The U.S. spectrum repack for broadcast TV stations is advancing toward its conclusion. Dielectric has played an integral role for many stations in reaching this point, and now the Maine-based tower manufacturer is ready to move on to the industry’s next big effort — embracing ATSC 3.0 and the new digital broadcast standard.
At Dielectric, work is being done to finalize its remaining shipments for Phase 10 of the repack process — the final phase for higher power stations.
How Dielectric has led during the repack is a story in and of itself: the company reports an approximate 82% of the total repack market share.
“We have booked 959 repack or displaced antenna arrays in North America since we began taking repack orders, and have shipped more than 930 of those arrays over a 30-month period,” says Dielectric VP Jay Martin. “Upon adding in non-repack projects, we estimate that Dielectric will ship 1,065 medium-to-high power antennas within that period in North America alone by the conclusion of the repack.”
To help get to this point, Dielectric established a manufacturing strategy across two facilities that focused on advance production, assembly and stocking of antennas and supporting RF systems. This allowed Dielectric to reliably deliver orders across strict repack timelines while also accommodating emergency requests and filling new orders unrelated to repack.
“Beyond antennas, we built 111 miles of transmission line; 1,039 RF filters; and 101 multichannel combiners for TV alone,” said Martin. “We built 395 complete RF systems and we built many of these within days to address very short lead times. The volume of product we have manufactured and shipped has been astronomical. We’re applying similar advance preparation strategies as more NextGen TV opportunities surface. That will ensure we can properly address growing interest in our Powerlite low-power antenna systems for ATSC 3.0 SFNs, while also serving our other customers without delay.”
Meanwhile, Martin anticipates a busy period ahead for replacement TV antennas worldwide, including more than 200 high-power antennas and transmission line runs in North America that have been in operation for at least 30 years. Dielectric’s existing RF portfolio, augmented by the ongoing development of antennas, filters and components, will ensure that these customers have access to the latest RF technology and manufacturing capacity to meet their technical and delivery needs.
Dielectric’s recently-introduced RFHAWKEYE for real-time monitoring of antenna feed systems will serve another critical business need moving forward, providing customers with previously unavailable status monitoring of these essential systems.
In the view of Dielectric VP/GM Keith Pelletier, a focus on the launch of LPTV design tools will allow for quicker fulfillment of international TV orders, which largely operate lower power systems, in addition to serving NextGen TV and other domestic LPTV customers.
“We have added support for nearly 20 additional antenna patterns that apply to NextGen TV SFN systems and low-power TV systems worldwide, along with a comprehensive software toolset for consultants to enhance SFN coverage analysis and antenna configurations,” Pelletier said. “These advanced toolsets, along with maintaining our high-capacity manufacturing practices established during repack, ensures that Dielectric customers will be well-served for years to come.”
— Brian Galante
Dielectric will present information on its expanded Powerlite Series, RFHAWKEYE, and its overall NextGen TV value proposition this week during NAB Show Express. Dielectric’s virtual NAB Show Express presence is accessible at https://bit.ly/3cfRHKf tomorrow (5/13) and Thursday, May 14.