RF Shorts for Dec. 12, 2013

Terrestrial Operators Eyeing Ka-Band Sat Spectrum
Peter B. de Selding reports on SpaceNews.com Terrestrial Operators Eyeing Ka-band Satellite Spectrum. I suppose we should be surprised as wireless broadband interests seems to be pouncing on any bit of spectrum they think they can pry from existing users, but I was surprised to hear of their interest in Ka-band spectrum. “The same terrestrial wireless broadband interests that covet C-band spectrum now occupied by satellite systems are eyeing Ka-band for next-generation cellular networks, satellite industry officials said Dec. 5,” wrote de Selding.

He offers this quote Kumar Singarajah, director of regulatory affairs and business development at Avanti Communications of London: “There is now a push by major players, including Samsung and other equipment manufacturers, for access to spectrum in the 20/30 gigahertz range, which they would like for 5G terrestrial mobile systems. We have to stay focused on this.”

Ann Vandenbroucke, director of international regulatory policy issues at Inmarsat is quoted in the article: “I don’t think any satellite frequency assets are safe. Ka-band is not under immediate threat, but there are rumors. People are saying it could be shared, or perhaps put to better use by terrestrial wireless applications. We need to go into a mode of spectrum PR. We need to go political, basically, and show how necessary this spectrum is for the oil and gas industry, for shipping and other sectors.”

Verizon Plans 1700 MHz AWS Spectrum Deployment by Mid-2014
Phil Goldstein has more on Verizon's 1700 MHz roll-out in his FierceWireless.com article Verizon will deploy AWS spectrum in 50 markets by mid-2014 – New York City capacity issues have been addressed, cell sites have been fortified.

One of the interesting items in the article is this statement from Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam: “Our goal is to keep the network ahead of our competition. But that by itself is not enough.”

The focus will be on adding applications and solutions that can take advantage of network capabilities. One is LTE Broadcast, which McAdam reiterated Verizon will demonstrate at the Super Bowl in New York in February with devices that are capable of accessing LTE Broadcast technology.

“In New York City, with the right device, with that caveat, you will be able to watch the Super Bowl live.” Going forward, he said, “you will see more and more things you will be able to watch live on your device."

L.A. ‘Megaquake' Could Disable Internet and Cell Sites
It doesn't take much reflection to see how dependent our broadcast stations have become on cell phones and the Internet. The BBC News article Could Los Angeles withstand a 'megaquake'? by science writer Simon Redfern offers a sobering view of what people in Southern California would face after a megaquake.

“It's not a question of if the San Andreas Fault ruptures in Southern California, but when,” he writes introducing comments from US Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Dr. Lucy Jones at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Redfern writes, “The last big earthquake that hit California, the one at Northridge, occurred when the Internet age had just got going. Now, two-thirds of the data capacity of L.A. is carried in fiber-optic cables that cross the San Andreas Fault and would likely be broken in a large quake. Mobile phone antenna towers are not covered by earthquake building regulations.”

Jones said the magnitude 8.8 quake that hit Chile in 2010 wiped out all electronic communications for three days.

Redfern's article underscores the need for broadcast stations to maintain communications and news gathering systems independent of the cellular networks and to have alternatives to fiber such as microwave links to transmitter sites and from ENG receive sites. Satellite communications may be the only way to get information into and out of Los Angeles after a “megaquake.” A simple way to provide a minimum level of satellite backup would be to install a Ka-band Internet service such as ViaSat's Exede or HughesNet.

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

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.