RF Shorts – May 5, 2011

TV Set Ownership Drops
Brian Stelter writes about a Nielsen Company report in the New York Times article Ownership of TV Sets Falls in U.S.. Nielsen said that 96.7 percent of American households now own sets compared with 98.9 percent in its last report. The research company found that newly TV-less households generally had incomes of less than $20,000 and many were in rural areas, although other households without television sets belong to either "cord-cutters" (people who have cancelled cable TV subscriptions), or those who never had cable. These could include younger Americans moving into new residences and not buying television sets for themselves. The article doesn't mention multitaskers like me, who view TV on a computer with a USB tuner hooked up to cable or an off-air antenna, but does list a number of other reasons as to why fewer households own TV sets.

Transporting Pakistan Raid Video to the White House
You may have wondered how President Obama at the White House was able to view live video of the raid on Bin Laden's house in Pakistan. Robert Goodwins, writing on ZDNet.co.uk discusses this in his posting How Obama watched the Bin Laden mission. Goodwins says the video almost certainly used the ArcLight mobile broadband system from ViaSat. He notes that the company had announced a militarized, secure version for Communications for COTM (Communications On The Move) was sold to the American Special Operations Command and had already been deployed in the Middle East. The system is now fitted to American Black Hawk helicopters and C-130 command and control aircraft. It uses Ku-band frequencies and can be configured to offer data rates including 10 Mbps down and 515 Kbps up, or a symmetrical 3 Mbps. The VMT-1220HE on the Black Hawk helicopters supports uplink rates of up to 325 Kbps, not enough for HD, although Goodwins says that three aircraft could bond their uplinks together to get almost 1 Mbps. Refer to Goodwins article for more technical information on the COTM uplinks.

Microsoft Offers to Maintain White Space Database
The FCC released a Public Notice (DA 11-803) seeking comment on Microsoft Corporation's proposal to be designated as a TV Bands ("White Space") Device Database Administrator. The Public Notice says Microsoft attended the first two workshops for database administrators and provided the information required from TVBD database administrators. Microsoft stated it would comply with the rules changes adopted in the Second MO&O and the other three conditions in the Jan. 26, 2011 that conditionally designed nine database administrators. The FCC said "We intend to consider designating Microsoft as a TV bands database administrator. Consistent with our previous action in this proceeding, we are providing an opportunity for interested parties to file comments on the Microsoft proposal."

More Angst About LightSquared GPS Band Waiver
InsideGNSS.com has an excellent article summarizing concerns about the waiver the FCC granted LightSquared allowing high powered terrestrial operations in bands adjacent to those used by GPS in the article Coalition to Save Our GPS Webinar Highlights LightSquared Risks. Webinar speaker Jim Kirkland, VP and general counsel for Trimble, termed LightSquare was "blaming the victim" when it said that the interference problem was due to inadequate filtering within GPS equipment, rather than with LightSquared's planned transmitters. Kirkland stated that "GPS receivers use high-quality filters that can resist signals in adjacent bands hundreds of thousands of times the power of the GPS signal, but the laws of physics can overwhelm those filters with signals that are a billion times stronger than GPS. No existing filter can overcome this power differential." He added that a receiver problem didn't really exist, and that the potential interference problem being faced now was due occurred when "a hedge fund investor... made a speculative investment to buy spectrum next to GPS for very little money... and took a gamble that they could get the FCC to change the rules."

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.