Guest Blog: Protecting the Border

Broadcasters must define and defend their footprint

While today much of the border protection discussion focuses on our national security, there is another border battle that is brewing in the broadcast industry. As the ongoing incentive auction offers monetary gain to broadcasters for spectrum resources, the financial dividend may be short lived if the borders of their networks are not protected.

The protection of the broadcast network border must be defined and defended as television stations prepare to repack from their existing channel to a yet to be determined configuration. For Over the Air (OTA) broadcasters, the market based advertising and local population coverage are the lifeblood of the network business. Additionally, as the industry looks to the implementation of ATSC 3.0, reaching a consistent footprint of population is critical for the survival of the network. When competing with ever expanding LTE footprints that will soon occupy the very spectrum that the OTA broadcaster previously used to deliver their service, broadcasters must be properly positioned to continue to deliver their future service to a footprint consistent with their operational area today.

The best method of protecting the border is to obtain the quantitative data that defines the network boundaries. In addition to using projected footprints made by propagation tools that are estimations of coverage, a defined process of measurements and readings can be collected both on the ground and in the air to quantify the current footprint of the network. Once in hand, this data can be used to compare to the footprint after the repack and confirm the consistency of the network operation. In the case of an anomaly in the coverage, the tangible qualified data of the previous operations can be used to establish the baseline coverage for the network.

Additionally, networks not able to repack (Impairment Networks) are faced with a coexistence with the incoming LTE coverage. Managing the OTA broadcast network border for these networks in the face of LTE network transmit power fluctuations is a significant challenge. OTA networks must again protect their border. This can be done with sensor equipment capable of monitoring and recording power levels that establish the acceptable interference levels at the network edge and alarm if this level is exceeded. The recording of the network operations can provide the 24 hour watchdog necessary to guard the border of the network from the encroachment of LTE signals.

Protecting and defending the border for OTA broadcasters is necessary for the survival of their networks. With the ever increasing move to spectrum efficiency, the playing field is becoming more and more crowded. With all of the new entrants, organization and repacking, incumbents must protect their usage of the spectrum. OTA broadcasters must act quickly and work with experienced and qualified companies to collect and record the necessary quantitative data to define their true broadcast footprint today to establish their claim tomorrow. As the industry moves into a post incentive auction repack, persistent monitoring solutions will be a critical part of maintaining the viability of the OTA industry. With the proper preparation and ongoing technology innovations, the OTA broadcaster can have a bright future to deliver their service.

LS telcom’s software, system solutions, and services address the efficient use of radio frequency spectrum and the optimal operation of radio communication services. We are a worldwide market leader in the provision of automated spectrum management systems and their integration with monitoring systems. LS telcom operates worldwide with subsidiaries and affiliates in the USA, Canada, France, South Africa, UAE, and UK, as well as representative offices in Argentina, Hungary, and Oman. Learn more at www.LStelcom.com.