WTTW Repack Game Plan Includes GatesAir


The primary PBS member station serving the Chicago market, WTTW-11, has selected GatesAir to fulfill its FCC TV spectrum repack requirements.

The wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions provider for TV and radio broadcasters will offer the station its newly released Maxiva ULXTE high-efficiency, liquid-cooled UHF TV transmitter in preparation for WTTW’s relocation from UHF channel 47 to 25.

WTTW uses virtual channel 11, and the relocation is to be seamless to most viewers.

Owned by Window to the World Communications, WTTW carries the PBS network on its main channel, with WTTW Prime, Create/World and PBS Kids on its secondary DT channels.

With its assignment to “Phase 6” in the Midwest/Chicago region, WTTW is legally mandated to complete its relocation to UHF channel 25 by Oct. 18, 2019. Stations affected by the TV spectrum repack are moving in phases to avoid causing interference with other stations in their market.

GatesAir provided a complete range of technical services to help facilitate the transition, including comprehensive transmitter site evaluation. The company later delivered a full transition plan across replacement, installation and commissioning of the new Channel 25 transmission system.

“This relocation is a very challenging and complex process because we must keep our existing channel on the air until our official switch-over and then ‘flip a switch’ to transition our operation to channel 25 flawlessly,” said WTTW Director of Engineering Michael Tompary. “GatesAir sent an engineering team to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of our transmitter site, and worked out the best possible plan for replacing our transmitter with the new ULXTE model, given our limited space and the hard deadline we’re facing.”

The ULXTE will replace a GatesAir Sigma transmitter that was installed about 15 years ago.

The ULXTE installation is contingent upon the design of a new antenna that will be installed as part of a multi-station antenna farm atop the Willis Tower, which is managed by Vertical Bridge.