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GatesAir Facilitate Channel Relocation

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GatesAir has been selected by WTTW-TV to fulfil its FCCTV spectrum repack requirements.

WTTW-TV is the primary PBS member station which serves the Chicago market. It carries the PBS network on its main channel, with WTTW Prime, Create/World and PBS Kids on its secondary channels. With its assignment to "Phase 6" in the Midwest/Chicago region, WTTW is legally mandated to complete its relocation to UHF channel 25 by October 18, 2019. According to the FCC's transition timetable, stations affected by the TV spectrum repack are moving in phases to avoid causing interference with other stations in their market.

GatesAir will supply its Maxiva ULXTE high-efficiency, liquid-cooled UHF TV transmitter in preparation for WTTW's relocation from UHF channel 47 to 25. The company also provided a range of technical services to help facilitate the transition, including transmitter site evaluation. The company later delivered a full transition plan across replacement, installation and commissioning of the new Channel 25 transmission system.

Michael Tompary, WTTW's Director of Engineering, explained: "This relocation is a very challenging and complex process because we must keep our existing channel on the air until our official switchover in October of 2019, and then 'flip a switch' to transition our operation to channel 25 flawlessly. GatesAir sent an engineering team to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of our transmitter site, and worked out the best possible plan for replacing our transmitter with the new ULXTE model, given our limited space and the hard deadline we're facing."

The ULXTE will replace a GatesAir Sigma (legacy) transmitter that was installed around 15 years ago. The compact ULXTE utilises the latest 50-volt LDMOS amplifiers to reduce size, weight and energy consumption while increasing power density. Is also integrates GatesAir's new ATSC 3.0-ready XTE exciter, which increases processing power and incorporates its patented RTAC™ technology.

The ULXTE installation is contingent upon the design of a new antenna that will be installed as part of a multi-station antenna farm atop the Willis Tower, which is managed by Vertical Bridge, the owner of the Chicago high-rise.

"We're delighted that WTTW has again put its faith in our transmission technology, as well as entrusting us with the installation of their new TV spectrum repack DTV transmission infrastructure," said Joseph Mack, vice president of Sales, Americas, GatesAir. "With the most extensive manufacturing and service operation in the United States, GatesAir is uniquely prepared to accommodate WTTW and other broadcast organizations with the industry's most comprehensive repack solution, encompassing evaluation, equipment and engineering services. We're also uniquely positioned to provide accelerated delivery, installation and commissioning timelines, which greatly benefit stations that are subject to concrete relocation deadlines."

Image: View from WTTW RF Room at Willis Tower.

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