Columbia, Md. — WPBT South Florida PBS has contracted premier transmitter, test and measurement and studio equipment manufacturer Rohde & Schwarz to provide a turnkey solution for its FCC repack transition. The PBS member station serving Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (DMA #16), WPBT is part of Phase 2 of the repack and is facing a transition deadline of April 12, 2019.
“It’s a challenging time for us, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to update our existing systems and become current,” explained Gene Talley, WPBT vice president of engineering and operations. “We can also use this opportunity to get ready for our next transition to ATSC 3.0.”
Once Talley confirmed WPBT would be affected by the FCC repack, he chose Rohde & Schwarz to manage the station’s transition. He said the company “offered a real turnkey solution, the total package of services that I would need separate from just buying a transmitter.”
Dermac Group, a separate company created specifically to support Rohde & Schwarz’s installation services, provides comprehensive project management and full documentation for FCC requirements. After a detailed site survey, Dermac provides a scope of work (SOW) and assigns a dedicated project manager, so stations have a single point of contact. Dermac can install equipment, decommission old equipment and dispose of hazardous materials, and coordinate efforts with other contractors, when necessary.
“As a partner of Rohde & Schwarz, we support the end-to-end needs of their customers for any aspect of the repack process,” explained Robert “Mac” McAfee, executive vice president and COO of Dermac Group. “We eliminate risk to the customer because we have the most knowledgeable team in the industry and we analyze every aspect of the job and account for contingencies.”
WPBT South Florida PBS has contracted Rohde & Schwarz to provide a turnkey solution, including a new liquid-cooled transmitter, for its FCC repack transition.
WPBT is one of the more complex projects Dermac is managing because of its multi-phase installation. McAfee said the transition will include replacing the station’s auxiliary transmitter with an interim transmitter that can service at least 85 percent of the current coverage area, as extensive changes to the station’s infrastructure could require several months to complete.
In May, Dermac conducted a site survey and provided WPBT with detailed drawings, specifications, permit-ready plans, placement locations for all the new equipment, and a transition schedule to ensure a smooth changeover to the new facility. The station used the site survey data when it submitted FCC Form 399, which is required to claim reimbursements of repack-related expenses from the federal government.
Talley was complemented for providing a “well documented and detailed request” by an engineering consulting firm hired by the FCC to review applications. “A lot of that was due to the team of Dermac Group and Rohde & Schwarz working with our internal team,” he noted. “Rohde & Schwarz was there for me throughout the initial process, is continuing to work with me today, and will be there through the completion of the project.”
As part of its repack transition, WPBT will be replacing its aging Harris Broadcast IOT transmitter with a Rohde & Schwarz liquid-cooled THU9evo. Talley said the solid-state transmitter is more efficient than WPBT’s old tube transmitter, and that efficiency will translate to significant power savings. The station’s upgrades also include a new antenna with vertical polarization (V-pol), which will help WPBT deliver its signal to mobile devices when ATSC 3.0 is adopted.
“Most stations, even beyond smaller markets, have limited resources,” explained Erik Balladares, director of Broadcast & Media Division, Rohde & Schwarz USA. “They simply don’t have the manpower to handle the extra workload required by the FCC repack. Through our partnership with Dermac Group, Rohde & Schwarz offers a turnkey solution that keeps your transition on track, maximizes your budget, and leads to faster FCC reimbursement.”