Broadcast Transmitter Trends

New broadcast transmitter benchmarks set at NAB 2015.

Where else but at NAB can qualified buyers examine and shop for a new broadcast transmitter with the ease of looking under new car hoods at a Las Vegas auto show. Broadcast transmitter manufacturers and vendors lined up along a 'miracle mile' of NAB aisles to show all who knew what they were looking at the brightest and shiniest new broadcast RF transmission equipment in the world.

What best illustrated the next big thing in DTV RF delivery was the joint ONE Media, Comark and TeamCast end-to-end demonstration of the Next Generation Broadcast Platform (Next Gen) technology, developed by ONE Media for ATSC 3.0. The demonstration showed the live transmission of MPEG-H HEVC Ultra HD video and MPEG-H 3D audio content.

Broadcast transmitter manufacturers generally focused on two themes. One was the upgrade path for DTV exciters from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0. The other and most often mentioned theme for all transmitters radio and TV, analog and digital was efficiency. It was a common bragging right anchor in nearly every exhibit of transmitters requiring a license to operate.

Broadcast Electronics (Marti) introduced the STX 10 10kW FM Transmitter at NAB. With a size of only 22RU and able to fit in a standard rack and with 70% AC to RF efficiency, the transmitter features multiple hot-pluggable Power Amplifier Modules and Power Supply Modules. It also provides options for both the Power Supply and Controller Power Supply for an auxiliary spare.

The new BW Broadcast DSPX Encore audio processor has wide flexibility.

The new BW Broadcast DSPX Encore audio processor has wide flexibility.

BW Broadcast showed several new products including the DSPX Encore, an AM, FM & HD Audio Processor, said to be the ‘most flexible broadcast processor on the planet’. It comes with a complete range of highly optimized presets. DSPX Encore also has audio back-up options including internal flash memory, external USB, and IP Stream from audio inputs in the back panel.

BW Broadcast also showed its Plan B Encore – Silence Monitor and Back-up Audio Player, RDS Encore, RDS Encoder, IPCA Encore, Audio over IP Codec, Ariane Encore, Audio Leveler, RBRX Encore, and FM Re-broadcast Receiver.

COMARK was bursting with news. In addition in participating in the ATSC 3.0 Next Gen end-to-end demo with TeamCast and ONEMedia, it announced new financial stability and augmented R&D as Hitachi Kokusai has reorganized COMARK to a consolidated subsidiary of Hitachi Kokusai Electric America, Ltd.

COMARK PARALLAX liquid-cooled PA modules mount vertically for easier handling.

COMARK PARALLAX liquid-cooled PA modules mount vertically for easier handling.

COMARK introduced the E-Compact series of high efficiency air-cooled, solid-state UHF DTV transmitters. It supports most worldwide DTV standards including ATSC, DVB and ISDB-T. At its heart is a 3RU amplifier chassis that produces 800 watt ATSC. It also includes COMARK’s Digital Adapative Precorrection. The exciter is easily upgraded via firmware from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0. SNMP client is optional.

The company also announced the introduction of PARALLAX next generation medium and high power, liquid-cooled, solid-state transmitters. Up to 16 power amplifiers can be stacked in a single rack cabinet for up to 27.5kW. Also introduced were the EXACT next generation DTV exciters supporting ATSC and DVB DTV standards. EXACT‐ATSC and EXACT‐DVB exciters were developed as drop‐in replacements for existing COMARK transmitters or in standalone mode and can be loaded with ATSC or DVB firmware.

Crown Broadcast introduced a new FM transmitter.

Crown Broadcast introduced a new FM transmitter.

Crown Broadcast combined the latest technologies with ECRESO’s proven RF experience, to develop the Crown Broadcast E-250 FM transmitter. The unit is designed to offer an innovative and highly reliable solution for low power transmission. Part of the first FM transmitter line to be based on a 6th Generation MOSFET, the new Crown Broadcast E-250 FM is not only more robust, it also delivers exceptional efficiency. Top signal quality and performance are achieved thanks to the “FM Band Direct to Frequency” Digital Modulator which is at the heart of the transmitter.

DB Broadcast (Digital Broadcast) presented its new Mozart Wi-Fi Touch, hands-on experience to the easiest remote control of a transmitter. Options include complete WEB SERVER SNMP, GSM or SMS remote control, complete remote management via WiFi with WiFi Touch, and a 10 MHz external reference oscillator. Frequency Agile Broadband, controlled directly from the LCD front panel with 10 KHz steps without need for tuning tools.

