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RF Shorts: Other Items of Interest - Jan. 28, 2010

As broadcasting moves from a service to outdoor antennas to portable devices inside buildings, determining coverage in structures like shopping malls and office buildings will become more important. In searching for RF news items this week, I came upon a company, 4G Unwired RF Engineering Services that has some interesting products and services in this area. 4G Unwired recently announced it can "easily test in-building coverage and display in Google Earth anywhere in the world" without the need for building drawings. The company also sells SkyView RF Mapping software for detailed path studies. 4G Unwired says the program works in any frequency band, so it might be useful for mobile DTV coverage studies as well. I didn't see any information on the propagation models the company was using for its predictive coverage studies.

Website Gigaom looks at the battle over broadcast spectrum and asks Could the Supreme Court and Cablevision Help the Wireless Biz Get More Spectrum? The essence of the article is if Cablevision is successful in getting the Supreme Court to strike down "must-carry" rules that ensure all TV stations that meet certain standards must be carried on local cable systems, some stations will be dropped from cable and will not be able to survive without it. After they die, their spectrum could be used by wireless companies to provide wireless broadband.

The Gigaom article includes this quote from Stifel Nicolaus:

"We understand that roughly 40 percent of full-power stations are must-carry, and many of the stations that rely on must-carry for their MVPD/multichannel carriage would probably not survive without it," Nicolaus said. "Those stations tend to be in larger cities, where wireless spectrum needs are greatest. Given the FCC's search for additional spectrum for wireless broadband, a cable victory could present an important opportunity to reallocate spectrum from broadcasters seeking an exit strategy. In effect, rather than recovering some spectrum from all [or many] broadcasters, it could recover all spectrum from some broadcasters."

On a lighter note, you've seen the Web sites telling you how to make a TV antenna from coat hangers. How about this innovation—a a coat hanger designed to look like a TV antenna.

Here's another article concerned about to the transition to digital modulation and satellite TV. An article in the Telegraph warns it is making humanity more and more invisible to inquisitive aliens on other planets.

Terrestrial or extraterrestrial, your comments and story leads are always appreciated. Drop me a note at

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.