SBE-SMPTE February Meeting Summary
Over 50 members of SMPTE, SBE and AES were on hand at Rocky Mountain PBS on Wednesday, February 23 to learn about HD Radio. Jim Schoedler, Denver SBE Chairman, introduced the topic and the speakers. First up was Stephen Wallace, Broadcast Business Manager for iBiquity Digital, who expressed appreciation for the high level of adoption of the technology by Denver radio stations. He was followed by Russ Mundschenk who manages iBiquity's field test group that has collected data on HD Radio's performance and compatibility for five years. Russ presented a tutorial that covered virtually all aspects of HD radio, from spectrum utilization to transmitter configurations to antenna designs to real world coverage. Earlier in the day Russ made measurements of Denver radio's HD signals and commented on how well they were performing.
The tutorial was followed by a live demonstration of public jazz station KUVO-FM's HD signal, arranged by Chief Engineer Mike Pappas. KUVO's signals were received on a prototype of the first practical digital FM modulation monitor. Wrapping up the evening, Bob Hensler, Jim Paluzzi and Al Stewart of Colorado Public Radio described their experience putting HD radio on air at KCFR-AM. Jim reported much better coverage of the HD signal in areas where the analog AM signal fades. Each presentation was followed by a lively and informative question and answer session. Attendees had come from as far as Colorado Springs to learn about this new technology.
Random Radio Thoughts
In addition to what you see in the trades, there is a lot of "back channel" back-and-forth taking place, too. Just recently, I got an email note from a gentleman that owns a radio station south of Rochester, NY. He took exception with a letter to the editor that I wrote to Radio World. It was something I wrote many months ago and forgot about. Evidently it was published in an issue that I haven't seen yet.
This gentleman more or less "let me have it" for my support of the Ibiquity HD Radio system for AM. He accused the "big groups" of getting "...sweetheart deals from Ibiquity to implement this horrible system." He cited such items as the "adjacent-channel issue," the "mode-hunting" outside the primary service area, and even asserted that "...the 34 kHz sample doesn't provide a significant improvement over a wideband analog signal."
When I read his missive, I was initially somewhat baffled and a little angry. Clearly he does not have an accurate understanding of the Ibiquity HD Radio system.
It was easy to shoot down all his arguments and straighten out his erroneous "facts." Maybe some groups got "sweetheart deals" from Ibiquity, but to my knowledge, our company got the same incentives that were available to everyone in each market where we have fired up HD Radio signals. There is no "adjacent channel" issue within the protected contour if the digital station stays within the RF mask prescribed in §73.44. "Mode hunting" on scanning radios is only a problem where there is a strong digital signal adjacent to a weak analog signal, something unlikely to be the case within the analog station's market. And anyone who has heard an HD AM station on a digital radio knows that the difference between the best analog AM audio and AM HD audio is incredible. If you haven't heard it yet, get with some of the folks at KPOF, KOA or KCFR here in Denver. I'm sure they would be glad to give you a demo.
But then I started looking behind the flawed arguments at this man's specific situation to see what might be behind his vehement opposition to the Ibiquity system. It didn't take long to figure it out. He operates an AM station south of Rochester (and licensed to a separate community that is too far away to be considered a "suburb"). He gets into Rochester pretty well with his 2.5 kW daytime signal, and his 500-watt nighttime signal just skirts the south edge of town with a 50% interference-free signal. In all likelihood, except after a solar event, he likely covers a good bit of Rochester with a listenable signal at night. No doubt the bulk of the station's revenues comes from Rochester, not from the 4,000 or so people in his community of license.
If adjacent-channel WBZ in Boston fires up digital carriers at night, his Rochester coverage is gone along with the revenues it produces. If adjacent-channel WSEN fires up digital carriers daytime, chances are his daytime Rochester coverage will be diminished. This gentleman stands to lose a great deal should AM HD Radio start to proliferate in the northeast. I began to understand the reasons for his vehement objections.
His dilemma is that he doesn't have a legal argument to stand on. His nighttime Rochester coverage is not protected. He is not entitled to any Rochester coverage at night, and WBZ and others who may begin AM HD operations have every right to produce interference there as long as they operate within the provisions of §73.44. But that doesn't change the fact that this gentleman and his station have been generating revenues from this coverage for years.
There is a principle in law called "adverse possession." In short, if a person has been using another's property without opposition or objection for a long period of time, he becomes entitled to its use. The principle says that if the owner of the property didn't want the other individual to use his property, he had ample opportunity to object.
I think the situation that this gentleman and a lot of other stations will soon find themselves in amounts to adverse possession. My company experienced this firsthand in Chicago, when our FM digital carriers effectively killed the rim-shot Chicago coverage of several exurban adjacencies. Were those stations entitled to that outside-the-contour coverage? No. Was our station entitled to the spectrum that produced the interference? Absolutely. Did that make things any better for the two stations whose revenues we impacted? I seriously doubt it.
The "adverse possession" principle does not apply in broadcast spectrum management. All a station is ever entitled to is the area within its protected contour, and in some cases not even that. I think that a lot of stations are going to lose significant amounts of coverage, particularly at night, if the FCC ever removes the ban on AM IBOC nighttime transmissions. The ones who will take the biggest hit are those who operate with low-power "secondary" (i.e. unprotected) nighttime operations. And perhaps these are the most fragile of operations. No, it isn't fair.
But that being said, I believe that if we don't move into the digital world soon and in a qualitative way, AM will begin to wind down as a viable medium. We are already competing with FM, and both AM and FM are competing with satcasters and personal audio devices. In ten years, assuming that HD Radio takes off for FM (and it will), who will listen to analog AM when they can hear Rush, Hannity and the local "sports zoo" in full-fidelity static-free stereo on the second program channel of the co-owned FM station? I think you know the answer.
So what is the answer for all the small AM stations that will be harmed by AM HD Radio? Good question. Crawford owns several such stations, and like it or not, we are prepared to "take the hit" for the greater good. I think that we will all take the ultimate hit if we're not willing to embrace digital technology for the AM band.