DB Broadcast TV transmitters on display included DBTV / DBTU TV transmitters, MTI / MTV TV transmitters, MD TV transmitters, CTX TV exciters, KBI / KBV TV amplifiers and KD TV amplifiers.

Egatel's WUWH4000 series wideband high efficiency UHF TV transmitter.

Egatel's WUWH4000 series wideband high efficiency UHF TV transmitter.

Egatel showed its UHF Wideband High Efficiency Transmitters (WHET series), both liquid and air cooled. For the first time the Doherty technology becomes wideband, meaning that it is applicable to the whole UHF band. No amplifier modifications are required if the operator needs to change the RF channel.

The liquid cooled WHET series, was the center of a live demo of Doherty-Wideband 3.3 kWrms DVB/ISDB (5 kWrms ATSC) transmitter. This liquid-cooled system is defined by its complete modular design and includes the pump system integrated within the transmitter’s rack that optimizes facility layout and investment.

Egatel also demonstrated a WHET Series 600 Wrms DVB/ISDB (1 kWrms ATSC) Doherty transmitter feeding a dummy load. The amplifiers design includes aspects that synthesizes Egatel’s know how, avoiding air flow through electronic components or PCBs, using redundant power supplies with easy access from the forefront or placing fans outside the module for an easy replacement avoiding the need of opening it.

The use of Doherty technology in the new WHET Series amplifiers boosts energy efficiency up to 42%, optimizing energy consumption.

On the satellite side, the ‘Smart LNB’ was showcased, a terminal conceived by the satellite operator Eutelsat and implemented by Egatel. The ‘smart LNB’ is a cutting-edge electronic device connected to the satellite dish equipped with a novel transceiver that has a High Efficiency narrowband return link. The terminal will shake up the SatCom market, by opening the door to a wide range of satellite TV connected services such as: HbbTV, social networking, payment transactions, subscription-based management and on-demand services, etc; Besides TV connected services, the 'smart LNB' supports multiple Machine to Machine (M2M) applications: e-Health, smart Homes, and Smart Meterings.

GatesAir and Qligent aligned to improve TV Quality of Experience (QOE). A joint QoE demonstration showcased the newest and best RF stream monitoring and compliance verification system for any transmitter deployment. The concept is powered by Qligent’s Vision platform, a comprehensive QC, monitoring, analysis and troubleshooting system that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud as a managed service.

GatesAir showed the liquid-cooled Maxiva ULXT with PowerSmart 3D.

GatesAir showed the liquid-cooled Maxiva ULXT with PowerSmart 3D.

Qligent’s strength in monitoring multiple stream layer data points evolves the concept of remote transmitter monitoring, including simultaneous monitoring of critical coverage area boundaries, where fringe signal quality is a concern.

Integrated with GatesAir UHF and VHF transmitters, the combined platform will benefit both transitional and long-term monitoring across digital TV rollouts. The integrated platform is built to address monitoring and compliance requirements across emerging delivery platforms and challenges, including LTE mobile convergence and the spectrum repack.

GatesAir also demonstrated a new 10kW liquid-cooled Flexiva FLX. The new liquid cooled Flexiva FLX series merges the market leading performance and reliability of the Flexiva air-cooled platform with the proven ultra-high-efficiency, liquid-cooled technology of GatesAir’s Maxiva TV and DAB Radio transmitters. The Maxiva ULXT with PowerSmart 3D is a UHF television transmitter that uses 50V LDMOS amplifier devices, new compact high-efficiency power supplies and the Maxiva M2X exciter with RTAC. A single ULXT PowerSmart 3D amplifier model covers the entire frequency range of UHF band IV/V, without the need for adjustment or tuning of any kind. GatesAir 3D amplifier technology provides maximum power at minimum operating costs. 

Nautel showed its NT series of LP UHF DTV transmitters.

Nautel showed its NT series of LP UHF DTV transmitters.

Adding to its successful line of broadcast radio transmitters, Nautel introduced its NT series of low-power UHF DTV transmitters. Power output ranges from 150W to 1KW. The NT series is designed specifically for low-power TV broadcasting, retransmission or gap-filler applications. NT transmitters combine a modulator, power amp, adaptive pre-correction, a mask filter and remote control in a single unit.

ONEtastic's OnePower air-cooled 6000C TV transmitter (left), the 12000L liquid-cooled TV transmitter on right.

