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RF Shorts - December 23, 2010

New York City's 1 World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower) has steel up to the halfway point: 52 stories. The tower will eventually reach 104 stories, with an antenna spire bringing the total height to 1,776 feet. This will make it the tallest building in the United States. The BBC has excellent video of the construction in the article World Trade Center build at halfway point. In the article, Steve Coleman, spokesman for the Port Authority, said he was hopeful they would finish the building by the end of 2011. Also see the NPR blog 'Freedom Tower' Reaches Halfway Point.

Short of a tower collapse or fire, transmission line burnouts are probably a TV transmitter engineer's worst nightmare. KWCH, the CBS affiliate in Wichita, Kan., has pictures of the burnout on its Website page UPDATE: KWCH and 12.2 technical issues. KWCH Is currently operating at half power, and is also simulcasting its programming on its sister station, KSCW.

Multichannel News reporter Todd Spangler writes Sezmi Pulls Plug on Cable Networks. As you may recall, Sezmi's service uses a custom set-top box that provided off-air reception of local TV stations and a limited number of encrypted cable services transmitted via local stations using MPEG-4. The article said that "Effective Dec. 28, 2010, Sezmi will no longer offer the Select Plus service, which had included 23 linear cable networks for $19.99 per month. Instead, the company said, it will focus all future U.S. service efforts on the Sezmi Select package, which includes broadcast TV, video-on-demand and Web content for $4.99 per month." A letter from Sezmi's Buno Pali and Phil Wiser on Sezmi's Website says, "With these changes, Sezmi will continue to remain focused on bringing you unprecedented value and personalization for your television experience. We will remain the best TV service and platform that brings the world of live broadcast television together with DVR, Internet and on demand services in a simple and affordable package. And we'll stay true to our vision of delivering a compelling alternative to traditional cable and satellite services."

While neither the article nor the letter mention it, I suspect one reason for the shift is that Sezmi anticipated it would become more difficult to find broadcast bandwidth as TV stations devote more spectrum to Mobile DTV services.

The Wall Street Journal reports MetroPCS Mulls Deal to purchase the assets of mobile satellite service company TerreStar Networks out of bankruptcy court. The article notes that "TerreStar's most attractive assets are government licenses to use certain pieces of radio spectrum, the limited pockets of airwaves available for high-speed data, or so-called 4G, networks." Part of TerreStar's spectrum is from reallocated 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary service spectrum.

For a bit of history on the RCA facility at Rocky Point, see Lost RCA radio sign delivered to Rocky Point Historical Society by Samantha Brix in the North Shore Sun. The article notes, "The RCA facility was a hotspot for radio and television innovations in its heyday. The RCA antenna fields were once the largest transmitting station in the world, and famous radio pioneers often visited the station."

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