RF Shorts – Sept. 8, 2011

Canadian DTV Transition Criticized
Howard Gibbs from Postmedia News takes a rather cynical look at the DTV transition in Canada in his article What's wrong with this picture? in The Ottawa Citizen. He began the article, "Get ready, Canada. Get ready to say goodbye to free TV as Canada's broadcasters go digital." He continued, "We've all seen the TV network ads saying things like 'the government has mandated,' 'the government has directed broadcasters to convert'--with a 'Mandatory Conversion' logo flashing on a little rabbit ears TV on the screen." And he argued, "This may be somewhat disingenuous, especially for the larger, highly profitable urban TV markets. Here the ads could say: 'Thankfully, we finally get to do what our U.S. broadcast friends did--give Canadians a forced migration away from free TV, narrow the available access points to all TV signals and move them over to our cable, Internet or satellite access, and charge for what used to be free.'"

I don't agree with his assessment of U. S. broadcasters--all the stations I've talked to want to continue off-air broadcasting, and many have expanded it with new multicast channels. Picture quality is excellent, and while it may take a bit more work to receive digital signals, the effort is well worth it. The Canadian transition is different, as I've pointed out before. In the United States, broadcasters were required to replicate their analog coverage to the best extent possible. In Canada, some stations have been allowed to skip the conversion and will eventually go dark, especially in rural areas.

That said, Gibbs make some good points about the value of off-air TV broadcasting, something people in Washington, D.C. need to keep in mind when evaluating proposals that would require many stations to go off the air to obtain the 120 MHz block of TV spectrum for wireless broadband the FCC's National Broadband Plan recommends.

Freescale Sampling "Base-Station-On-Chip" I.C.s
Remember Alcatel Lucent's 'lightRadio' base-station-in-a-box? Freescale is now now sampling the first products in its QorlQ Qonverge wireless base station processor portfolio. Freescale calls the picocell and femtocell products the first "base-station-on-a-chip." They're able to support a wide range of air interfaces, including LTE, WCDMA, WiMAX, UMTS and CDMA. The chips are part of an overall solution that includes RF power amplifiers and low noise amplifiers for receive applications. More information is available on the Freescale QorlQ Qonverge Platform page.

Comments and news items are welcome. Email me at dlung@transmitter.com.

Doug Lung

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.