ONEtastic's OnePower air-cooled 6000C TV transmitter (left), the 12000L liquid-cooled TV transmitter on right.

ONEtastic introduced its OnePower series of air-cooled and "really cool" liquid-cooled high power TV transmitters. Both lines line are designed with high efficiency broadband Doherty technology for the highest efficiency. OnePower air-cooled transmitters are available for VHF and UHF, ranging from 2.4kW to 8kW in ATSC mode (20% less operating in COFDM).

Water-cooled OnePower transmitters output up to 12kW COFDM, 15kW ATSC or up to 22.5kW analog. The series includes an exciter with multiple input format interfaces, on-board GPS for SFN environments, and is available with a Dual-cast software option.

Multiple-amplifier OnePower transmitters come with a TFT touchscreen, Web GUI and SNMP. They also include a ONELOGIC control and monitoring unit with an embedded change over and switching system. They are frequency agile in UHF Band IV and V, or VHF Band III.

The OneCompact all-in-one transmitter outputs up to 750 W ATSC.

The OneCompact all-in-one transmitter outputs up to 750 W ATSC.

ONEtastic also introduced its OneCompact series of all-in-one transmitters. Dual-cast andlog and digital is supported along with DVB-T/H, DVB-T2, ISDB-T/Tb, DAB/DAB+/T-DMB. ATSC, PAL and NTSC. An optional satellite receiver can be integrated with the Re-Multiplexer/Layer Combiner/TS to BTS (188 to 204 byte) converter and transmitter in a single unit. Different input interfaces can be configured, such as satellite receiver, ASI, Gigabit Ethernet or RF, to fit the needs of any Digital TV network. Most OneCompact transmitters are 2RU. The 1200W model is 3RU.

Plisch introduced the 4000 Series of new Low Power TV Transmitters, up to 600 W, and new 4000 Series Medium Power TV Transmitters, up to 1300 W, and High Power TV transmitters up to 23400 W. Its revolutionary design is focused on the minimization of power loss over the transmitter system.

A new series of Plisch TV transmitters range from this compact LP model to the liquid-cooled 23kW T2V 4000.

A new series of Plisch TV transmitters range from this compact LP model to the liquid-cooled 23kW T2V 4000.

The Plisch 4000 series offers the latest Doherty technology and improves efficiency by fine tuning transistor voltage, and It provides enhanced adaptive pre-correction. The transmitters include remote monitoring of transmitter performance and quality and SNMP logging pre-fault alert functions. Higher power models have high efficiency speed controlled pumps and blowers and effective air cooling design with flexible air in-and-out outlets. The company also claims the world's smallest high power transmitter footprint.

Rohde & Schwarz showcased its video transmission product portfolio of encoding and multiplexing solutions supporting the high resolution 4K digital video format. The company also introduced an enhancement of the R&S VENICE ingest and production server. The R&S VENICE 4K server, presented as a technological preview, is specifically intended for use in 4K studio production workflows.

Rohde & Schwarz also displayed a wide range of transmitters. The R&S Tx9 transmitter generation of expandable transmitters sustainably reduce the total cost of ownership. Its compact design and energy efficiency of up to 50 percent for the ATSC standard can significantly lower transmitter electricity bills. Live demonstrations in the booth showed how the transmitters help to decrease operating costs and achieve savings of up to 70 percent. The R&S Tx9 product family ranges from single transmitters with a built-in pump unit and bandpass filter to multitransmitter systems and even N+1 configurations in a single rack.

Rohde & Schwarz AVHE100 live encoders played a key role in many 4K transmissions.

Rohde & Schwarz AVHE100 live encoders played a key role in many 4K transmissions.

The company also announced that the compact R&S AVHE100 was used during many live 4K broadcasts last year, from tennis matches to rock concerts. The system solution provides realtime HEVC encoding of 4K/UHD at up to 60 frames per second. The R&S AVHE100 encodes and multiplexes video and audio signals, and adds signaling data in line with the current standard. The headend supports the most common international digital broadcast standards. Other optional functions include encryption, monitoring and an innovative redundancy system (R&S CrossFlowIP).

TeamCast released new firmware for its Green4CAST OEM Modulator, featuring ISDB-T/TB standard, in addition to the DVB-T and DVB-T2 standards. Besides offering GAP (Green Adaptive Processing), the very latest state-of-the-art Digital Adaptive Precorrection algorithm designed by TeamCast, Green4Cast integrates all the mechanisms required to feed transmitter sites with ASI and/or IP streams in highly secured formats as well as a full control via a WEB GUI and SNMP.