Early last month, agents from the Denver FCC field office paid a visit to "KBFR" (95.3) in Boulder and shut the station down. That was the third time they have shut the station down in four years. My guess is that they'll be back.
What Runs Downhill
Of course we are fighting it. The whole issue stems from a water fight between Denver and Thornton, and like most water issues along the Front Range, it's complicated. This will be a years-long process and it may not happen at all. Still, we are in the fight early on, protecting our interests as best we can. Stay tuned.
Garage Doors and the Military
According to the FCC, "In response to the increased needs of homeland security, the Department of Defense now must make more use of these frequencies to deploy new mobile radio systems on and around certain military bases." You can read the full text of the Notice at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-424A1.doc.
I live within a couple of miles of an Air Force base, and so far, so good.
If you have news you would like to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SBE To Offer Specialist Certification
To establish a benchmark of individual strengths, the Certification Committee created the concept of Specialist Certifications.
The SBE Program of Certification designed the AM Directional Specialist Certification to help evaluate an individual's ability to perform the necessary tasks to keep facilities operating properly. AM radio stations can operate as non-directional with a single tower or directional using more than one tower. While both require knowledge and skill to maintain in proper working order, the directional antenna system involves a higher degree of skill and understanding of RF theory.
The exam will cover the operation, maintenance and repair of a directional antenna system, tasks common to the station engineer charged with maintaining these systems. The exam will also gauge a person's knowledge of AM radiators, understanding of the principles of phase addition and cancellation, familiarity with the various components used in a directional antenna system, and ability to correctly make necessary measurements and take proper procedures to make repairs and adjustments to the system. In addition, the exam will cover the FCC rules concerning directional operation, test equipment and safety procedures. The AM Directional Specialist exam will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions.
The SBE will offer the AM Directional Specialist exam at NAB2005. An application is available on the SBE website or through the National Office.
The AM Directional Specialist Certification was developed by a subcommittee of the National Certification Committee. Larry Wilkins, CPBE, CBNT, led this effort. You can read more about the first Specialist Certification in the February 2005 issue of The SBE Signal.
Travels with Fred - "I read your mail"
From Fred Baumgartner
If you look closely, you will see that the computer has a sticker that says "I Read Your Mail." This is somewhere between gate A-infinity and B-infinity at Sky Harbor Phoenix.
Now, many of you know that at one time or another, way before it was a bad thing, I might have practiced the white arts of hacking. Pretty unsophisticated stuff, and I do think I should be revered, as I seem to remember things about those days that others don't seem to. In any case, a white side hacker lived by the rule, "enter, look, and leave nothing behind." We thought the 300 Baud modem on the TI-99 or Comodore Vic-20 were a hacker's dream.
This guy, on the other hand, has a Wi-Fi card sticking out, and, well, you can figure out what the sniffers and cracking tools look like from there. I always carry a short wave radio on the road, a little Grundig PE-100 (we've recommend this before as the ultimate bicycle, camping, and traveling radio). So far, only one seems to have disappeared in the TSA process. While they are $30, they look more like $5... theft resistant I'd say. Anyway, some hotels are what they tell me BPL could be like... Nothing but noise from DC to at least 30 MHz. So... as much as I like watching gay guys decorate, and Donald Trump fire people on TV, I find that in the hotels just running a sniffer can provide alternative entertainment... gee there is a lot of interesting traffic in a hotel. Actually, there is a practical purpose for the sniffer, and there are a lot of freeware versions floating around. I seem to walk into situations where no one (read that video engineer) has any real handle on what IP addresses are in use. Pretty much plugged the gear in, and if something didn't work, changed an address or two till things worked out. With the sniffer, and at most an occasional unplugging and replugging of equipment to get something to disappear and reappear and announce itself, one can figure out most small broadcast networks rather easily... hotels and airports are just practice and entertainment.
The guy in the photo is actually doing a degree in Internet and Network security... he used a lot of acronyms I didn't understand. The laptop sticker is how they recognize each other, just like wearing a Harris hat or an ERI T-shirt tips off other broadcast engineers. A degree in what? But I just learned that my college credits have expired and I couldn't use them toward a degree anymore... well... don't recall working that hard on them anyway.
Now, one more little thing... the Phoenix stopover? The destination was Fresno. United has direct flights, but they cost twice what America West charges to go through Phoenix. Interesting, my partner in this visit lives in Phoenix, however, for him America West's direct flight (that would be the one I was on) costs twice what United's two hop does. Now that is why America is great, and my airline stocks are doing so well. If only we could figure out how to pick up the second leg without the first... any ideas?
Telex Coachcomm Gets Cut From The Nuclear Game
Thanks to Chapter 124 in Portland
The FCC has turned down a request from Telex for a Part 74 waiver to allow the use of their famous headset systems, similar to those in use for NFL, and NCAA football games, at nuclear power plants. This would involve the use of over the air broadcast channels. In spite of the fact that Telex had been operating many systems under an STA, and most nuclear power plants are better shielded than the Memorial Coliseum Exhibit Hall, the Commission would not make the use permanent. Glad they finally stuck up for our broadcast spectrum, and was not able to see any broadcast use for the internal communications. Guess they never saw "The China Syndrome."
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
o Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) reports that an Industry Canada (IC) analysis has found "overwhelming agreement" that Canada should move away from retaining a Morse code requirement as "the sole means of gaining access" to the HF amateur bands. "Amateurs should note that while the responses heavily favored deletion of the Morse Qualification as a requirement for access to the HF bands, Industry Canada still has to make and announce a decision on Morse retention or deletion," RAC emphasized. IC reported 123 comments in favor of relaxing the code requirement in Canada and only 19 "clearly opposed." Another six comments were inconclusive.
