GatesAir UHF Transmitter to bring Washington DC NEXTGEN TV broadcasts to airwaves

GatesAir and NEXTGEN TV

GatesAir has joined forces with Pearl TV and Howard University to bring NEXTGEN TV service to Washington DC this fall. GatesAir will ship a Maxiva ULXTE-50 UHF transmitter to Howard University’s WHUT-TV in preparation for an October launch, forming the nucleus of the public broadcaster’s new ATSC 3.0 transmission facility. WHUT, a PBS member station, will serve as the host station for the collaborative effort, using the high-power, liquid-cooled GatesAir transmitter to carry NEXTGEN TV signals from WHUT and four local commercial broadcast network affiliates.

WHUT brings several compelling advantages as a lighthouse station, including a prime location in the city that will maximize market reach. Howard University’s academic resources and educational initiatives will add value to the cooperative effort taking shape in DC. These include a Media Technology Innovation Learning Lab that, in cooperation with NAB, was formed to drive industry collaboration and develop new NEXTGEN TV services. Working closely with NAB, Howard University is also the only learning institution in the United States to offer a dedicated NEXTGEN TV seminar series, which is an educational platform for next-generation engineering talent. This important initiative gives students a chance to be on the ground level of NEXTGEN TV development for the Washington DC service.

Local commercial stations WJLA (ABC), WUSA (CBS), WTTG (FOX) and WRC (NBC) will join WHUT in the delivery of HD programming and standard-definition sub-channels (including the PBS Kids service) from the GatesAir transmitter. The transmitter will also carry new digital and multimedia services supported through the ATSC 3.0 standard. Sean Plater, General Manager for WHUT-TV, adds that WHUT and sister FM radio station WHUR (where Plater is also General Manager) are longtime GatesAir customers.

“WHUT is testing many of the datacasting concepts that come with NEXTGEN TV, and all four commercial stations are sharing innovative ideas,” said Sean Plater, Acting General Manager, WHUT-TV. “WHUT will look to provide internet access to those without broadband internet service, particularly in the Ward 7 and 8 neighborhoods of Washington DC. All five stations are looking at emergency alerts and interactive services that weren’t before possible with local television. A Howard University student is interning with Pearl TV this summer to help develop a new application, and we hope to involve more students in these development processes over time.”

Anne Schelle, Managing Director, Pearl TV, says that the Washington DC model exemplifies the spirit of public and commercial broadcasters working together to advance the future of local television. “Washington DC is an interesting market given the large amount of broadcast spectrum sold during the recent Incentive Auction. This a strong example of public and commercial broadcasters coming together in a collaborative effort to make the most of the market’s available spectrum,” she said. “The commercial stations recognized the challenges that Howard University would have as a lighthouse station and, along with GatesAir and other partnering technology suppliers, played important roles in funding this project.”

GatesAir, headquartered in Mason, Ohio, is one of many suppliers supporting the initiative. The Maxiva ULXTE-50 transmitter, built at GatesAir’s Quincy, Illinois manufacturing center, will provide seamless interoperability with the encoders, schedulers, and other key technologies within WHUT’s transmission headend. GatesAir will provide installation and commissioning services for its transmitter, which integrates an ATSC 3.0-ready GatesAir Maxiva XTE exciter.

“Pearl TV has built momentum for NEXTGEN TV throughout the United States with strategic launches in nearly 30 markets to date,” said Bruce D. Swail, CEO, GatesAir. “GatesAir is proud to play a key role in a number of Pearl TV’s NEXTGEN TV initiatives, including milestone projects in Phoenix, Seattle, and now Washington DC. This latest launch is especially significant as it exposes the policymakers of our nation to the exciting features and groundbreaking public service benefits of NEXTGEN TV. We are excited to work closely with Pearl TV and their broadcast and technology partners to bring NEXTGEN TV signals to air in additional markets, and support their cause in bringing cost-effective receivers to market that accelerate consumer interest and adoption.”

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