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FCC Text of SHVERA NOI, NPRM Released

The FCC has released the text of its Notice of Inquiry for Determining Eligibility for Satellite-Delivered Network Signals Pursuant To the SHVERA Act . The NOI provides more detailed explanations about the issues outlined in the FCC news release I described in last week's RF Report.

In the NOI, the FCC refers to the antenna gains used to determine DTV service area and asks, "if the inherent assumptions regarding DTV antenna receiving systems should be modified or extended insofar as they relate to the proper determination of whether households are unserved by adequate broadcast DTV network signals and are thus eligible to receive distant DTV network signals from a satellite service provider." The FCC is looking for detailed information about the types of antennas currently use or soon to be available, including size, gain and beamwidth specifications. Commenting parties are also asked to provide information on how these specifications affect antenna cost and deployment and if a devices are used to aim the antenna, the cost and availability of the these devices. While this would typically be a rotor, at least one antenna is available that uses the EIA/CEA-909 interface to automatically adjust the antenna pattern.

Current FCC rules require signal strength measurements made using the station's visual carrier and a measuring instrument with an IF bandwidth of at least 200 KHz but no more than 1,000 KHz. The NOI asks how the instrument should be tuned for measuring a DTV signal - to the pilot carrier or the center of the channel? What IF bandwidth is appropriate? Should an indoor measurement be used in evaluating service? If so, what criteria would determine if an indoor or outdoor measurement was performed at a specific location? Opinions are not sufficient. The NOI says commenting parties should provide specific technical justification for any aspects that they believe should be modified.

In evaluating methods for predicting DTV service at a location, the NOI describes the unique characteristics of the modified Longley-Rice method used to determine analog service. I described these in last week's RF Report, but did not mention that when predicting whether a location has service from a TV station, if the building is single story a receive antenna height of 20 feet is used instead of the 30 foot antenna height specified for OET-69 coverage studies.

Last week I mentioned the NOI questioned the performance of current DTV receivers and asked whether this required using a different signal strength to determine whether a location had DTV service for purposes of SHVERA. The NOI said that FCC plans to conduct measurements on a variety of digital TV sets and factor the results of these measurements into its report to Congress. The FCC advised commenting parties who propose performance specifications be taken into account when determining if a house is unserved by an adequate DTV signal that they should provide "detailed information regarding how these factors could be used and applied to individual situations."

The NOI for Determining Eligibility For Satellite-Delivered Network Signals Pursuant To the SHVERA Act has additional information on the questions the FCC is considering in drafting DTV SHVERA rules. The NOI is an easy read and only 12 pages long.

Last week the FCC also issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). The NPRM proposes rules to meet the SHVERA requirement that DBS providers with more than 5,000,000 subscribers carry both the analog and digital signals of TV broadcast stations in local markets in noncontiguous states, including Alaska and Hawaii. The deadline for satellite carriers to provide these signal to substantially all their subscribers in each station's local market is Dec. 8, 2005 for analog signals and June 8, 2007 for digital signals.

The NPRM outlines some of the problems satellite providers are faced with providing service to parts of Alaska, isolated U.S. territories and possessions in the Pacific and Caribbean. It also interprets the SHVERA amendment to mean satellite carriers must carry call multicast signals of each station in noncontiguous states and carry the high definition digital signals of these stations in high definition format. The FCC sought comment on this interpretation.

See the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for more information.