RF Shorts – Feb. 23, 2012

Wall Street Journal Reports Growing Interest in OTA TV
I've noticed an increase in the number of articles about dropping cable TV for over-the-air TV since the analog shutdown and especially in the last few months. This week's article in the Wall Street Journal, Over-the-Air TV Catches Second Wind, Aided by Web by Christopher Stewart started a new wave of articles – Google returned 259 results after searching on the title, with more "very similar entries" available. Stewart writes, "With an increased array of online-video programming now drawing viewers' attention, companies are starting to pitch consumers on complementing online video streamed from the Web with broadcast-TV signals as a way to save money on cable subscriptions. If it gains traction, this trend could undercut part of the rationale for selling off TV spectrum in voluntary auctions, approved by Congress on Friday, aimed at freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband."

I especially liked this comment in the article from Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, "It's not a stretch to think that the broadcast business model will outlive that of cable. The naysayers can talk all they want about broadcasting being a dinosaur."

Click on the link at the end of the article to see readers' comments. People are proud of their ability to hook up an antenna and pull in free TV over-the-air!

IEEE Spectrum on the Spray On Antenna
There are more details on the Chamtech spray on antenna I reported on last week in the IEEE Spectrum article Spray-on Nanoparticle Mix Turns Trees Into Antennas by Dexter Johnson. He explained, "The material that Chamtech came up with contains nanoparticles that when sprayed on a surface act as nanocapacitors. The nanocapacitors charge and discharge very quickly and don't create any heat that can reduce the efficiency of your typical copper antenna. The trick was to get the nanocapacitors to spread out in just the right pattern." Johnson saw Anthony Sutera demo the device and reported, "Perhaps most intriguing from an everyday electronics user perspective is that they sprayed the nanoparticles onto an iPhone antenna and put it into a Faraday cage. When they compared the dBm from the standard antenna to the one they sprayed, they measured an increase of 20 dBm from the standard antenna."

IEEE Spectrum Explains ViaSat-1 Solutions for Satellite Latency and Ka-band Rain Fade
The IEEE Spectrum article on ViaSat-1, Lighting a Fire Under Satellite Broadband – The root of satellite speed is processing power on the ground that describes how ViaSat works around the satellite latency issues when viewing complex web pages. Kim Krieger explains how it works, "ViaSat's solution to the space-based delay was to invest in a fast, efficient ground network system. On a typical network, when a computer requests a website, it gets an inventory of Web-based objects to call up and assemble. If the computer is wired to the Web, that assembly happens so quickly that the user doesn't notice. But if the computer is linked to the Web via satellite broadband, every object request has to go through the half-second call-and-response routine. A page like CNN.com can have hundreds of objects, and the computer has to call each one individually."

Krieger also briefly discusses ViaSat's use of adaptive modems to reduce Ka-band rain fade.

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.