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Outside antennas are in! Dear Editor, As a residential and commercial TV antenna system installer, I have a lot of experience with what it takes to receive
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Outside antennas are in! Dear Editor, As a residential and commercial TV antenna system installer, I have a lot of experience with what it takes to receive over the air broadcasts. Since 1991, I have installed antenna systems here in central Indiana in both rugged and flat, open terrain areas.

I have also conducted and recorded over 500 signal strength measurements from my customers' antenna systems. I was also the only one authorized to conduct signal strength measurements from 1996 to 2000 for the major network TV affiliates in Indianapolis for the Satellite Home Viewer Act.

What I have found in our NTSC measurements is that very few of our customers have a problem with ghosting. Many of our customers also live in metropolitan areas, where tall buildings and other obstacles are in the path of the broadcast towers. The main secret for good TV reception, whether it be NTSC or 8VSB, is a good TV antenna system.

In very weak signal areas, DTV reception is often better than NTSC. This largely depends on what DTV channel is being received, with the VHF and lower UHF DTV channels being much easier to receive in rugged terrain areas than the upper UHF channels. This is true even when the stations' ERP are near the same levels.

For many of our customers, the current 8VSB broadcasts enable them to view broadcasts that used to be too snowy to watch. By going to a COFDM system, many people in the outlying areas of the U.S. would no longer be able to watch TV due to COFDM's demand for much higher ERP levels to match the existing NTSC coverage area.

These areas are where the focus should be with respect to the DTV reception of the future. Sure, there are more people living within the Grade A contours than there are outside them. But most viewers in a Grade A area already enjoy good NTSC reception and should continue to into the future, mainly because of their short distance to the broadcast towers. And most of these people will not have a problem with ghosting. It's a very small percentage amount of people in the U.S. that will ever have a problem with ghosting when compared to the people who have problems with weak signal strength, resulting in bad or no reception at all.

TV broadcasters should do what they already do best, provide TV broadcasting to the public and leave the datacasting business to the cellular, PCS and paging companies who are already doing it and whose communications infrastructure is more suited for this kind of use. Ben C. Stallions Stallions Satellite and Antenna Martinsville, IN http://www.tvantenna.com

Car 54 where are you? Unfortunately, a number of important issues continue to be neglected in the on-going (and never-ending) DTV spectrum/standards debate. TV broadcasters tend to paint the FCC's desire to recover spectrum as one based strictly on the monetary interest to the government. This cannot be farther from the truth.

Most important is the fact that Congress/FCC reallocated 24MHz of the channel 60-69 spectrum to the U.S. public safety community (specifically, channels 63, 64, 68 and 69).These services, including police, fire and EMS, are starved for two-way communications spectrum in all major metropolitan areas and that starvation can result in loss of life or property.

Public safety cannot effectively begin to use this vitally needed spectrum until the channel 60-69 broadcasters vacate these frequencies. Thus, it is very important in these debates to measure the serious costs of any delay to the current reduced and inhibited public safety communications throughout the U.S.

The posturing about the FCC taking back the new spectrum given to the broadcasters should immediately be separated into two distinct spectral considerations: (1) channels 60-69 and (2) channels 2-59. Congress, the FCC and the broadcasters should immediately agree that the 2006 vacating deadline will apply to the channel 60-69 spectrum (no 85 percent rule). This will set in motion the critical public safety product and systems development activities, as well as allowing spectrum auction participants in the remaining 36MHz to launch their business plans.

This action will also remove 95 percent of the political heat that is causing the DTV standards issues to be mixed up and confused with the spectrum recovery issues. The FCC's plans for future recovery of channels 50-59 can easily remain subservient to the DTV standards resolution and the 85 percent rule can be debated within strict analog-vs. digital television broadcast context. Ross Ruthenberg Wood Dale, IL