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RF Shorts - June 7, 2012

Time to kill off broadcast TV or will it die on its own? 

This has not been a good week for TV, broadcast or cable TV in the press. It started with the June 3 piece Don't Mean To Be Alarmist, But The TV Business May Be Starting To Collapse by Henry Blodget. After explaining in great detail how the cable TV and broadcast TV ad models are failing, he concludes, “Bottom line, as it has in newspapers, the TV business is going to have to get radically more efficient. It won't disappear--newspapers haven't disappeared---but the fat and happy days will have to end.” 

Steve Wildstrom, writing on, isn't willing to wait for broadcast TV to die. He writes in It’s Time To Kill Off Broadcast TV --“No TV--It's time to take over-the-air television out and shoot it.” Don't look for it to happen soon. 

He writes, “Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see the end will come for over-the-air TV any time in the foreseeable future. The deck is too heavily stacked against it. Broadcasters, of course, hate the idea and they remain very powerful in Washington, less because of their campaign contributions than because they control the free exposure on local TV that candidates for Congress depend on. The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t like the idea either because without over-the-air broadcasts, the commission would effectively lose all power to regulate television, and regulators do like to regulate. Some will object that free television is a basic right that must be preserved.” 

The Web notes that Steve Wildstrom is a veteran technology reporter, writer and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. It also says “[he] has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.”

On Wednesday, Henry Blodget posted some well argued comments for the TV busness in Oh, Please, Of Course TV Isn't Going To Collapse -- We're Watching More All The Time! [REBUTTAL]. The comments dispute Blodget's assertions point-by-point. 

Finally, in a perhaps a bit of good news showing there is still an interest in over-the-air TV, the FCC posted its Summary of Top Consumer Inquiry Subjects Processed by the FCC's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau – First Quarter - Calendar Year 2012. In March, 2012, the number of inquiries on “Over-the-air Reception Devices” exceeded the number of inquiries in any other subject in the Cable and Satellite Services category, increasing from 115 in January, to 189 in March. Digital Television inquiries in the Radio and Television Broadcasting category were 259 in March, similar to the numbers in previous months and, for the quarter, they totaled 767, exceeding the number of inquiries in any other Cable and Satellite Services or Radio and Television Broadcasting category. I suspect this increase is due to the increasing interest in free over-the-air TV reception as evidenced by the growing number of companies offering TV antennas. 

Columbia Plans DVB-T2 Launch

Rohde and Schwarz this week announced that “Next year, Colombia will be the first country in Latin America to go on the air with a DVB-T2 TV network.” The network will use Rohde & Schwarz THU9 transmitters, which provide power and infrastructure cost savings compared with the R&S NV8600 series transmitters they’re using for DVB-T. Those transmitters will gradually be upgraded to DVB-T2 using the R&S TSE800 coder expansion. 

The new network will consist of eight additional transmitter sites constructed in major cities. The transmitters will be configured in a two-plus-one redundant configuration, with three THU9 transmitters in one rack. Transmission facilities in Tubaco and Tasajero use three 6.4 kW transmitters housed in two racks. 

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, with broadcasting set to begin on Jan. 1, 2013. 

Balloon-Based “Disaster” Antenna Developed

Last week I reported on the FCC's Vision for 'Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture'. It appears Tokyo mobile operator Softbank has the same idea.

In a Tokyo Times article, Softbank designs balloon-based “disaster-antenna", the newspaper states, “Softbank, Japan’s third-largest mobile operator, announced it began testing a mobile cellphone station created especially for being used in the wake of natural disasters like the one that affected the country last year. The original thing about the station is that it is flying around in a balloon. The antenna is placed in a balloon at 100 meters above ground and it enables several hundred users in an area of 3 to 5 kilometers around the base to make phone calls at the same time.” 

Propagation Studies Provide Evidence About Amelia Earhart's Last Days

Amateur radio operators and other users of the shortwave spectrum are familiar with the software available to predict the best frequencies and time of day to use to establish communication with stations around the world. The Christian Science Monitor article, Amelia Earhart: New evidence tells of her last days on a Pacific atoll mentions that “Using equipment not available in 1937--digitized information management systems, antenna modeling software, and radio wave propagation analysis programs, TIGHAR concluded that 57 of the 120 signals reported at the time are credible, triangulating Earhart’s position to have been Nikumaroro Island.” (TIGHAR is the acronym for “The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery.)

New Alien Messaging Method Likely to Speed Our Destruction

Some articles are so unusual I feel I have to provide a link so that others can enjoy them. Science Correspondent Anna Phillips' article, New Method for Messaging Aliens Likely to Bring Destruction Down On Our Heads That Much Faster is one of them. She writes, “Perhaps such life does exist somewhere out there and perhaps someday we will find it or, more likely, it will find us. Now scientists believe they have developed a new method for engaging such a meeting, one which allow signals from Earth to multiply in efficiency, reducing the cost to almost nothing, and likely precipitating an invasion from a hostile species that much sooner.” 

“There is a concern, obviously, that contacting these types of places without any kind of foreknowledge is a treacherous thing to do,” said Scape TV science analyst, Dr. Howard Poe. “That it, in itself, could bring on a nightmare apocalypse that would end our species or at the very least enslave us forever to a malevolent species and so blindly sending out signals may not be the best thing for us to be doing. This would be similar to Native Americans approaching Europeans and just assuming they were pleasant folks, which they clearly were not. We don’t know anything about these aliens and until we do, messaging them may be very dangerous.”

Of course, there might not be anything for the aliens if the release from Simon Fraser University, Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse is valid. It says, “Earth's accelerating loss of biodiversity, its climates' increasingly extreme fluctuations, its ecosystems' growing connectedness and its radically changing total energy budget are precursors to reaching a planetary state threshold or tipping point. Once that happens, which the authors predict could be reached this century, the planet's ecosystems, as we know them, could irreversibly collapse in the proverbial blink of an eye.”