By: John Schadler
2017 marks our 75th anniversary in business as well as the year that U.S. broadcasters will begin dealing with some of the biggest challenges we have faced as an industry.
Not only are TV stations tackling the logistical complexities of the spectrum repack, they’re also at the threshold of yet another major DTV transition from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0. With this new DTV broadcast standard comes the opportunity for U.S. broadcasters to deploy promising new services based on IP and mobile capabilities.
Everything in our 75-year history has prepared us for this moment. During the initial DTV transition in the mid-1990s—when orders for high-power antennas surged—we ramped up our manufacturing to support the industry’s needs. At the peak of the transition, we were shipping about 350 antennas per year, and successfully transitioned 1300 U.S. broadcasters to the ATSC era.
Today, we’re ready to pitch in again and help broadcasters through the next pivotal, multi-year transition. And based on our collective insight and experience, we’re prepared to do things even smarter this time around.
Rather than building physical models and gathering data manually, we’re leveraging advanced software simulations to accelerate our antenna design process. On the drafting side, we’re using automated, parametric software to generate design information faster and more accurately for greater efficiency.
Since details of the repack are still emerging, we’re anticipating the needs our customers are likely to have and taking proactive steps to address them. Dielectric recently introduced several next-generation RF antenna products, including our WB broadband UHF antenna and band tunable filters—that are relatively channel agnostic and flexible to configure.
Going forward, our antenna products incorporate RF and digital technology that addresses ATSC 3.0’s demand for higher data rates and increased signal strength. We’re making it possible for broadcasters to deploy our antennas within Single Frequency Network (SFN) architectures that boost signal strength at the edges of their coverage area. And our new FutureFill technology—which we’re incorporating in our latest antennas—allows the null fill to be increased to boost signal strength across the coverage area without negatively impacting VSWR performance.
Broadcasting is a specialized and dynamic business. It’s not something that can be learned in a textbook. With our long history in this industry, we know how to steer our customers smoothly through complex technological transitions. We’ve done it before, and we’re ready to do it again.