Here in the US, the FCC has made no recommendation or decision regarding the future of the current 5 WPM (Element 1) Morse requirement for HF access. It's reviewing several petitions, including one from the American Radio Relay League, that propose further amateur radio license restructuring.
o The Borough of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has decided against plans to offer broadband Internet service via broadband over power line (BPL) technology, according to a January 18 report in "Public Opinion." The Cumberland Valley Amateur Radio Club (CVARC) spearheaded ham radio opposition to the plan in the eastern Pennsylvania community of some 17,000 residents through an informational campaign.
The Public Opinion article quoted Chambersburg officials as saying there wasn't enough money in the municipality's Electric Department budget to go forward with a BPL deployment this year. CVARC members were reportedly pleased by the outcome. "That is good news," the article quoted CVARC President David Yoder, KB3HUC, as saying "All amateur radio operators in the area are relieved to learn that apparently our concerns were taken into account." Among other things, CVARC members had told the Borough Council last year that BPL would interfere with amateur radio and its ability to provide emergency communication.
Chambersburg officials had been looking into leasing the borough's power lines to an Internet service provider as a way to generate revenue, and a consultant had recommended Chambersburg look into BPL. o Following up on the introduction last month of two new audio public service announcements promoting Amateur Radio to the general public, the ARRL is now offering video PSAs. The new videos underscore how, in the wake of recent disasters, ham radio operators once again were able to pass emergency messages when other communications systems failed.
These "mini-commercials" for ham radio are already being played on dozens of stations across the country, and the numbers keep growing.
The audio files are available on the ARRL's web site.
30 second PSA: http://www.arrl.org/pio/HAMWORKS30.mp3
60 second PSA: http://www.arrl.org/pio/60HamRadioWorks0105.mp3
(Excerpts from the arrl.org web site)
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
Well folks.... Here we are in Ought-Five.... I recall folks referring to years in the last century like this. This time around "Zero" has become "Oh", so I guess it's "Oh-Five". At any rate here we go again!
I have been trying to keep track of my travel plans for this year and it looks like there will be plenty of it. First trip takes me to the SBE Executive Board meeting at the end of January. This time it will be held in San Antonio, TX. Hopefully we will find some sun...Last year we went to Tucson to find cool, overcast and drizzle!
The AM band continues to change. 1210 is no longer an English speaking station as Bustos Media began what they call 'La GranD' (Pronounced La Grand Dee) on December 12th. I find it interesting that 1210 has gone from talk (business news) back to music. Meanwhile 1090 has gone from music to talk. Speaking of 1090, I still chuckle knowing that Air America's Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh are sharing the same towers over on Maury Island.
In my opinion Broadcasters still don't fully understand some serious issues:
I stopped by a major retailer and a discount warehouse (I will not print the names here, but will tell you if you ask me) the other day asking questions about HDTV and HD Radio. In both cases I told the salesperson that I wanted to see KOMO-DT on Channel 38. The retailer said they had a receiver a while back, but sold it. The discount warehouse told me that they had no receivers and did not plan on offering them!
The retailer had not heard of HD Radio, but the discounter had... and wanted to know more about it. Broadcasters are being attacked from all sides by cable, satellites and all manner of competition for OUR audience... and yet folks that should be selling products that will enable us to keep our jobs know nothing about it! You have heard of the old saying about Nero fiddling while Rome burned. This is very much in the same category. I fail to understand why our industry would rather sit on its hands than get out in the real world and do what it takes to make it easy for consumers to purchase the products that will help insure the success of our industry. Can anyone explain this situation? Good luck finding an HDTV with a built-in ATSC tuner! Grrrrr!
Satellite Radio is certainly on the move. I noted a major electronic retailer is now offering a portable XM Receiver called 'MyFi' and the Sirius 'Sportster'. Toyota has announced that it will offer Sirius and XM radios in 2005 (Not a word about HD Radio) The Sat-Casters are rolling up their sleeves and thinking outside the box; for example, a cellphone with a Satellite radio built in is in the works. With Mel Karmazin now CEO for Sirius his experience with conventional broadcasting, knowing its weaknesses, is going to make Sirius even more of a competitor.
This is not to say that that all this is not being watched carefully. The recent announcement that Fox is going to be joining forces with Clear Channel is seen by many as being a huge alliance. Certainly Fox has come a long way. Here in this market KVI has been plugging their Fox affiliation. It's not known how the Clear Channel stations in this market will deal with this.
AM stations appear to be turning down the treble controls. A process led by Clear Channel appears to be catching on with many stations opting for the reduced audio bandwidth mode. This is all on the basis that today's AM radios don't reproduce anything over 5 kHz anyway.
In the January issue of Consumer Reports is an interesting article on Wall Warts. You know, those power supplies that are used to power almost everything these days. The purpose of the piece is to point out how wasteful the old transformer-based units are compared to switching supplies. Pretty amazing when you add it all up.
Looks like we are going to have a very mild winter. This is bad for skiing, but good for those of us that go up Tiger Mountain. Terry Spring reported that as of mid-December we only have had one snowfall; it was only a few inches.
Nick Winter finally bit the bullet and got a new call sign: K7MO. Having spent 19 years at KMO in Tacoma I have to admit it looks pretty cool. It would be kind of neat if you could have the station you were working at also be your call. But with a 7 in the middle, we are out of luck. Consider K0MO (Oliver Farley in Mo); or K1RO, Mark Wilson; or K1NG, John Olsen in Illinois.
On the FCC scene...
Congratulations to Denny Anderson on his retirement from the Seattle FCC Office.
The Commish has been busy in the world of enforcement. They fined a Taxicab company in Portland $12,000 for operating on frequencies without authorization and for interference with an Amateur Radio Station. Fox has appealed its 1.8 Megabuck indecency fine. An AM station in Gary, Indiana, was asked to pay 16 Grand for various tower violations. A small Virginia Station will pay $1500 for various EAS violations. A $125,000 fine has been proposed against a firm that sells to truckers, for selling higher-powered Amateur Radio equipment for use on CB. An apparent non-commercial station in Ohio may give up $20,000 for running spots for a period of time. And locally, the Pirate that operated on 93.7 is, at this writing, still off the air.
