TV.

GatesAir extended the proven operational benefits of its liquid-cooled UHF transmitters to VHF and DAB Radio with the global debut of its Maxiva VLX-OP Series. The high-efficiency, frequency-agile transmitter line covers low-band VHF (Channels 2-6), high-band VHF (Channels 7-13), and DAB/DAB+ radio. The VLX-OP Series offers the same software-defined modulations as Maxiva VAXTE air-cooled transmitters to support global analog and digital standards.

GatesAir also extended its Maxiva Transmission Family with UAXT Ultra-Compact / VAXT Ultra-Compact TV transmitters.

GatesAir also extended its Maxiva Transmission Family with UAXT Ultra-Compact / VAXT Ultra-Compact TV transmitters.

The Maxiva UAXT & VAXT Ultra-Compact family of UHF solid-state Transmitters / Transposers (Translators) and on-channel Gap Fillers expands upon the proven foundation of GatesAir low-power systems and PowerSmart high-efficiency technology.

At the other end of the power scale, GatesAir’s Maxiva ULXTE liquid-cooled UHF transmitters such as the VLX-OP Series, integrate redundant, liquid-cooling pumps that efficiently move transmitter-generated heat to building exteriors. The system minimizes cooling requirements inside RF shelters, and especially reduces utility bills at medium-to-high power levels. The VLX-OP Series also leverages the unparalleled power density of Maxiva transmitters to reduce size and weight, and hot-swappable modular designs to streamline maintenance.

GatesAir also recently introduced advanced software features for NextGen TV content protection such as STL Security, a layer that encrypts the ATSC 3.0 content path. These features, along with a secure HTML5 web interface, will be available in all Maxiva UHF and VHF transmitters.

“GatesAir has been focused on development roadmaps for ATSC 3.0 for years, and has tested and validated the basic feature sets of the standard,” said Ray Miklius, Vice President and General Manager, TV Products, GatesAir. “We have now turned our attention to software development for advanced ATSC 3.0 features, including access control and improved user account management. These innovations ensure that our customers are fully prepared for NextGen TV operations.”

Maxiva PMTX-1 Pole-Mount Transmitter Series: An outdoor pole-mounted 50W post-filter transmitter unit that can be configured as a transmitter, translator or on-channel gap filler. Covering all UHF/VHF standards plus DAB Radio, the PMTX-1 comes in a rugged, telecom-grade weatherproof enclosure ideal for extreme weather conditions, and it allows installations where transmitter buildings are not available. The DC-powered, pole-mount design has no moving parts or air filters, eliminating most maintenance requirements.

The Maxiva IMTX-70 Multi-Transmitter Desktop is designed in a unique compact case that can house up to six 70 W TV transmitters and/or translators/transposers, the ingenious packaging of this unique transmitter minimizes real estate costs associated with multi-transmitter operational support.

Maxiva MultiD Multi-Carrier DAB Transmitter: The MultiD multi-carrier platform brings three DAB transmitters together into a compact 1RU chassis — a unique design attribute that reduces space and equipment costs, and simplifies installation. The multi-carrier architecture removes the need for external RF combining, and instead generates and re-transmits all three channels through a single amplifier. The multi-carrier modulation supports adjacent and non-adjacent frequencies, providing a flexible lower cost solution for DAB networks.

Enensys announced its participation in a worldwide alliance of developers and manufacturers enabling and streamlining the evolution of NextGen TV and OTT systems.

Enensys announced its participation in a worldwide alliance of developers and manufacturers enabling and streamlining the evolution of NextGen TV and OTT systems.

This summer, the industry’s leading broadcast and cable media solution providers launched the NextGen Video Information Systems Alliance, a worldwide coalition of developers and manufacturers, including Enensys Technologies.

Alliance members are pooling their cross-industry expertise to collaborate, implement standards, and create best practices to help broadcasters accelerate their transformation toward next-generation ATSC 3.0 systems.

The Alliance’s initial objective is to ensure the successful deployment of enhanced emergency information solutions across the ATSC 3.0 ecosystem, including next-generation Advanced Emergency Information applications, enhanced media display for the Emergency Alert System, and accessible emergency information audio.

Enensys also announced delivery of more than 50 of its ASIIPGuard switches to BAI Communications for use within their Digital Terrestrial television (DTT) distribution network. The ASIIGuard switches will be used for switching between main and backup links in the transmitter distribution network. ASIIPGuard is an autonomous switch, offering 2:1 and 3:1 switching with options for seamless TS switching as well as IP input and output. Colin Prior, VP Sales APAC for Enensys added, “We are delighted that BAI Communications has selected Enensys technology to perform this vital function to its digital terrestrial network. The ASIIPGuard product has been developed specifically to meet the requirements of network operators such as BAI Communications to ensure high availability of services.”

In addition, Enensys announced that Edge Networks has selected it to roll out Evoca, an Innovative American NextGen TV Service. This new service will use a classical OTA TV antenna and a dedicated smart TV receiver to address the needs of customers in small and mid-sized markets – where few bandwidth options are available and cable television is expensive. Evoca will mix content from over the air, internet OTT and offer VOD.

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