RF Shorts for Nov. 17, 2014

A review of RF-related news during the past week
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Pete Putman tests the latest indoor TV antennas

Pete Putman, reports on his latest tests on indoor TV antennas in his HDTVExpert.com article Antennas, Antennas, On The Wall…Who Has The Best Reception Of Them All?

He tested the antennas at his upstairs office 20 miles from Roxborough antenna farm in Philadelphia. The tested antennas include the Mohu;s Leaf Metro, Leaf Ultimate (now called the Leaf 50), and Curve 30; Antennas Direct's ClearStream Eclipse, and Winegard's Flatwave Amped. He also tested an RCA ANT1050 and an old $3.99 bow-tie antenna.

The top antennas were the cheap bow-tie, the Mohu Leaf 50, and the Winegard Flatwave Amped. See his article for details on how the other antennas performed.

I've carried a number of flat antennas around the country with me since the first portable USB DTV tuners became available. My Mohu Leaf Ultimate (same as the Leaf 50) is one of my favorites, but on my last two trips I've packed a Winegard Flatwave Amped in my suitcase and found it outperformed the Leaf Ultimate from a third floor hotel room in Rancho Bernardo in picking up terrain blocked signals from San Diego's UHF antenna farm on San Miguel mountain. In New York City I was surprised to find it was able to pick up WLIW, transmitting from Long Island, in Manhattan, even at locations where it was completely shielded by buildings. One of those locations was only a few blocks from the Empire State Building. The major disadvantage of the Flatwave it is too big to fit into my laptop case and, unlike the Mohu Leaf Ultimate, the amplifier can't be removed.


AT&T drops plans for in-flight Wi-Fi service

In my August 29 article AT&T Releases More Details on its In-flight 4G LTE Wireless Proposal I outlined how AT&T planned to use 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz for its in-flight wireless service. Now ITWorld reports AT&T won't do in-flight Wi-Fi after all. Stephen Lawson quotes an AT&T representative saying in a statement that “after a thorough review of our investment portfolio, the company decided to no longer pursue entry into the in-flight connectivity industry. We are focusing our capital on transformative investments, such as our Iusacell and DIRECTV deals.”

Earlier Honeywell Aerospace said it was to be the exclusive hardware provider of domestic air-to-ground communications for the AT&T in-flight service. It will be interesting to see the impact AT&T's decision has on competing in-flight Internet services, including a proposal from Qualcomm to use the 14.0-14.5 GHz satellite uplink band to provide Internet access to aircraft.

NFL and Broadway fight FCC incentive auction

While the FCC is looking for ways to minimize the damage, it seems obvious that the services that have evolved to take advantage of spectrum inefficiencies arising from the need to keep full power TV stations from interfering with each other will suffer the most from the planned repacking after the FCC's incentive auction. These services include TV White Space devices, secondary LPTV and TV translators and low power wireless microphone and cueing systems.

National Public Radio covered the problems the loss of spectrum will cause in its story NFL, Broadway Fight FCC Auction of Broadcast Spectrum. It begins, “Now to a story that pits TV stations, churches, audio engineers and Broadway theaters against the Federal Communications Commission. At issue are the wireless microphones that those diverse entities use and the broadcast frequencies they share—frequencies the FCC wants to sell. Cellular and other wireless data carriers are eager to buy them. The planned sale is being challenged in federal court because, as Rick Karr reports, broadcasters and others are worried that they won't be able to use the little mics that they now depend on.”

One of the points raised in the article is that wireless microphone users had to bear the cost of replacing perfectly functioning wireless microphones using spectrum above channel 51 after the analog shutdown. Now, not that many years later, they will have to bear the cost of replacing wireless microphones they purchased after the analog shutdown to replace them with new microphones that will operate in the limited spectrum likely to be available after the repacking. Even though the treasury will be reaping huge amounts of money from auctioning the spectrum now being used for wireless microphones, there is no plan to reimburse the Broadway show producers, churches, TV program producers, and countless other users of wireless microphones in the TV bands.