Weekly Tech Reminders: EAS, Repack, C-Band & Much More

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes
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The following is excerpted from the Alabama Broadcasters Association's weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to Larry Wilkins, who puts together the content and has shared it with Radio magazine readers. To subscribe to the newsletter, send an email to lwilkins@al-ba.com, and he will add you to the database.

UPDATED Tuesday Sept. 18 at 10:13 a.m.

NATIONAL EAS TEST IS THURSDAY

As a final reminder, FEMA will conduct a National Test of the EAS system this Thursday Sept. 20. 

[Note that the EAS test has been postponed until Oct. 3 because of Hurricane Florence and its aftermath. Read more details here.]

It will be fed via IPAWS at 1:20 p.m. (CDT). All broadcasters and cable systems are required to receive and relay this test. Once the test is completed EAS Participants are required to submit Form 2 (by 11:59 p.m. EDT Sept. 20) on their ETRS site. 

Participants should have someone monitoring this test to assure that it was received and relayed correctly and there were no problems with the quality of the audio. This information will be required on Form 2.

If you operate a facility in Alabama, we ask that if you experienced any problems with the test, to send an email describing the problem to the Alabama SECC.

Special Note: FEMA will be reviewing the situation concerning effects of Hurricane Florence later today (Monday). If they decide to postpone the national test, we will notify all on this email list.

SPECTRUM REPACK IS UNDERWAY

The Repack of the Television stations has started, those in Phase one began test last Friday Sept. 14 with a completion date of Nov. 30. A complete phase schedule is available here.

The NAB has also published special check list for stations on their website.

WIRELESS SYSTEM USERS

Time is running out for anyone using wireless equipment (microphones, IFB systems, two-ways, etc.) that operate between 614–698 MHz to transition to another frequency band. Although technically, users can continue using these frequencies until July 13, 2020, broadband operators in this frequency spectrum are already beginning transmissions around the country. 

Users are encouraged to contact their equipment vendors about making the change earlier to avoid interference.

ATSC NEWS

The SBE and ATSC has announced the development of a new SBE ATSC 3.0 Specialist certification. The new certification will benchmark an individual's ATSC 3.0 standards proficiency. 

Also, the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society will host ATSC 3.0 training classes to be taught by expert Gary Sgrignoli of Meintel, Sgrignoli, and Wallace, the noted digital TV transmission consulting firm. The ATSC 3.0 one-day courses will be hosted at sites throughout the United States and will cover the ATSC 3.0 transmission subsystem and prepare participants to take the ATSC 3.0 certification exam.

The ABA Engineering Academy is working with BTS to host the training class in Birmingham next year.

THUNDERBOLT 3: THE NEXT BIG THING

Intel's Thunderbolt 3 which has been out for a few years appears to be the next big thing in data transfer. It lets you transfer data at up to 40 Gbps, That's twice as fast as the 20 Gbps throughput speed of Thunderbolt 2, and four times as fast as the 10 Gbps of USB-C.

It is designed to work in the same-shaped port as USB-C and is compatible with USB-C cables and devices. However, to get all the benefits of Thunderbolt 3, you'll need to use active cables. Active Thunderbolt 3 cables will use integrated chips to achieve full 40Gbps throughput. You'll want to use an active cable to get the fastest throughput out of local file storage for workstations and servers, particularly if you're connecting to a solid-state-drive-based RAID array.

C-BAND SATELLITE DISH REGISTRATION 

Lest we forget, the FCC is still requesting that all broadcast operations that use C-Band (3.7–4.2 GHz) dishes need to register with the Commission. The deadline has been extended to Oct. 17 — in order to provide operators with more time to file applications.

The FCC also waived the coordination report requirement for the duration of the freeze and clarified that applications to register multiple FSS antennas in this band (those located at the same location) may be filed by using a single registration form and paying a single fee.

FCC RULE COMPLIANCE  

I am often asked what the most common issues are we find while conducting Alternative Broadcast Inspections. Here is a few that I find, hopefully this will be of help in assuring your operation is in full compliance.

  1. While the FCC has reduced the number of logs and technical documents that must be kept there are still a few that are required.
      1. a) Station Log (which includes information concerning proper operation of EAS equipment, tower lights and transmission system). This log must be reviewed and signed by the station Chief Operator weekly.
      2. b) Quarterly tower light inspections (includes lighting and monitor system)

      3. c) Annual NRSC measurement for AM stations.

  2.  Proper instruments and procedures to determine operating power (antenna current meters, efficiency of FM transmitters, and written notations in the transmitter maintenance log). While the FCC rules does not mention "maintenance logs" by name, it does require verification of operation per the station authorization.
  3. Posting of RF warning signs and Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) at the transmitter site.

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