Not often do you see something to do with our biz in the 'Stranger'. In this case it's a story about RFI from the diplexed (1050/1250) AM site at Pigeon Point in West Seattle. According to the piece, there is a petition effort attempting to deal with RFI in telephones and baby monitors. Seems to me that Pigeon Point has been an AM site for many years and that the neighbors would understand by this time.
I 'spose you heard that the military is planning on adding a new 390 MHz radio system at bases around the country. So? Well, it's the same band that's used for most of the garage door openers. With the number of military bases around this area this is going to be fun. Maybe it's time for the audio answer coupler and DTMF decoder on the home phone?
Tom Pierson is 'Fordless' for the first time in recent memory, sporting a Big Nissan pickup.
A helicopter crashed on December first in Texas after striking the TV tower of KXXV-TV. The lights were apparently not working as a result of severe weather a week earlier. The FAA had been notified and they had issued a notice.
On the SBE Scene, Chapter 16's Board is working hard on the matter of our fall show. Look for announcements on this issue to come from Chairman McGinley.
Nothing new to report directly related to the proposal to move that FM station into Covington. However, Clear Channel did pay a huge sum of money in a recent FCC auction for a frequency in the Centralia area. There are those that are suggesting that the reason for this is that this station could impact future improvements to the Covington operation. If this is true, it would suggest that Clear Channel could well be behind the move that will force KMIH to shut down.
Paul Nelson continues to try and figure out how to squeeze in some kind of radio station in Auburn. He is now reportedly trying to get the city to underwrite some of the costs of installing a number of very low powered transmitters, all apparently operating below the FCC's radar. This according to a recent article in the Auburn Reporter.
Dave Casey has left Infinity to join the Neural Audio team in Kirkland. Dave worked with Infinity's 106.1 -HD system which was one of the first stations to run the Neural 5.1 system.
John Morton has retired from the customer service department at Broadcast Electronics in Quincy, Ill.
In a recent survey, Entercom was voted one of the best Radio broadcasters to work for, for the second year in a row.
Remember those proposals that would install transmitters in emergency vehicles to override broadcast stations to augment their sirens and flashing lights? SBE filed comments with the FCC on the matter and now the NAB has joined the fight.
One of the biggest jobs I have had with the SBE has been the crafting of our comments to the recent NPRM regarding EAS. SBE's comments were about 14,000 words and our reply comments were about 10,000. You can read these on the FCC's Website (*see below). Now we wait and see. One aspect of the FCC's proposal called for making Mandatory portions of EAS that are now voluntary. This issue has caused a number of state broadcast associations, including the WSAB, to become suddenly very active in EAS. In the works now is an EAS Summit to be held in
Washington, D.C. to deal with these issues; stay tuned. I will keep you informed.
Software controlled radios are going to be part of the landscape, per recent approval by the FCC. With everything else software controlled, is it any wonder?
And finally....The pioneer pulled the plug. IBM sold the majority of its PC business to a Chinese firm....The end of another era.
That's it for this month... over my limit I think. Have a great New Year.
Clay, CPBE, K7CR
How Is Your Reception?
Why can't I get clear radio reception like my neighbors do? Why do I hear noise in the background when I listen to your station? Can I do anything to improve my reception?
If your radio hisses on stereo but not on mono it could be because it is receiving a weak signal. This happens because radio receivers need a stronger signal to decode the stereo component of a signal than for the mono component. A weak signal can be caused if you are too far from a transmitter, or by large buildings or hills blocking the signal path.
A good quality outdoor antenna, correctly positioned to pick up the best signal will improve reception. If necessary an amplifier can be fitted to the antenna to boost a weak signal.
If the radio is portable with no provision for plugging in an external aerial, listeners should try adjusting the position of the radio's own antenna to improve the reception. Alternatively, moving the radio to somewhere else in the room may help as, particularly FM, reception can vary a great deal over short distances. Radio reception is often better near windows or upstairs rather than downstairs.
Twittering or discordance
Distorted 's' sounds
The best way to minimize multipathing is to use a directional rooftop antenna, which will only pick up signals direct from the transmitter, and reject signals that arrive at the back or side of the antenna. It is also sometimes possible to mount the aerial so that the house screens it from the reflections but not from the wanted signal. If multipathing is effecting a portable radio try moving it to a different position in the room.
* Most radio transmitter networks have been designed to avoid such problems but if you are listening outside the geographical coverage area of the transmitter, or if there are rare atmospheric conditions, you may suffer this interference problem. As with most radio reception problems, a good directional rooftop mounted aerial may solve the problem, providing the interfering transmission is not coming from the same direction as the transmission you want. Some stereo tuners incorporate filters which can block out adjacent channels. If you are located within the main coverage area for the service which is experiencing interference, see Interference Issues. For further information on interference issues, particularly those caused by other broadcasters or utility companies, go to Common Reception Problems at ABC Radio/ABCRadio.com or the Australian Communications Authority (ACA), internet.aca.gov.au. The ACA produces a wide variety of useful fact sheets and brochures including 'Interference from CB and Amateur Transmitters' and offers an interference investigation service.
National Public Radio Used 5.1 For New Year's Eve Broadcast
Chapter 9 - Phoenix
Washington, D.C.-NPR aired its first surround sound broadcast of the New Year's Eve program Toast of the Nation. More than 200 member stations aired the broadcast, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the program, originally begun to showcase NPR's interconnected satellite system. During the broadcast, jazz from New York City, Washington, Boston, Clarksdale, Miss. Denver and Oakland ushered in the New Year in each time zone, all in 5.1 surround sound via the Harris NeuStar 5225 5.1 surround sound mix-edit transcoder and a Harris NeuStar UltraLink digital radio audio conditioner at each venue. Another UltraLink at NPR headquarters fed the satellite uplink. The broadcast started in Paris, which broadcast in stereo. At NPR, they monitored the audio off a Harris DexStar exciter feeding a HD Radio car headunit. Those in the sound room listened to the 5.1 broadcast through a Neural SEEDS decoder connected to the HD Radio receiver. HD Radios from three manufacturers were used in the sound room: Kenwood, JVC and Panasonic. The broadcast began at 5 p.m. and continued live until 3:30 a.m. when the network used rollovers until 6 a.m. on the 1st.
