First Next-Gen TV SFN Now Up and Running


A major milestone in the voluntary roll-out and development of the next-gen broadcast TV standard, ATSC 3.0, has been met in the Dallas-Fort Worth DMA.

It involves American Tower, and the construction of and connectivity for the industry’s first market-wide ATSC 3.0 Single Frequency Network (SFN).

The overall project is a collaboration between American Tower, Univision Local Media, and Spectrum Co, with the support of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Media Group.

The project consists of using four existing American Tower sites, strategically positioned to maximize signal strength over the entire market—both metropolitan and suburban areas. The Fort Worth, Denton, and Garland, Tex., “wireless” sites received infrastructure upgrades to the towers, electrical power, fiber network, and transmitter buildings to meet the high-power TV transmission equipment requirements.

In addition, a prefab shelter was installed at the Garland site. The project design also includes a point-to-point microwave link between the Denton and Fort Worth sites, and ATSC 3.0 transmission equipment was added to the current, main ATSC 1.0 TV transmit tower site in Cedar Hill to complete the four-site SFN design and build.

All sites underwent upgrades for networking, internet exchange, fiber, and data center connectivity, in addition to being upgraded to three-phase power. Each site implemented Comark transmitters and exciters and was built to enable scalability and replication of design for future deployments.

“The construction phase went quite smoothly,” said Ed Tiongson, Director of Product Innovation for American Tower. “With these ATSC 3.0 deployments, it’s critical to draw on expertise to synchronize SFN towers effectively, including integrating the network components, such as antennas, transmitters, and radios for optimum signal delivery.”

The next phase of the project consists of validating the Radio Frequency (RF) design and link budget through drive testing and data gathering. Additionally, the project team will work through operational workflows for management of a market-wide SFN.

“Having the scale and expertise to develop a plan to completion is one of the strengths we offer to our partners,” said Jim Leifer, American Tower’s Senior Manager of Broadcast Operations. “Once the RF measurements are validated, we will be able to scale for additional sites in the future as business needs dictate.”

The development of the ATSC 3.0 SFN in the Dallas-Fort Worth DMA allows for the testing, validation, and deployment of advanced, next generation broadcast services upon FCC approval.