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RF Shorts for June 13, 2013

Apple’s iOS-7 Signal Strength Indicator May Not Tell the Truth

Zachary M. Seward writes on Quartz ( that Apple’s signal strength indicator in iOS 7 will lie to you in a whole new way. What readers may find interesting is his description of how signal levels are displayed on mobile phones. He writes: “Signal strength on mobile phones is generally measured as a ratio of decibels to milliwatts, or dBm, in a range roughly between −113 dBm (a very weak signal) and −51 dBm (“Can you hear me now? Good”). You might think that range would be divided equally among the five bars--or, soon, dots--but no. On the iPhone, any reading above −76 dBm, or about 42 percent of the range, registers as five dots. The same sort of grade inflation is common on most Android phones, as well.”

In iOS-7, Apple has moved from bars to dots. Seward comments, “Dots are arguably a more honest representation than bars, which suggest that something is being reliably measured.”

Writer Thinks Collapse of Local TV Predictions Are Premature

Most readers are interested in the future of broadcast TV and may have seen some of the articles about its demise. I found

Two (Big) Things Preventing Local TV’s Collapse by Terry Heaton on to be interesting. After outlining reasons given by some about the pending death of the TV broadcast business, Heaton argues: "So it would be easy to assume downstream trouble for local broadcasters. But while there’s quite likely much of that ahead, it won’t totally kill the industry. There are two enormous roadblocks standing in the way."

These are the U.S. political process (the need for politicians efficiently to reach mass audiences) and emergency information and reporting about the aftermath in emergency situations. For the latter Heaton notes, "Even if Twitter is increasingly recognized as a direct source from witnesses, the job of passing that information, pictures and video along to the general community belongs, at least for now, to the local television stations. This is a job that local stations take very seriously, and innovations intended to disrupt this competency have a long, uphill battle."

Read Heaton's article for both the bad news about broadcasting's future and why it is likely to hang around for a while yet.