Dielectric Welcomes FCC’s ATSC 3.0 NPRM

Recent FCC announcement encourages broadcasters to make equipment decisions in preparation for Spectrum Repack and ATSC 3.0, including the benefits of vertical polarization for mobile TV reception.

Dielectric is optimistic about the FCC’s release of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which seeks comments on the voluntary adoption of ATSC 3.0 by broadcasters as long as their ATSC 1.0 signal is kept available.

The announcement is an important development for local TV stations that choose to retain their broadcast licenses and continue over-the-air operations.

Decisions on equipment made for the repack can directly impact the station’s ability to take advantage of the features of the new OFDM-based, end-to-end IP connectivity that is native to the ATSC 3.0 standard. Perhaps the feature of most benefit to broadcasters is the ability to choose modulation and coding (MODCOD) combinations, which are tailored for robust reception by portable and mobile devices.

In concert with a robust MODCOD, the addition of vertical polarization – one of many antennas that Dielectric specializes in from an engineering standpoint – has been proven to further enhance reception in the high scatter environment that mobile device users will likely experience.

The specific amount of vertical polarization is not critical, according to John Schadler, Dielectric vice president of engineering. He notes that extensive field testing shows that as little as 20 percent of a vertical component can produce significant gains in fade margin. This is good news for broadcasters as the vertical component does require transmitter power - a very important consideration in equipment and operating costs.

“The timing of this NPRM could not be better as stations receive their new channel assignments and start planning for the TV spectrum repack,” said Keith Pelletier, vice president and general manager of Dielectric. “The repack is without question the greatest disruption for broadcasters in many years, yet the beginning of exciting new opportunities that the industry can now begin planning for in earnest.”

“Many broadcasters understand the benefits that vertical polarization provides and we are being asked to provide quotations for repack antennas with a vertical component for ATSC 1.0 use even if stations currently only have horizontally polarized antennas,” said Jay Martin vice president of sales, Dielectric.“The FCC can only reimburse repacked stations on a like-for-like basis, but the cost difference to add the vertical component to the antenna is relatively minor, considering that the installation costs will be reimbursable.”

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