WBGO(FM), Newark, N.J. co-hosted the broadcast with NPR. Gary Walker and Bonnie Grice of WLIU(FM), Southampton, N.Y. were the program hosts. For the surround sound part of the broadcast, four stations - WBGO, WGBH(FM), Boston, KUVO(FM), Denver, and KCSM(FM), San Mateo, Calif. - recorded source programming in 5.1 audio, and transmitted it via bonded ISDN lines to NPR. The feed was then uplinked to the Public Radio Satellite System. npr.org
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Nextel Outlines 2 GHz Transition Plans
By Tom Smith
On January 11th, SBE National Frequency Coordinator David Otey and representatives from Nextel conducted a meeting at WLS-TV in Chicago concerning the 2 GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Systems relocation. This meeting was attended by a number of Chief Engineers, ENG operation personal and local SBE frequency coordinators, including Leonard Charles, Tom Weeden, and Tom Smith from the Madison SBE chapter. The SBE will be working very closely with Nextel during this transition.
In 1997, the FCC reallocated BAS channels 1 and 2 to the Mobile Satellite Service. After a number of attempts, several companies failed to launch satellite phone systems in the band or went bankrupt in the process. Meanwhile, the FCC was looking for other uses for the band, so they could conduct an auction of the spectrum. In 2004, Nextel, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Maximum Service Association of Television Broadcasters submitted a proposal for BAS band relocation. Broadcasters were to be paid for their relocation costs by the MSS providers, but none of them ever came up with a plan or the money. Nextel meanwhile was having interference issues with public safety users who shared the 800 MHz band with them. In part of the band, Nextel and public safety users were interleaved in small adjacent slivers of spectrum. Since the base stations for Nextel were operated as a cellular system, there were many high power transmitters spread around most communities.
In the plan Nextel presented to the FCC, they would give up part of the spectrum they held in the 800 MHz band for public safety use and the FCC would repack the 800 MHz band. The band is divided into identical upper and lower blocks of spectrum with each user getting identical position in each block of the band. Normally the base station would operate in one block of the band and the mobile units in the other block. In the plan proposed by Nextel, the band would be divided into new groupings which the public service users and Nextel would each get one large band of spectrum and one band of spectrum of interleaved spectrum would go to public safety and business users. For the spectrum that Nextel gave up in the 800 MHz band, they requested spectrum in the MSS band at 1910-1915 MHz and at 1990-1995 MHz, for a total of 10 MHz of spectrum. In this plan, Nextel would have a band of frequencies just below the cellular service in the 800 MHz band and a band of frequencies just above the PCS service in the 1.9 GHz band.
As everyone is interested in getting this process underway as soon as possible, the FCC set a deadline for the BAS transition. That deadline is dependent on a decision Nextel has to give the FCC on February 7th. On that date, Nextel must notify the FCC if it accepts the terms of the decision that the FCC has ordered based on the proposal Nextel, the NAB, and the MSTV sent the Commission. If Nextel accepts on February 7th, the transition must be completed in 30 months. Nextel must then deliver a timetable to the FCC by April 6th.
Nextel has already set up a plan for the transition. The transition will be based on Designated Marketing Area's (DMA) with consideration for overlapping markets. No BAS user will have to give up spectrum before relocation. As of the Chicago meeting, Nextel will transition the New York and Los Angeles markets first, followed by the Chicago market. These markets transitions will be followed quickly by several other large markets. They will then start doing the smaller markets, proceeding on a regional basis. They will start with the Northeastern part of the nation followed by the rest of the Eastern Seaboard and then move west with the Northern Plains and the far West going last.
The transition will follow nine steps, starting with a Pre-Market Kick Off which gives an over view of the process. The meeting in Chicago was considered the Pre-Market Kick Off for this area. That will be followed by a Market Kick Off soon after the Nextel decision in the first markets in the transition-about a month after the Pre-market Kick-off in other markets. This meeting gives the timetable and other information concerning the transition in each market. The third step occurs two months later, when stations give Nextel an inventory of equipment to be replaced and prepare for negotiations. Step four is the negotiation period which lasts for a month. Step five is the ordering of equipment which they figure should take two to four weeks. Step six is the delivery of equipment which they expect to take two months. This time is very short considering the amount of microwave equipment to be built in 30 months, but all of the manufacturers are aware of the situation and Nextel is working with them.
In the plan, Nextel will pay for transmitters and receivers, control systems, and multiband equipment if you already have it. Many stations have equipment that operates on both the 2 GHz and 7 Ghz bands and they will replace these dual band units if a station is using them. Ancillary equipment such as interference filters and low-noise amplifiers; talent cueing equipment to deal with delays due to digital transmission with the new units; as well as labor and administrative costs due to planning and installation will be paid for.
They will not pay for new receive quad antennas, and omni-directional antennas, nor will they pay for fixed link relocations such as those used for inter-city relays. They will pay for transmitters used for traffic cams. For stations that recently updated to digital radios, they will supply loaners, so their units can be updated. Nextel will pay the suppliers directly for your units, and will pay for tower work and other local labor in advance.
Nextel plans on all the stations to have the equipment installation completed by a certain date and then cutting over to the new band plan on a week-end when there are fewer news feeds. To aid in the cut-over they will be equipping the networks and RF suppliers to the networks with tunable equipment at the beginning of the transition so they can operate in any market no matter what their status is in the transition. At the end of the transition in each market, Nextel will collect and destroy the old equipment. They do not want any of the equipment finding its way back in use and causing problems, and the government needs assurance that the money was spent to replace equipment-and not add to a station's inventory.
