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Planning next-gen OTA systems for DTV in Asia-Pacific

Cory Edwards

Global Sales Manager of Dielectric

Where high-power transmission has long been the favoured platform for over-the-air (OTA) TV delivery in North America, much of the remaining world has long favoured lower-power systems. Low-power transmission systems, notably single-frequency networks (SFNs), help broadcasters effectively reach local populations and manage challenging terrains.

That is especially viable throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines manage TV delivery over thousands of islands. Today’s advanced digital TV standards, including ATSC 3.0, DVB-T2 and ISDB-Tb, are all used in various Asia-Pacific countries — and often leverage SFN architectures and low-power systems.

The Philippine market has been especially active for Dielectric. Many broadcasters are in the early stages of the DTV transition, which is slated for completion by 2023. Our local partner 90 Degrees North has seen brisk business, including a deal with Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media (BEAM) covering RF filters, combiners and transmission line.

All of these matter when planning an SFN.

Each network site foremost requires the appropriately defined directional antenna patterns, power levels, network timings, and heights above ground level, for example, to ensure proper synchronization, coverage, and removal of overlapping signals that cause interference. Beyond antennas, these sites also require properly matched filters, combiners, switches and transmission line to optimise SFN functionality.

Dielectric’s Powerlite Series was initially developed to address low-power TV and FM radio budgets. As these systems combine antennas, transmission line, tunable filters and other RF components into all-inclusive packages, they have also proven valuable for broadcasters transitioning to low-power DTV systems.

The most recent Dielectric innovation in this space is the Powerlite TFU-WB-LP Series, which is the first to specifically target ATSC 3.0 systems. We have added support for nearly 20 additional antenna patterns that apply not only to ATSC 3.0 SFN systems, but low-power TV systems worldwide.

The big question remains: How does a network operator efficiently manage all of the requirements that bring the RF ecosystem together? For example, the challenge of designing an RF mask filter for each site that customised for power and tunable channel at each site.

It comes down to software and planning. Over the past year, Dielectric has released online tools that allow broadcasters to develop advanced, software-based antenna and RF designs over the web. This includes Dielectric’s Proposal Generator software to streamline low-power antenna technical proposals. With this software, users can clearly see how design choices impact the antenna performance. The software also removes the “back and forth” process of review iterations to perfect the design. Users can directly enter values for the following information:

  • Location, channel and frequency
  • Antenna model, azimuth and elevation patterns with polarization selection
  • Evaluate wind loading and other mechanical specifications
  • Inputs to automatically calculate antenna gain and transmission line losses

As broadcasters shift to next-generation TV standards and systems, these advanced RF systems and software design tools will allow for quicker fulfilment of TV orders in the Asia-Pacific region, which largely operate lower power systems, and at a lower overall cost to the end customer.

Powerlite antenna technical proposal software is readily available for download for free from the software section of Dielectric’s website.

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