By Vice Chair,  Wayne Stacey

Canadian broadcasters and regulators will soon have access to first-hand technical data on the coverage capabilities of the transmission standard selected for over-the-air DTV use in Canada and the USA.  In March, Industry Canada agreed to help fund a project that, among other things, will generate technical data about the ability of the ATSC 8-VSB system to duplicate analogue   TV coverage and penetrate buildings.  This information will be used to help fine-tune Canada’s DTV Allotment Plan and the Broadcast Procedures and Rules (BPR) that accompany it.

Based in Ottawa, the project is being undertaken as a co-operative venture that includes CDTV, several of its individual members, Industry Canada and the Communications Research Centre (CRC).  The technical evaluation portion of this co-venture will be managed by the CRC, which will be responsible for carrying out engineering studies and producing reports.  Industry Canada’s participation includes cash funding in the amount of $200,000 as well as the involvement of its Broadcast Planning & Technical Policy Division personnel in the assessment of the data.

For its part, CDTV and its individual members will supply equipment, transmission facilities and liaison for the project.  In this regard,  CDTV has already arranged for the supply of a suitable tower (Rogers Broadcasting Ltd), a UHF-TV antenna and transmission line (CHUM Ltd) and building space at the Manotick tower site (CTV and CHUM Ltd).  A solid-state DTV transmitter will be provided to the project at no cost by Larcan Inc., while Dielectric Communications has agreed to provide an antenna combining system.  A number of other CDTV  members, including Davicom (remote controls) and Tektronix (test equipment) have come on board in recent weeks with offers of free equipment.

The CRC is now making arrangements for equipment installation at the Manotick site.  As this will be a substantial installation, building modifications for ventilation, air-conditioning and electrical power are required. 

Assuming critical items such as the transmitter can be delivered by mid-August, it is expected that DTV transmissions on Channel 67 will commence in early September.  This will enable some field assessments to be done in good weather, leaving the winter months for data analysis.  Other investigations, such as indoor reception in various types of commercial buildings and residences, can also be done in the winter.   

Given that this will be a full-power installation that will have a wide reach, it is also possible that CDTV  will want to use the facility to conduct DTV demonstrations and focus-group assessments.  Stay tuned for more information as this exciting project unfolds.  

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