Nextel plans on negotiating with group owners for a master agreement for the stations that they own, with the local station only having to deal with their local equipment inventory and payments. Independently owned stations will have negotiate the full agreement.
How does the Madison market fall into the plan? Madison will be an early market to convert to the new band plan as it is included with the Chicago market. There are nine DMA's included with Chicago, including Madison, Milwaukee and Rockford. They did not give the other markets included. Other markets adjacent to Chicago are South Bend-Elkhart, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Peoria, Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Terre Haute and Lafayette, IN. According to the proposed plan that Nextel outlined, they expect the Chicago area including Madison to be converted to the new band plan by this time next year. It will be a busy time for the local stations.
Finally, the personnel from Nextel did not believe that the proposed merger of Sprint and Nextel would affect the transition plan.
PDX Radio Waves
by Michael D. Brown N7AXC CSRE
"Second-Generation" HD Radio is a term we'll be hearing more of in the coming months. (We KNEW, even as the installations were going forward, that this was a work-in-progress, didn't we?) In short, Second Generation is the updated field hardware and software implementation of the "Supplementary Program Services" (i.e.: the 2nd audio channel, dubbed by NPR as "Tomorrow Radio"), multi-channel sound, and a variety of data services. Also, as indicated by Broadcast Electronics VP Neil Glassman "...whether intentional or not, it eliminates the need to have a PC at your transmitter site. The first reference design of the HD Radio signal generator (encoder) runs on a Linux computer. If something happens out at the transmitter site, the computer-based HD Radio signal generator could become a wildcard; minimum risk is a very long reboot time. The second- generation HD Radio architecture puts this computer in the studio, next to all the rest of the mission-critical PCs that you have learned how to effectively coddle. (Also), it allows you to process your audio at the studio. (And) the second-generation architecture eliminates the need for a bidirectional link." Neil went on to say, "Should a station buy a second-generation system now? Of course, no one answer is suitable for this diverse constituency. What questions should a station ask before deciding? The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, cost. What is the difference between purchasing a second-generation system now and upgrading later? Other considerations include what other equipment you may need to modify or purchase in your plant and how quickly you want to implement data services. Stations that have first-generation HD Radio architecture may want to explore upgrade options now to avoid surprises later. See http://www.bdcast.com/pubtech/hdradiogen2/ (as posted on broadcast.net and PubTech).
As written in this space previously, IMHO the 2nd audio channel, much more than the data services, might be the one feature that makes HD radio fly. The NPR and community radio stations are chomping at the bit to get their hands on it, and I'm sure that the commercial broadcasters will have no trouble finding "content" for the channel and sell more ads. The kind of narrowcasting currently reserved for satellite and internet radio could spring up on the broadcast bands. All comedy; all indie music; all Belarusian folk music, perhaps?
With the resignation of Michael Powell, what's in store for radio? Not wanting to have a potentially bruising round of confirmation hearings, I suspect that Bush may bypass this by choosing a new chairperson from within the existing Commission, which probably means Kevin Martin. While still committed to deregulation, some have noted that Martin seems more informed and nuanced than Powell. How that translates is yet to be seen.
Just in time for New Years, Quantegy, (reported to be) the last remaining manufacturer of professional analog recording tape, and the only recording tape manufacturer in the U.S., closed down its Alabama plant and laid off its employees. Early reports said that they were filing Chapter 11, but ProSoundNews is now reporting that the company has not filed for bankruptcy, and will reopen after restructuring. Meanwhile, however, some users of tape are in a panic. The Society of Professional Audio Recording Services (SPARS) is working with the company to do custom runs of various lines such as GP9, 456, and 499. To participate in the SPARS order, call 800-752-0732 and reference SPARS. (thanks to ProSoundNews) Meanwhile, hold on to those old pancakes of 456. They may have just doubled in value.
The End User
Happy New Year!
This month's original column has been deferred to next month. And why is that? Because of last month's announcement by IBM that they are selling their PC business to the China-based Lenovo Group. For some reason that announcement hit me hard. Because to me… it's an end of an era.
Yes, Lenovo agreed to continue manufacturing IBM PCs to IBM standards for at least five years. Yes, IBM will still market and support the PCs-at least for the short term. But it's still the end of an era. An era that IBM started twenty-three years ago- almost by accident.
So let's take a look at some of the things that could have happened if IBM didn't get into the PC business.
There'd be no Compaq.
No Gateway 2000.
No PS/2 ports on your computer (that too was an IBM invention).
No TrackPoint (that cute laptop eraser-head mouse that's become both ubiquitous and a center of debate-do you like the eraser-head or finger-pad better?).
Microsoft probably wouldn't be the empire it is today had there been no IBM PC.
And Apple? They probably would have a much bigger share of the marketplace.
So as we toast a new year-raise a glass to IBM. And thank Big Blue for what one of its inventions did for the common man.
In February, we'll take a look back at tech in 2004, and a look ahead to the New Year. And the column certainly won't be centered on new product releases.
The YXZ Report
by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
LAST MONTH'S MEETINGS
THE SCARY WORLD OF COGNITIVE RADIOS
Think this will only affect a few frequencies? Just check out this quote from http://www.commsdesign.com/news/tech_beat/www.eet.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=18700443
In particular, the FCC is looking at a means by which the 6-MHz-wide licensed spectrum in the UHF band, currently assigned to TV broadcasters, can be reused in secondary markets as a path to last-mile data access (see story, opposite page). This proposal would set power levels up to 8 dB higher than those currently allowed in those bands, thereby greatly increasing range and coverage area. In addition, said Schiffer, the propagation characteristics at the lower UHF frequencies are particularly attractive, offering the possibility of longer distance and lower power.
