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Modern DTV transmission networks require innovative infrastructure

By Ray Miklius, vice president, EMEA sales and channel programs, GatesAir

Today’s leading digital TV standards have altered the transmission delivery infrastructure. We see fewer ‘high-power, high-tower’ transmitters worldwide and more low-to-medium power systems. European countries have long used regional headends with many lower-power transmitters, including in the analogue domain. The DVB-T2 standard widely used here and on other continents such as Africa and Asia have evolved this networked transmission concept with IP elements and single-frequency network (SFN) configurations, for example.

An evolution in transmission 
The Maxiva IMTX-70 on display at NAB Show 2022 (left), and GatesAir’s Jacky Yee (head of sales, Asia Pacific) shows off the Maxiva PMTX-1 to visitors at BroadcastAsia Asia Tech x Singapore 2022 (right).

We are now seeing an evolution in transmitter design that aligns with the modernised transmission network approach of DTV standards such as DVB-T2, ATSC 3.0 and ISDB-Tb. Led by our Europe-based engineering team, GatesAir is bringing a series of low-power systems, including gap fillers and transposers, that help broadcasters intelligently fill-out digital TV networks nationally down to the hyper-local level.

The newest is the Maxiva IMTX-70 Intra-Mast, which is a modular, multi-tenant transmitter solution that can house up to eight low-power TV transmitters or transposers in one compact chassis. These are all-inclusive systems that include transmitters, combiners, and other important RF technologies in one self-contained box. 

The benefits for the both the national and regional broadcaster run deep, especially when it comes to installation flexibility. The IMTX-70 proves that GatesAir can provide the same multichannel capacity and level of service in a very high-density configuration as a more traditional solution of standalone transmitters. The footprint is dramatically reduced without sacrificing quality, capacity, or reliability, while also providing our customers with a compact solution that can be installed within broadcast tower structures or placed on desktops. 

We are also now shipping our Maxiva PMTX-1 outdoor pole-mounted series, which gives our customers a rugged, telecom-grade solution that can be installed almost anywhere outdoors. This series integrates a low-power UHF TV transmission system that supports a diverse array of use cases, from filling coverage gaps in large DTV networks to delivering focused broadcast content as a spot transmitter. Impervious to weather elements, these systems can be installed almost anywhere outdoors, including hilltop locations, building structures and traditional broadcast towers.

Core philosophy

These solutions also follow GatesAir’s philosophy of providing its customers with high-efficiency transmission solutions that reduce footprint and energy use, lowering the bills associated with utilities and housing, including rental space inside headends and RF facilities. Measuring only 230 x 485 x 320 mm, the IMTX-70 boasts many features normally found in full-size systems, while also adding the capability of housing up to eight separate transmitter modules. Among the highest density systems on the market, the system adds a DVB-S/S2 satellite receiver option as well as GbE (TS over IP), ASI, T2MI, SMPTE-310M, and ETI inputs for optimal flexibility.

The PMTX-1, which also offers a variety of flexible inputs to support DVB-S/S2 receivers and IP transport streams, takes operational efficiency in exciting new directions. First, its clever one-piece design removes all moving parts and air filters, eliminating most maintenance requirements. The PMTX-1 also has a sealed metal housing that efficiently removes heat from internal circuitry, and performs well in extreme temperatures and humidity levels. This innovative approach to heat management maximises efficiency and keeps utility costs low. 

The avoidance of moving parts is coupled with installation versatility. Flexible mounting options support a variety of scenarios to optimise coverage, including an industry-first pole-mount configuration for hilltop positions and remote locations with no building or tower. The PMTX-1 mounts securely to building structures and traditional broadcast towers, providing broadcasters and network operators with seemingly endless outdoor installation scenarios. This makes the PMTX-1 ideal for single-frequency network (SFN) configurations where multiple transmitters operate on the same frequency to maximise signal penetration. 

With so many new options emerging for DTV network design, broadcasters and network operators require new innovations that help them build the most efficient, versatile, and high-performance networks. These and other solutions on the way from GatesAir are sure to help broadcasters achieve these goals.