GatesAir Second Annual Repack Summit Explores Impact of Channel Relocation, Transition to ATSC 3.0

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GatesAir brought together engineering executives from major US TV broadcast groups and state networks to the Cincinnati Marriott for the company’s second annual Repack Summit. The two-day event, which included insightful presentations from the FCC, NAB, American Tower, Dielectric, GatesAir and Pearl, provided an open forum about topics related to the reverse FCC auction, spectrum repack, and technologies and strategies to help broadcasters navigate a variety of transitional challenges.


The discussion and agenda at this year’s event proved a clear indicator of how far the topics of spectrum repack and ATSC 3.0 have advanced toward reality over the past 12 months. That momentum has carried beyond discussion and into tangible activity, with broadcasters actively purchasing equipment, ordering tower studies and generally updating RF plant infrastructure in preparation.


“There was a lot of uncertainty at last year’s event around timing, but one year later there is real movement happening in the industry to prepare for next-generation DTV,” said Rich Redmond, chief product officer, GatesAir. “Broadcasters are concerned with meeting tight deadlines for what will be the most challenging disruption to over-the-air TV services in decades. The GatesAir Repack Summit 2015 offered a forum to thoughtfully and responsibly lay the groundwork as broadcasters prepare for the challenges and opportunities across channel relocation and the ATSC 3.0 transition.”


Executives and engineers from Cordillera Communications, Cox Media Group, Graham Media Group, Meredith Corporation, Nexstar Broadcast Group, Quincy Broadcast Print Interactive, Raycom Media and Tribune Broadcasting were among those in attendance, representing many of the industry leaders in U.S. TV broadcasting.

Transition to ATSC 3.0

“The GatesAir Spectrum Repack Summit gathered some of the brightest subject matter experts in the industry, covering vital topics from FCC processes and tower regulations to what happens with next-generation over-the-air TV following the repack,” said NAB CTO Sam Matheny, who presented the second day. “This was a real service to everyone in attendance, and demonstrates GatesAir’s commitment to the long-term success of broadcasting.”


The event opened with insights from GatesAir Technical Advisor Jay Adrick regarding station preparation for repack along with a timeline for the spectrum auction; and a summary of key points in the FCC’s Report & Order on the spectrum auction. Patrick McFadden, VP of Spectrum Policy for NAB followed with a policy overview that explored the expected timeline of the spectrum incentive auction, along with outstanding regulatory questions surround the repack process.


The afternoon delivered a compelling Q&A with Pamela Gallant, associate division chief of the video division, media bureau for the FCC, around the reimbursement program and reverse FCC auction; and a detailed presentation from Peter Starke, VP of Broadcast, American Tower, around construction logistics and their impact on multi-station TV and FM RF facilities.


ATSC 3.0 was indeed an ever-present topic over the two days, with two compelling presentations on the challenges and opportunities around this transition. Matheny explored the complexities of migrating to a new standard, and the transitional challenges broadcasters will face the midst of a spectrum auction. Additionally, Anne Schelle, managing director, Pearl, worked through the potential revenue opportunities and business implications of moving to ATSC 3.0, including new opportunities for mobile TV delivery.

This proved an excellent lead-in to Dielectric’s presentation around antenna, filtering and tower upgrades that will be required to support these emerging multichannel TV opportunities. Nathan Smith, director of project management, GatesAir, closed the program with an insightful presentation around end-to-end planning from design to installation and commissioning, demonstrating the benefits of working with turnkey suppliers like GatesAir.


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