News | February 27, 2017

Maine Public Broadcasting Upgrades DTV Network With GatesAir Software-Defined Exciters

Maxiva MX exciters improve statewide signal reception from five transmitter sites, while bolstering FCC compliance and streamlining maintenance routines

To improve state-wide reception of its over-the-air TV signal, Maine Public Broadcasting has upgraded its RF plants network-wide to GatesAir Maxiva M2X exciters. Now installed in all five of its GatesAir transmitters, the Maxiva M2X optimizes the ATSC digital TV signal across all Maine Public Broadcasting VHF and UHF systems while assuring regulatory compliance.

Maine Public Broadcasting has long used GatesAir TV transmitters for its entire network, including WMEA-DT in Biddeford; WCBB-DT in Portland; WMEB in Bangor; WMED in Calais; and WMEM in Presque Isle. Given Maine Public Broadcasting’s broad, largely rural geographical coverage challenges, the investment in new exciter technology ensures that the large majority of its growing over-the-air audience can clearly receive its signal throughout the state.

“As a public broadcaster, we tend to have more cable cutters than most of our peers in commercial television broadcasting,” said Gil Maxwell, vice president and CTO, Maine Public Broadcasting. “Therefore, we are always seeking ways to optimize our over-the-air reception. The Maxiva M2X significantly optimizes the transmission envelope, and also improves the auto-correction capabilities of our GatesAir transmitters. That provides the added benefit of fewer trips to our five transmitter sites, which in most cases are widely dispersed and a long distance from our headquarters.”

GatesAir integrates its patented RTAC software into the Maxiva M2X, providing real-time adaptive correction that at once improves signal quality and mask filtering to maintain FCC compliance. To the former point, Maxwell cites the M2X’s ability to maintain transmitterModulation Error Ratio (MER) and flatten signal-to-noise ratio as two key indicators of each station’s improved performance.

The software-defined M2X also gives Maxwell and his engineering team an easy way to remotely connect to any of the five exciters from any networked location—further reducing site visits and streamlining maintenance schedules.

“We rely on remote access capability and the SNMP traps to gather information around the shape and quality of the transmitted signal,” said Maxwell. “The M2X is also very reliable about reporting errors, so we are immediately informed of a potential module failure or signal quality issue. Because we are so widespread—it is 400 miles from one end of the state to the other—this is a big benefit when it comes to efficient management of our engineering resources.”

Maxwell also notes that installation was straightforward, with no technical support from GatesAir required. Each site upgrade was completed in less than a full business day, beginning with a simple hardware swap and followed by a standard setup procedure to confirm each exciter was configured for the proper signal auto-correction range.

SOURCE: GatesAir, Inc