The FCC last week clarified some of its rules to ease the transition for television broadcasters who want to migrate to a Next Gen TV (ATSC 3.0) transmission standard, Inside Towers reported. With NextGen TV’s adoption accelerating, Dielectric prepared a transition plan for stations. While Dielectric expects that many broadcasters will have most critical components in place — notably stations that upgraded RF systems during repack — the transition requires a thorough evaluation of RF systems to ensure readiness for all the ATSC 3.0 standard offers.
Dielectric Sales Manager Cory Edwards recalled one of the greatest technical challenges of the DTV transition was establishing proper signal correction within the exciter to meet the “shoulders” of the FCC mask. Transmitter and RF suppliers developed eight-pole filters to help solve the problem, and there are a significant number still in service today. However, the ATSC 3.0 standard is significantly different from ATSC 1.0, and what worked for one standard may not apply to what’s ahead, according to Edwards.
“The eight-pole filter does not allow utilization of the full bandwidth required for NextGen TV services, which includes options for 4K video, mobile device reception and Internet-connected OTT devices,” said Edwards. “There is a tendency to believe that the RF filter and associated components will work just the same for NexGen TV if remaining on the same channel. The reality is that’s not always true.”
Dielectric’s “RF System Considerations for ATSC Change” checklist addresses the two major consequences of transitioning to NextGen TV: The increase in occupied bandwidth, and the increase in peak power. Similar to the bandwidth challenge, older filter designs (including eight-pole models) did not anticipate the higher peak levels of the ATSC 3.0 standard. Transitioning to a modern high-efficiency filter will provide ample peak power headroom to support NextGen TV transmissions, according to the manufacturer.
The checklist for Dielectric customers covers:
- Peak Power Capability of all components, including safety factors for filters and coaxial/waveguide switches
- Bandwidth of Channel Filters
- Removal or Replacement of old RF equipment, along with a cost comparison for upgraded systems
- RF System Service, including sweeps performed by Dielectric engineers to improve overall VSWR performance
- Compatibility of Components, including acceptable filtering levels and presence of appropriate interlock and RF monitoring points
Dielectric offers the whitepaper checklist to any broadcaster. It’s available on the technical resources page of the Dielectric website. The company will also work closely with transmitter suppliers to ensure that broadcasters have all bases covered from the initial planning stage.
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