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RF Shorts - July 15, 2010 has an interesting article on The Serval Project, which is designed to enable mobile phone use in areas with no reception. The project is working on two ways to achieve this. One is a temporary, self-powered mobile phone network dropped into an isolated area by aircraft and operated with small towers. The second is more interesting. The article states that it "…consists of a permanent mesh-based phone network between Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phones, with no tower infrastructure required." The article noted that the system will eventually include the "Batphone", which is a specifically designed phone that's able to operate on unlicensed frequencies. The Serval Project's how-it-works web page has more details on the project.

Antenna Pros has introduced three long range digital outdoor HDTV antennas with remote controlled rotation. The Model AX-909 can provide reception throughout the TV bands from low VHF through UHF, with VHF gain up to 32 dB and UHF gain up to 35 dB. This seems to be the same product that I saw at CES and spoke with the distributor, who was surprised to hear that such high gain could cause problems. This is particularly interesting, as the press-release based story notes that many television viewers "make the mistake of getting a powerful outdoor antenna when all they need is a simple indoor antenna." It further states that residents of such major cities as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are within a 20 mile range of television stations and should be using indoor antennas for the best reception.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.