10.18.2004 11:34 AM
Harris sees expansion in transmission business


The DiamondCD DTV transmitter from Harris is enjoying solid demand from stations making the digital transition.

According to Harris, the opportunity for terrestrial services, both in the United States and overseas, is large and now coming to fruition in a number of new and alternative ways.

This includes the fledgling USDTV - an over-the-air digital subscription cable channel service, which now boasts more than 10,000 subscribers — and the emerging DVB-H transmission spec that will allow worldwide delivery of audio and video to a variety of handheld and mobile devices.

A vigorous interest in high-definition digital radio is also cause for enthusiasm at Harris, according to Jeremy Wensinger, president of the Broadcast Communications Division (BCD). He said he’s identified a number of areas where the company’s hardware business -- radio and TV transmitters and related encoding equipment -- is ideally suited and poised for growth.

Supporting Harris’ recent announcement that it had agreed to buy automation software provider Encoda Systems for $340 million, Wensinger said he has visited a number of the facilities in the United States operated by Encoda and will soon travel to Europe. The reaction from Encoda employees to the acquisition has been positive. [Former Encoda CEO John Sorenson will now run the business for Harris. Don Doctor, former chairman of Encoda Systems, will remain as a consultant through the end of the year.]

Wensinger said the Encoda deal reinforces Harris' goal to become a much broader participant with its customers as stations go through the digital conversion.

At Harris, transmission products for radio and DTV now comprise a major part of the BCD’s investment dollars and that the amount of R&D capital, which he declined to specify, has been increased for this fiscal year. Harris employs more than 10,000 employees worldwide, including 5000 engineers and scientists.

Harris is enjoying solid demand for its traditional TV transmitters as well, he said, both analog and digital. Company resources are being positioned to accommodate the anticipated demand.

Wensinger said he’s “pleasantly surprised” that Harris is still filling orders for analog transmitters (such as the Atlas Analogue Series UHF system), but the company’s clear focus is on digital systems, such as its DiamondCD UHF and PlatinumCD VHF DTV transmitters.

Hoping to stimulate new high-power transmission systems sales, Wensinger said he would love to see some definitiveness come out of the government in regards to the transition (e.g., mandated power levels), but, at Harris, “the digital conversion is happening and is keeping us busy.”

In the meantime, Wensinger is endeavoring to find new applications around the world for terrestrial transmission equipment, like digital radio, DVB-H and even video-on-demand. He’s encouraged, he said, because at the core of all of these new services could be a Harris transmitter.

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