Transmission and power amplification for mobile TV networks: It's a big deal

When it comes to "hot" mobile TV products on the show floor this year, the focus seems to be mostly on exciters and multiplexers. This makes sense, since many broadcasters already have the transmission infrastructure in place to run a mobile TV service: They just need to integrate mobile TV-compatible exciters and multiplexers into their transmission networks in order to get services up and running.

Still, I'd feel remiss if I did not mention how some of the transmitter, antenna and power amplifier manufacturers are playing a role in mobile TV deployment. Thus far, I've met with a few companies in each of these spaces at NAB, and all have something to offer with regards to mobile TV.

Axcera this week introduced its new 8XC Series multimedia transmitter, which can operate with almost any current mobile TV standard, including DVB-H, DVB-SH, CMMB, DAB/T-DMB, and MediaFLO, among others. The transmitters are available from 200W to greater than 1kW average power and can work in the VHF, UHF, L-Band and S-Band. The 8XC Series is available for both indoor and outdoor applications, which makes it especially attractive for mobile multimedia applications. The company also has plans to develop transmitters, gap-fillers and other products compatible with the yet-to-be determined ATSC digital mobile TV standard.

David Neff, president of Axcera, told me he sees a great opportunity for U.S. broadcasters in the potential ATSC standard. "From a business model standpoint, it presents an interesting opportunity for domestic broadcasters, because it can add much-needed new revenue, especially if the model is ad-based," he said. He said his company is "particularly bullish" on ad-supported mobile TV because it would likely be the best way to gain the critical mass viewership needed to make such a deployment a commercial success.

Over in the antenna world, Dielectric this week launched two panel antennas designed for mobile media transmission. The DeltaVee UHF panel antenna is a vertically polarized antenna meant to complement a broadcaster's existing horizontally polarized DTV systems. It features power handling with broadband operation from 470 MHz to 698 MHz and typical VSWR of less than 1:1:1. Meanwhile, the new TUM panel is a high-powered broadband antenna with a variable polarization ratio. It provides 200MHZ bandwidth, with a VSWR less than 1:1:1.

Empower RF Systems, which makes power amplifiers, showcased its OFDM RF power amplifier at the show this year. The model is designed for hybrid AM/FM/digital broadcast for stations up to 25 kW and able to accommodate any combination of WiMAX, IPTV and MediaFLO signals in one amplifier.

Jon Jacocks, vice president of sales for Empower RF, told me power amplifiers are an important, but sometimes overlooked element in a broadcast network infrastructure. "This is especially true when it comes to mobile video," he said, because of the large amount of data comprising video signals. If you are a broadcaster looking to deploy broadcast mobile TV, it would be a good idea to ensure you have enough power amplifiers to accommodate the kinds of power requirements your particular operation would require.