The company introduced Jupiter, its new OEM DVB-S/S2 satellite demodulator board, dedicated to the professional Integrated Receiver/Decoder (IRD) segment. Jupiter adds a CID extraction capability so that a professional IRD using Jupiter can identify the signal it is locked to, and can be used as a tool for checking “on-the-fly” that the signal actually contains the CID data.

It also introduced the 3rd generation of its successful Vyper satellite modulator. The new Vyper combines two products in one, offering both IF and RF (L-Band) signal outputs on a single product, for a maximum flexibility in system built-up, operation and maintenance.

Additionally, it offers CID insertion, responding today to the short term requirements for use in the USA (2016 for DSNG application, and 2018 for all applications) and is future-ready, worldwide. Vyper also supports multi-stream operation through IP inputs, in addition to multi-stream through ASI inputs. Its DVB-S2X compliant, with new MODCOD, 64APSK modulation and low Roll-Off values for maximum transmission efficiency.

TeamCast showed its new VORTEX exciter.

TeamCast showed its new VORTEX exciter.

The company also announced VORTEX, a new stand-alone Terrestrial TV exciter supporting ATSC 1.0 and ready for ATSC 3.0. It comes as a ready-to-use stand-alone rack modulator/exciter, specifically designed to be integrated inside new and existing TV transmitter systems.

VORTEX integrates TeamCast’s third generation ATSC 1.0 modulation core. VORTEX also provides a clear upgrade path to ATSC 3.0 (when approved) by enabling a simple field installed software license. This unique Teamcast solution eliminates the need for additional Exciter purchases when ATSC 3.0 becomes the standard.

Thomson Broadcast showcased its line of transmitters including the Futhura High-power, Nextivity Medium-power, Elete 100 Medium-power GreenPower transmitters. The exhibit also included the low-power (20-150W) Dreamline single channel  transmitter and the multi-channel Elite 10 repeater & transmitter, rated at 5 to 130W output.

Thomson Video Networks introduced a new management and monitoring tool, MediaFlexSUITE.

Thomson Video Networks introduced a new management and monitoring tool, MediaFlexSUITE.

Thomson Video Networks showed MediaFlexSUITE, a unified, service-driven management solution that enables digital TV operators to process content from many sources for delivery on a variety of platforms, including satellite, terrestrial, cable, IPTV, and OTT. MediaFlexSUITE gives digital TV operators unique capabilities for monitoring, configuring, and dynamically changing their channel lineups for both broadcast and multi-screen services. MediaFlexSUITE is a central component in Behind Every Screen, Thomson Video Networks’ strategy for an all-encompassing video delivery infrastructure that supports broadcast and OTT streaming of SD, HD, and Ultra HD (UHD) content on every screen.

The company also introduced an update of its award-winning ViBE EM4000 premium HD/SD encoder featuring an all-new, broadcast-grade SD-to-HD conversion capability. With the newest version, broadcasters can now combine premium HD MPEG-4 compression with the ability to upscale an SD video source to HD. With both functions in one solution, the EM4000 enables broadcasters to move more quickly to an all-HD broadcast operation while, at the same time, reducing capital and operating expenses.

TRedess new Fourth Series transmitters are optimized for efficiency.

TRedess new Fourth Series transmitters are optimized for efficiency.

TRedess introduced Fourth Series, a new generation of ISDB-T/Tb transmitters line optimized for efficiency. This new generation of transmitters and gap-fillers output up to 350 watts, and optimized for energy efficiency with Ultra-Wide-Band Doherty. A part of the TRedess gap-filler transmitter series, the unit is compact, flexible, and efficient. It uses the same hardware across the UHF band and maintaining high performance and ease of use, both in operation and maintenance.

TRedess Compact Series was also demonstrated as an optimal solution for multichannel scenarios, and has been widely deployed by leading operators of DTT networks around the world.

Business Security

In the world of broadcast transmitters NAB 2015 was the year of higher efficiencies, smaller packages and the flexibility necessary to adapt to future digital transmission progress. Broadcast RF engineers and the television stations and networks they work for are a rare breed that demand the highest quality and reliability. Disaster stories spread quickly in this tiny niche. The market knows a broadcast transmitter failure is analogous to a broken cash register on a vastly larger scale. Both are business disasters worthy of investment to avoid.

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