RF Shorts for Oct. 20, 2014

European Commission Backs Reallocation of C-band Spectrum for Terrestrial Broadband
Peter B. de Selding, writing on SpaceNews.com, reports European Commission Backs Reallocation of C-band Spectrum to Terrestrial Broadband. “The European Commission, confirming satellite industry fears, has decided to allow terrestrial broadband operators to use a portion of C-band spectrum that had been reserved exclusively for satellite use, a senior commission official said Oct. 9.”

This decision, he writes, is “all but certain to affect the outcome of a WRC preconference of more than 100 governments scheduled for Oct. 20-Nov. 7 in Busan, South Korea, which will set the agenda for WRC-15. It now appears likely that the C-band issue will be placed on that agenda.”

The upper half of the C-band, from 3.8-4.2 GHz, would be protected. In the U.S., C-band downlinks in the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band are widely used for distributing cable and broadcast content. In Latin America, Africa and part of Asia, extended C-band frequencies, below 3.7 GHz are more common. Nigel Fry, head of distribution at the BBC World Service Group, estimated less than two percent of an estimated hundreds of thousands of C-band receivers used by BBC's audience are registered. This makes it difficult to defend C-band allocations.

Cecil Ameil, senior manager for European affairs at satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg, is quoted in the article saying that proposals that C-band satellite customers outfit their antennas with filters to protect against terrestrial emissions will not work. Each filter costs around $1,300. Ameil said asking hundreds of thousands of consumers to purchase and install them is unrealistic.

DISH to Charge OTT Subscribers for Local TV (Unless You Use an Antenna)
Dish Plans to Charge Internet TV Subs Extra for Live Local Broadcast Channels: Sources reports Todd Spangler, NY Digital Editor in an article on Variety.com. He writes, “Dish Network, which is assembling one of the first Internet-delivered pay-TV services in the U.S., is planning to offer local broadcast TV networks to subscribers of the over-the-top service as a separate, premium-priced tier, according to industry sources. But it’s not certain whether the No. 2 satcaster will be able to secure agreements with many broadcasters to be able to bring such an offering to market, as they would expect to be included in any basic pay-TV bundle. 'Good luck with that,' said a senior broadcast exec.”

Spangler quotes one top media exec saying that DISH wants to “offload” retransmission fees for local TV. “Their approach is going to be, 'If you need over-the-air (broadcast TV), great, we’ll sell it to you; if not, you can use an antenna.'”

You may remember that during the early days of the DTV transition, DISH included an ATSC DTV tuner in its satellite receivers. Considering the improvements in antennas, ATSC demodulators, and TV station coverage, if DISH included a tuner with performance comparable to the Hauppauge Aero-M and an antenna such as the Mohu Leaf Ultimate (opens in new tab) or Winegard Flatwave AMPED (opens in new tab) along with a way to stream it to network connected devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.), similar to the Hauppauge Broadway or Simple TV, they could have a winner. Of course, instead of waiting for the DISH product, consumers could simply buy a Tablo, Simple TV or Broadway, pair it with one of the indoor antennas mentioned earlier or a Winegard FV-HD30 Freevision (opens in new tab) for excellent indoor or outdoor VHF and UHF reception, an IPTV box (Roku, Chromecast, etc.), and sign up for Netflix, Hulu and now HBO for premium content.

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.