'Still, you have to operate in 6-MHz channels, so you won't get the 54 Mbits/ second you get with .11g or a [Wi-Fi],' he said. Nonetheless, Schiffer says, data rates 'will be respectable,' especially in rural areas where channels can be concatenated.
But the FCC's interest also extends to higher frequencies. 'If you look at the entire RF frequency up to 100 GHz, and take a snapshot at any given time, you'll see that only 5 to 10 percent of it is being used,' said Ed Thomas, chief engineer at the FCC. 'So, there's 90 GHz of available bandwidth.'"
LIFE WITH HD RADIO (FM AT LEAST)
As I write this e-mail version of the newsletter, there are now six FM HD signals on in the Portland market. Entercom's 99.5 KWJJ HD got their STA and signed-on permanently, 105.1 KRSK (Skyline panel) went on Friday February 4th, and 94.7 KNRK (high-level combined into their one-bay on top of the Stonehenge Tower) should be on in February.
CALL FOR NAB ENGINEERING HANDBOOK AUTHORS
(From Lynn D. Claudy, Senior Vice President, NAB Science and Technology. Thanks, Bill Johnstone)
"NAB is pleased to announce that the much-anticipated 10th Edition of the NAB Engineering Handbook is currently in-progress, with Ed Williams as Editor-in-Chief.
NAB strives to ensure the integrity and excellence of its publications, recruiting foremost industry leaders of their fields. If you have relevant knowledge and experience that you are willing to share, NAB is offering an opportunity for you to participate in this premiere publication as a contributing author. As an author, you will not only be part of the most respected industry engineering volume, but your contribution will be individually acknowledged in the book and supporting promotions.
If you are interested in this exciting opportunity or have questions, contact Ed Williams at (handbookeditor at nab.org). Please respond by Tuesday, February 15, 2005 and let us know the topic or subject area that you would be interested in contributing. Please review the Table of Contents of the current 9th Edition for information but many changes and additions are planned for the 10th Edition and proposals for all relevant contributions are welcome."
Radio Was Invented About The Same Time As Fire
Radio was invented about the same time as fire. In fact, the spark transmitters were simply an attempt at making an electric fireplace, with unexpected consequences. Hackers, in those days called renaissance men, learned to make detectors that could find the electric fires and it being a simpler time and all, maybe a cup of coffee and camaraderie.
Electric fires made poor smoke signals, but the same idea was used to send coded on-off messages for several meters and sometimes miles. In time, radio waves went farther than one could yell. The more alone a person was, in particular on a boat adrift in the giant sea, the more important radio was. However on-off wasn't very entertaining and wouldn't be until much later when "1" and "0" were assigned to the two states. In fact, radio was so boring that most radio operators went to bed at 10 PM, which explains the whole Titanic thing where only young David Sarnoff knew of the ship's peril.
A hobby magazine for renaissance people published an article about making a flame speak. Modulating the electric fire proved more entertaining than on-off, and soon more people were talking too much and using all of the spectrum at once. So the government stepped in and made people use just a slice of the spectrum, and not all of the time.
In time, the electric fire was bottled into glass "tubes." More like embers, a real transmitter's tubes glowed red. As the voice got louder, the red got brighter. Eventually, the fire would be traded for something like cold-fusion and placed in small metal cans where no one could see the magic.
Early radio made noise by controlling the size of the fire. This was noisy because it was indistinguishable from lightning, which is really big electrical fire if you know what I mean. Receivers couldn't tell the difference between God's noise, and man-made noise, so AM was replaced by FM, and whack job conservative talk shows were sent to fill the AM band, which means "Ancient Modulation." FM, which stands for "Fine Music" or "Freaking Magic" made the fire wiggle and change color. Since lightning only comes in white, receivers could tell the difference by filtering out all white electrical firelight.
Howard Armstrong figured most of this out, and spent the rest of his life in court being tortured by lawyers.
At the same time, for some reason, FM got rid of the problem of AM going too far at night. Even now, the problem with AM going to far is not entirely solved, though the same people who brought us "ones" and "zeros" are working on it.
From the beginning, a lot of people thought that fire should belong to everyone; hard to make a buck off of that idea. Companies discovered that you could make people buy stuff they didn't need or want with radio, and the government discovered that they could make money on that concept through a thing called economic growth, or non-sustainable growth.
Over time, it became obvious that there was a formula for success. Very few people should own the radio, the people who run radio stations should be proven sales people first and view the world as something to hawk, and only a few programs should be sent to all the stations. Wiping out community stations, and forcing stations to run porn improved the government's take.
There is so much money in radio that most stations value is around 2% for the equipment, and buildings, and 98% what used to be called "good will." We now call it "debt service." To help the radio owner even more, the government isn't looking at many of the technical violations, so the cost of equipment can be reduced by half in many cases.
Every now and then, someone in the Senate wonders what it would be like if radio wasn't owned all by one guy and how a permit to use a public resource can be owned by someone who paid millions for it to a guy who didn't pay anything a few years before; but then they think about it and say, "if they are going to pay that much for a radio station, let them keep it! What are they nuts?" Since radio has no expenses to speak of compared to revenue, they tax pretty good, and if they lift the taxes a little, the politicians can get help being elected. This is the circle of political life.
Once the fire was in those metal cans, someone noticed that electric fire no longer illuminated, and we're not just thinking about sports talk here. So radio with a light was invented. This used one of those glass tubes, but was pointed right at the audience's brain so that the need to buy useless and silly things was implanted directly and without thought.
Now, with TV we ran out of spectrum. Some enterprising cowboys got tired of the government taking all the action, so they ran wires with their own little broadcast universe contained inside. For a while, the new spectrum they made didn't bother anyone; but now it bothers everyone, just in different ways. Still, most people will give up their phone before their cable TV. The theory is that since this is private spectrum, people should pay for this, as some of the channels don't make you want to buy things. It's really cheaper in the long run than watching over the air TV and buying everything in sight, and there aren't as many chia-pets to dispose of anymore in our landfills.
