[opendtv] Re: "It can't be done"

  • From: "John Willkie" <johnwillkie@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 10:18:25 -0800

I'm willing to bet that you, Craig, cannot find a feasible site in Santa
Barbara county for a SINGLE new transmitter/antenna combination.

My criteria: you getting a letter of intent from a landowner, for a site
that serves part of the market, which meets all electrical/interference
criteria and land use/RFR criteria of S.B. county and the municipalities
therein.  I'm including in the eligibles all current transmit sites and any
new ones you can find.  

A single site is just a start of a SFN, but you need to start there, unless
you are going to "flash-cut" your proposed SFN. (Which you cannot do,
because you need to tune it up off-line before putting it into service)

Let me give you a bit of perspective.  In the early 1990s, a friend of mine
named Bob Suffel had a LPTV cp for Santa Barbara.  He couldn't find a single
site where he could serve a sizeable audience, where he could get a letter
of intent, and where he could get land use approval from the county or a

You did notice that I said land use/RFR criteria for Santa Barbara County?  

Due to the terrain and the county having a RFR policy, you picked the wrong

Dale -- more knowledgeable about this county than I -- has politely been
trying to clue you into this.

One can name all sorts of places in the West where it's EXTREMELY difficult
to put up new stations that will reach sizeable audiences -- Phoenix, Yuma
and Tucson come to mind instantly -- but Santa Barbara is by far the most
difficult due to county land use/RFR policies.  Particular cities within
that county are much worse than the unincorporated parts of the county.

And, to iterate: this is only the first site that you want to use for your

I'm not saying that SFN's cannot be done.  I'm saying you foolishly picked
the wrong/worst county to try it in.

It's hard to find cell towers in S.B. County.  They all have to be disguised
and have since day one.  All broadcast towers go up on the "scenic" hills.

John Willkie

> -----Original Message-----
> From: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> On Behalf Of Craig Birkmaier
> Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 6:50 AM
> To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [opendtv] "It can't be done"
> At 1:47 PM -0800 12/26/06, Dale Kelly wrote:
> >IMO, Bert does indeed have a grasp of signal and receiver dynamics which
> >impact DTV reception and does also generally understand issues related to
> >SFNs. However, he nor you have ever dealt with the practical and
> financial
> >aspects of designing an RF system that is FCC compliant and which can
> >overcome such difficult coverage problems. However, if your maps had the
> >necessary information, he could likely give it a good start.
> Obviously Bert has no interest in the challenge. His pre-conceived
> notions about the viability of SFNs versus continuing to waste
> valuable spectrum with the current high powered ATSC big stick
> approach are keeping him from using his imagination and engineering
> skills.
> So be it. The challenge was a good natured attempt to get Bert
> thinking about alternatives to the failing U.S. OTA broadcast system.
> I would add that Dale also seems to be looking at all of this via a
> rear-view mirror. But I believe Dale may be more open to innovative
> new solutions, if he can get past the age old problem of "we tried
> that and it didn't work.
> A brief aside. Several times during my career, I have confronted what
> i consider to be one of the major roadblocks to innovation and
> progress, as it relates to designing any kind of product or
> infrastructure. There is a built in (and highly biased) database in
> most engineers/companies/industries, which springs from real world
> experience. The response one hears is typically something like: we
> tried that years ago and it can't be done. Every industry builds up
> such a legacy mind set, which makes it difficult to solve problems in
> new and innovative ways.
> I experienced this at the Grass Valley Group when I helped to lead
> the team that built the Model 100. The hardest task was to overcome
> all of the things that various people around the project said could
> not be done. Perhaps the best single example was the need to change
> the company colors - prior to the Model 100 every switcher was Grass
> Valley beige, with DS (diaper shit) orange silk screens. The most
> useful new feature was the ability to get the entire video path onto
> a single board, so that video alignment was simplified, and we could
> do a switcher alignment via a board exchange.
> Helping companies to develop the new computer-based tools that now
> dominate video production was a much more difficult undertaking. Here
> we were fighting the way things were always done, and an analog
> mindset, that was not open to the idea that we are just processing
> rasters of samples, not analog waveforms complete with sync, blanking
> and subcarrier. The shift to digital technology re-wrote the
> rulebook. Many things that could not be done, were quite easy when we
> started manipulating pixels.
> The same is true for the biggest laggards of them all, TV
> broadcasters. They still don't understand that they are in the
> business of managing data. They haven't a clue that they have all the
> technology they need to compete effectively, developing relationships
> with viewers rather than audiences.  And the worst aspect of this is
> what Dale identified in his post. The need to keep an outdated
> government bureaucracy happy, rather than working to get rid of it
> and the excess baggage that keeps broadcasters from using the
> spectrum to develop a competitive OTA service.
> I fully understand where Dale is coming from. I enjoyed great success
> in my career, acting as the expediter to help companies overcome some
> of these mental hurdles. That is, until I got involved in the U.S.
> DTV process. For the past 14 years I have been amazed at the power of
> key industry players to block and delay, and to throw logic and good
> engineering principles to the wind. Eventually I let go, after
> beating my head into a wall too many times. At least now I have the
> satisfaction of beating a nail or two, and actually building things
> that work.
> I ask Dale, and others to simply consider alternatives, without the
> legacy bias that say you can't do that. When OTA broadcasting dies
> someone will come behind and do it. Actually, companies are already
> starting to do it. But they are highly constrained, due to the lack
> of spectrum available to build new digital broadcast infrastructure
> that can provide a viable option to the broadcast and multichannel
> oligopoly that has us stuck in the past today.
> So please consider the possibilities, without the constraints of
> legacy thinking.
> As a starting point, I did a bit of research yesterday into some
> basic OFDM design constraints. The best resource I found is a pdf
> White paper published by MediaFlo, the Qualcom subsidiary that is
> building out an OFDM-based mobile TV infrastructure in recovered
> 700Mhz spectrum.Here is the link:
> http://www.qualcomm.com/mediaflo/news/pdf/MediaFLO_SFN_Whitepaper.pdf
> The paper is highly informative, and includes several maps detailing
> how the network will be built in several areas of the country. One
> interesting take away is that it will take only 30 transmission sites
> to completely cover the NE corridor, and this includes both national
> channels and local channels in several markets. You can zoom in on
> the maps and see exactly how they plan to do it.
> Based on this document, it appears that they are using a cell spacing
> of 27.7 km, or about 17.7 miles. Keep in mind that this is designed
> to provide a base and enhancement layer for fixed, portable and
> mobile reception in a six MHz channel. I consider this to be the
> worst case scenario - but it serves as an excellent example of what
> broadcasters COULD do.  Given this spacing, it appears that Dale's
> market could be served with 5-6 transmission sites, probably two a
> bit closer together to provide optimal service in the more populous
> Santa Barbara area. My guess is that this would leave only a few
> isolated pockets where On-channel repeaters would be needed to fill
> in terrain blocked areas.
> This should be enough to get things moving on a useful discussion.
> I'll add more ideas as we develop this thread.
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