RF Shorts for Aug. 1, 2013

CEA Says Fewer Households Watch Off-Air TV
Greg Tarr reports CEA: Fewer Households Use Antennas For TV Viewing in the Consumer Electronics Association's magazine TWICE. He writes, “The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) released research Tuesday showing just seven percent of American TV households rely solely on an antenna to receive their television programming.” In 2010 CEA research showed eight percent of TV households reported using an antenna only for TV programming.

The study is based on a phone survey of 1,009 U.S. adults.

These results seem to go against recent news that more people are interested in off-air television and the increase in the number of companies manufacturing and marketing TV antennas. We've also seen Boxee and Roku adding off-air TV reception capability to their Internet TV streaming boxes and that would seem to indicate a growing interest in off-air TV.

Look a bit deeper and you can see how the CEA study is likely to give a very low number as the word “rely solely on an antenna” would indicate it did not the count “cord cutters” who view live TV off-air and also use streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix for premium content. The study does note that that there has been a decline of five percent in the number of homes using traditional pay-TV services since 2010.

I wonder how many of them are now using off-air TV to fill in the local news, live sports and many popular programs they can't get live over the Internet?

Troposcatter Revisited
When I lived in South Florida, in driving to the Keys I would pass a large troposcatter installation that was used for communication with Cuba many years ago. Satellites replaced facilities like these some time ago, but the idea of using troposcatter for medium range communications may be coming back.

John Keller, in his article Army revisits troposcatter communications technology as alternative to long-range SATCOM on MilitaryAerospace.com writes, “U.S. Army researchers are reaching out to industry for fresh ideas on tropospheric scatter (troposcatter) technologies for fixed-site and on-the-move long-range military communications as an alternative to satellite communications (SATCOM).”

He provides a good explanation of troposcatter propagation and how it can be used. 

“Army researchers are interested in troposcatter communications technology for worldwide operation that is reliable in a wide variety of environmental conditions, reduces or eliminates the need for communications relay sites, works in rugged terrain, automatically adjusts data rates due to atmospheric changes, communicates IP voice, data messaging, and multimedia services simultaneously over ranges of at least 25 miles, has an easy-to-use graphic user interface, and that is small, lightweight, and man-portable.”

Keller notes that “troposcatter communications use frequencies around 2 GHz.” Considering the DoD operations in 2 GHz now and discussion about moving DoD operations from the 1.7 GHz spectrum--that it’s giving up for use by wireless broadband--into the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) band, should broadcasters be concerned? The good news is that troposcatter typically works with narrow beams and weak signals, minimizing the likelihood of BAS interference; however, the high power levels typically used could pose a problem in some areas.

Comments and RF related 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. 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.