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RF Shorts for Oct. 12, 2012

DirecTV Makes Plans for Ultra-HDTV

If you had a chance to view the 4K UHDTV displays at CES or NAB this year, you know how spectacular and life-like the images can be. While there has been little consumer interest in 3DTV, I think UHDTV will see widespread consumer adoption once the displays become affordable. DirecTV isn't waiting. author Chris Forrester reports DirecTV commits to Ultra-HDTV. He quotes comments from Philip J. Goswitz, DirecTV's SVP for space and communications, speaking at the recent Euroconsult conference in Paris. “Chip manufacturers are making cheaper products. Yes, the TV sets [for ultra-HD] are now $20,000. High definition in 1998 was about like this, and 2005 was the watershed moment” for HDTV adoption. I hope things are going to evolve more quickly this time around. We are going to want to have it in place and we will use Ku-band for [Ultra-HD].”

Goswitz said that DirecTV will convert all of its standard-def transmissions to HDTV by 2016. This will free up 1 GHz of satellite spectrum for use by UHDTV to a potential 20 million homes. In case you are wondering how converting SD to HD will free up spectrum, currently many SD transmissions are being carried in HD now, so no new spectrum is needed for HD. In addition, some of the older SD transmissions may use MPEG-2, a less efficient compression method.

Dish Launches Broadband Via Satellite

Maisie Ramsay, writing on, reported Dish Satellite Broadband Set for Oct. 1 Launch. Ramsay provided information on Dish's pricing for the satellite broadband. The new service will start at about $40 per month when bundled with its television network programming and installation will be free. Those that don't sign up for television will pay $50 per month plus a $100 installation fee. The plan offers downlink speeds up to 5 Mbps and upload speeds of 1 Mbps, with a monthly usage cap of 10 GB. Higher speeds and higher caps are available at extra cost.

The DishNet service launching Oct. 1 will use satellites from ViaSat and Hughes.

Mobile DTV’s Place in the Sun?

Chris Morris offers a critical review of Mobile DTV in his article Mobile TV searches for breakthrough – Enticing devices and services can't shake lingering concerns. Morris begins on a cautionary note: “The history of mobile television has been rocky at best. While the allure of streaming live network programming to viewers over their handheld devices is undeniable, delivering that content in ways that don't abrogate rights agreements and can somehow be monetized has proven mercurial. Loudly trumpeted efforts have fallen short, victims of poor design decisions, overpriced services and/or confusion about the target audience.”

Morris outlines the problems mobile TV operators like MediaFLO had when charging subscription fees. Broadcast Mobile DTV as advertiser supported and making it available via broadcast instead of by the Internet, which eats into cell phone users data plans, is attractive. He quotes a statement by Dyle TV co-general managers Salil Dalvi and Eric Moreno. “New opportunities to extend video watching beyond the living room … point out the unique benefits for broadcast spectrum, and resolve challenges in our wireless 'data-cap' world," Colleen Brown, who chairs the Mobile500 Alliance, is quoted saying, “We are keenly focused on delivering broadcast television to mobile devices so consumers have television when they want it, and where they want it.”

Morris concludes with this quote from P. J. McNealy, CEO and founder of Digital World Research, “Anyone under 30 gets (the idea of mobile TV) immediately. They're used to consumer content on smaller screens. They discover content--like music, movies and TV shows--via YouTube. They're very familiar with the (miniscreen) experience. It's a fit and start because consumers want entertainment. They (also) want sports and they want local. The infrastructure for delivering all that technically is already out there, but we're not (yet) at a point where people are streaming (onto) their iPhones.”

Comments and RF related news items are welcome. Email me 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.