STAs smooth way for COFDM links from inauguration

Last week’s presidential inauguration saw heavy use of COFDM links from cameras covering the festivities that would have been difficult if not impossible to accommodate if it weren’t for special temporary authority granted to the major news networks and the planning efforts of Robert Denny, FCC-designated frequency coordinator for the event.

ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC each requested and received STAs from the Federal Communications Commission to operate equipment in the 1.4-, 2.3- and 2.4GHz bands.

COFDM cameras were everywhere covering the inauguration festivities, and only three operated on higher frequencies in the 7GHz band, according to Denny.

While security in Washington, D.C., was at an all-time high to protect against a possible terror strike, frequency usage by federal security agencies didn’t seem to cause broadcasters any more problems than normal, he said.

“There’s never particularly good communications between the frequency coordinator and other agencies, but I can’t attribute that to 9-11,” he said. One important exception was the FCC, which granted not only the STAs for COFDM use but also an STA for TV channel 16 for two-way radio traffic.

The only difficulty crews in the field reported was loss of use of their cell phones the entire time President George W. Bush was on the podium, said Denny.

Successful frequency coordination for the inauguration, which was a joint effort of WEBE Frequency Coordinators and the Society of Broadcast Engineers, required careful planning before the event because policing the use of frequency for offending sources of interference is next to impossible once the day-long event begins.

Denny had to rely on broadcasters to submit their frequency requests and times weeks in advance of the event.

For the most part coverage went off without a hitch. However, Denny said there was at least one notable incident.

“On 2GHZ channel 7, the channel for the parade pool cameras, someone lit up as the president was leaving the White House headed for the Capitol,” Denny recalled. “So Dave Gross from CBS called around. Of course, no one was on, but after the phone call there was no more interference.”

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