Some other guys put their transmitters 23,000 miles overhead, outside of the 12-mile territorial/international boundary… or so they thought. Some even made their satellites move in huge arcing orbits, and turn them on and off, but the government found them anyway, and forced them to carry Howard Stern and other problems. Now they have to compete with all the other radio people.
Radio, with and without the light, found that doing news was good for the pocket book. The idea isn't to accurately report the story, or in anyway indicate that there may be more to an issue, but to get the story into a few seconds in such a way that it entertains and shocks the audience, and still leaves 30 minutes for commercials in each hour. Now everyone does lots and lots of news very cheaply. Radio is neither conservative (except for those guys on that AM band that no one listens to anymore) nor liberal. In fact, National Public Radio and PBS, are often thought of as liberal; but they are just smart and don't have time constraints, which sometimes looks like liberal. Neither smart, liberal, nor pop music from the 18th century sell well in America, so they get government subsidies and are forced to operate just above channel 6 TV.
Everyone discovered that having a script and preparing for a show was expensive, so first radio stopped, then TV. TV shows are usually about rebuilding houses, cooking, looking at the weather radar, or following celebrities around with hidden cameras. It was a surprise to find out that for Americans, less content is actually more. Research is proceeding to find yet cheaper and less challenging program ideas.
There is also Internet radio, which requires that you be at work with a high-speed connection to listen to, and international short wave broadcasting, which isn't popular because it is either competing religions or stuff about the bigger world, which Americans could care less about. In any case, since no one listens to this, the government gave their frequencies away to the power companies so they can send your bill directly to your computer.
Radio is also used to contact other worlds. Unfortunately, they have all gone digital, and we don't have their coding rates, spreading factors, display formats, or access control tables, so we hear them all the time, we're just not authorized for their services.
And that is the story of radio.
HOLLYWOOD SQUARES !!
If you remember The Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this will bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when game show responses were spontaneous and clever, not scripted and (often) dull as they are now. Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.
Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be?
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.
Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.
Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.
Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?
A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army.
Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.
Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?
Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
A. Charley Weaver: His feet
Local RF Radiation Proofing Business Triggers Chinese Spider-Bot. (A well known local engineer has provided the chapter 48 newsletter some rather interesting and or entertaining "stuff" in the past… but still refuses to be identified)
I'm sure that many of you are wondering about my attempt to start up a business protecting the residents of Lookout Mountain from RF exposure, converting their homes into Faraday Cages (see previous editions of the Chapter 48 newsletter). Many of you have noticed that I haven't bought a new car or airplane recently.
I set up email addy email@example.com to receive what I was sure would be a onslaught of requests for professional services. With all the emotional testimony about how the RF levels up there was killing their children, I just assumed that if they wouldn't move to save their lives, they might at least mitigate the danger, and well… I figured I might be able to make a few bucks off the hysteria.
I am sorry to report that so far, the only responses I have received are from the usual male enhancement, hair replacement, get a date… etcetera spam blasters; same kind of folks who advertise on the Science Channel (why is that?).
There was one rather interesting response. I believe a Chinese Web Spider-Bot found the Chapter 48 newsletter and determined that there was an opportunity to sell copper foil.
I've attached the text below…
I find this absolutely amazing… someone a world away wants to sell me materials for my RF Extermination business… Imagine the sophistication of the Spider-Bot that located this opportunity. Consider the implications. I'm not making this up.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Our company specializes in exporting copper foil for many years and has rich experience in this line. Our factory is located in the west part of China, and professionally produces 9-micron, 10-micron, 12-micron, 18-micron, 35-micron, 70 micron and 105micron electrodeposited copper foils needed by electronic industries (PCB, CCL, Lithium Battery and Polymer Lithium Battery. Meanwhile, we also supply RA (rolled annealed) and HTE copper foil of various specifications. The purity of Cu is above 99.8%. In addition, we can supply products according to your specific requirements.
High quality product and service with competitive price is our principle. If you are interested, please contact us or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, we will recommend our website to you; if not, we will remove your address from the list.
We are looking forward to serving your needs and contributing to your company success.
Top Morons of 2004
WILL THE REAL DUMMY PLEASE STAND UP?
AT&T fired President John Walter after nine months, saying he lacked intellectual leadership. He received a $26 million severance package. Perhaps it's not Walter who's lacking intelligence.
WHAT WAS PLAN B???
An Illinois man, pretending to have a gun, kidnapped a motorist and forced him to drive to two different automated teller machines, wherein the kidnapper proceeded to withdraw money from his own bank accounts.
A man walked into a Topeka, Kansas Kwik Stop and asked for all the money in the cash drawer. Apparently, the take was too small, so he tied up the store clerk and worked the counter himself for three hours until police showed up and grabbed him.
DID I SAY THAT???
Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words: "Give me all your money or I'll shoot", the man shouted, "That's not what I said!".
ARE WE COMMUNICATING???
A man spoke frantically into the phone: "My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart". "Is this her first child?" the doctor asked. "No!" the man shouted, "This is her husband!"
NOT THE SHARPEST TOOL IN THE SHED!
In Modesto, CA, Steven Richard King was arrested for trying to hold up a Bank of America branch without a weapon. King used a thumb and a finger to simulate a gun... Unfortunately, he failed to keep his hand in his pocket.
THE GRAND FINALE!!!
Last summer, on Lake Isabella, located in the high desert, an hour east of Bakersfield, CA, some folks, new to boating, were having a problem. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get their brand new 22 foot boat, going. It was very sluggish in almost every maneuver, no matter how much power they applied. After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted into a nearby marina, thinking someone there may be able to tell them what was wrong. A thorough topside check revealed everything in perfect working condition. The engine ran fine, the out-drive went up and down, and the propeller was the correct size and pitch. So, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath. He came up choking on water, he was laughing so hard.
Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer!
Garneth M. Harris
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Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Societies, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE and SMPTE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE or SMPTE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.