Sinclair Tests ATSC 3.0 With Exact DTV Exciters

BALTIMORE—As ATSC 3.0 approaches maturity, broadcasters need to begin market trials and field tests to ensure they can meet the demands of this future broadcast standard. Sinclair obtained a Special Temporary Authorization (STA) from the FCC so Acrodyne Services could test ATSC 3.0 24/7.

In our Washington-Baltimore SFN/ATSC 3.0 trial we used two transmitters, both broadcasting on RF channel 43 (644-650 MHz). SFN provides more uniform signal level (including in-building penetration) throughout our service area, while increasing user experience, especially with mobile and personal device receivers.

Exact’s DTV Exciter is being used to test ATSC 3.0 in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area.ATSC 3.0-COMPATIBLE
From an infrastructure standpoint, transmitters and DTV exciters must be compatible with ATSC 3.0. Exact Exciters from Hitachi Kokusai Electric Comark LLC are currently available for ATSC 1.0, but can also be upgraded with new firmware/software to support ATSC 3.0. That’s what we did for this market trial.

Exact-ATSC exciters were used in both the existing Acrodyne 60kW 2x IOT Quantum transmitter installed in Baltimore and in a GatesAir Maxiva solid-state transmitter just outside Washington. Installation of the Exact exciter in each transmitter was straightforward in part due to the user GUI and Digital Adaptive Precorrection (DAP) capabilities. The Exact includes an optional transport stream over IP (TSoIP) with Gigabit Ethernet, flowing nicely into ATSC 3.0, which has been developed on IP core network technologies.

Beyond ATSC 3.0, Sinclair has existing ATSC 1.0 transmitters that needed an upgrade with new DTV exciters with improved RF performance. So, prior to the SFN testing, we reviewed and tested digital exciter platforms from several vendors. The Exact from Comark performed very well in the lab and field and the user interface was straightforward to use. The easy upgrade from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0 made the Exact an easy choice for our organization.

Exact-ATSC exciters include a built-in web server with GUI for local and remote monitoring and control. All pertinent information is displayed in a user-friendly and very intuitive layout. The result of this GUI is the Exact exciter can be set up quickly with dedicated menus for operation and control.

While the SFN/ATSC 3.0 trial is now underway, it’s just the start of even more comprehensive and thorough testing of the capabilities of the new standard. We would like to acknowledge American Tower, Dielectric, GatesAir, Comark and TeamCast for their commitment and contributions to the success of this very important field trial.

Andy Whiteside is the general manager of Acrodyne Services. He can be contacted at 410-568-1548 or

For more information, please call 413-998-1100.