GatesAir, LG and its subsidiary Zenith early this morning with the help of Quincy Group’s WKOW Madison, Wis., conducted an on-air test of Futurecast, a contender for the next-generation digital TV transmission in the United States.
In a telephone interview before the test, Brady Dreasler, chief engineer for Quincy Group, said he was impressed this summer with the robust nature of the Futurecast signal, which allowed mobile reception of the signal at 70 mph.
He also expressed enthusiasm for Futurecast’s ability to deliver a 4K signal throughout the Madison market — even to difficult indoor areas, such as inside a metal structure, including a local WalMart tens of miles from the transmitter.
To receive the Futurecast signal indoors, LG built an outboard, portable test receiver-demodulator and connected it to a 4K TV setup at different indoor locations. A special van was equipped with a Futurecast receiver for the mobile test.
The tests this summer and early this morning were conducted from the station’s main transmitter site. The only modification necessary to put the station on-air with the OFDM-based Futurecast system was a change out of the transmitter’s exciter, said Jay Adrick, an independent consultant and former executive with Harris Broadcast (the predecessor of GatesAir).
While Dreasler was pleased with the coverage of the Futurecast system, both he and Adrick said many broadcasters will find it desirable to deploy Single Frequency Networks consisting of as many as four repeater sites on the periphery of their coverage areas with highly directional antennas pointed back in at the centers of their markets.
At both the 2014 NAB Show and IBC 2014, GatesAir conducted a technology demonstration to show how an OFDM-based system, such as Futurecast, could be used by broadcasters to transmit to LTE mobile phones using Future Extension Frames, FEF, and time division multiplexing.
The WKOW test of Futurecast did not include an FEF component; however, Adrick said future tests of the system may indeed have the ability to transmit to LTE handsets in this fashion.
Futurecast is one of several systems under consideration for the physical layer of the ATSC 3.0 next-generation over-the-air digital TV transmission standard.