LTE Broadcast SFN Test Achieves Milestone with Transmitter, Antenna Deployment

MUNICH, GERMANY—High-power, high-tower broadcasting to mobile phones and tablets via wireless networks has gotten one step closer with the deployment of an LTE Broadcast single frequency network in Germany.

Transmitter and RF specialist Rohde & Schwarz and antenna manufacturer Kathrein have teamed up on the deployment to deliver media and other data to mobile and portable receivers in Munich and on major traffic arteries between Munich and Salzburg. The deployment is part of the 5G TODAY research project.

LTE Broadcast, also known as Further-evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (FeMBMS), defines options for transmitting to LTE-enabled mobile equipment, including smartphones and media tablets. The standard, specified in 3GPP Release 14 in June 2017, makes it possible for the first time for LTE to enable high-power, high-tower applications in downlink-only mode while using full signal bandwidth for multicast/broadcast applications, said Rohde & Schwarz.

The release also defines a guard interval and modes to allow operation without SIM cards, a requirement for broadcast operation.

Rohde & Schwarz and Kathrein achieved a milestone Dec. 4 when an R&S THU9evo high-power transmitter (5 kW with a 100 kW ERP) went into operation at Bayerischer Rundfunk’s (BR’s) Wendelstein transmitter site. On the same day, Kathrein finished an antenna deployment for testing at BR’s transmitter site in Ismaning near Munich.

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The Rohde & Schwarz FeMBMS solution supports broadcast applications for video and IP data in high-power, high-tower topologies with bandwidths of 5 MHz and 10 MHz. The transmitter receives the reference and configuration data via 3GPP-conform protocols from an LTE EPC (Evolved Packet Core), said Rohde & Schwarz.

For the research project, the Rohde & Schwarz broadcast service control center (BSCC) provides all needed EPC functions. BR delivers broadcast services to the BSCC via an R&S AVHE100 headend, the company said.

Kathrein’s specially designed antenna in Ismaning supports transmission of diversity signals with 12 innovative UHF antenna fields installed at a height of 656 feet. It also included a 1,214-foot-long HF transmission cable as thick as a human arm. Plans call for a second R&S high-power transmitter (7 kW) to be connected to the antenna by the end of January 2019, making the SFN ready for testing and signal measurement.

5G TODAY is a Bavarian research project that is part of a European 5G field trial being set up in Germany. The Bavarian Research Foundation is funding the project. Kathrein and Rohde & Schwarz, under the leadership of the Institute for Broadcast Technology, are investigating large-scale TV broadcast in FeMBMS mode via 5G broadcast networks. Telefonica Germany and Bavarian state broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk are supporting the project.

(Editor’s note: In the United States, a high TV tower could be 2,000 feet. High-power can mean 1000 kW ERP.) 

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.