GatesAir Transmitter To Bring NextGen TV To DC

The transmission supplier is partnering with Howard University’s WHUT and Pearl TV to power ATSC 3.0 services for five stations in the nation’s ninth largest TV market.

GatesAir, a global provider of wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio, has joined forces with Pearl TV and Howard University to bring NextGen TV service to Washington, D.C., this fall.

GatesAir will ship a Maxiva ULXTE-50 UHF transmitter to Howard University’s WHUT-TV in preparation for an October launch, forming the nucleus of the public broadcaster’s new ATSC 3.0 transmission facility.

WHUT, a PBS member station, will serve as the host station for the collaborative effort, using the high-power, liquid-cooled GatesAir transmitter to carry NextGen TV signals from WHUT and four local commercial broadcast network affiliates.

GatesAir says WHUT “brings several compelling advantages as a lighthouse station, including a prime location in the city that will maximize market reach.” Howard University’s academic resources and educational initiatives will add value to the cooperative effort taking shape in D.C.

These include a Media Technology Innovation Learning Lab that, in cooperation with NAB, was formed to drive industry collaboration and develop new NextGen TV services. Working closely with NAB, Howard University is also the only learning institution in the United States to offer a dedicated NextGen TV seminar series, which is an educational platform for next-generation engineering talent. This important initiative gives students a chance to be on the ground level of NextGen TV development for the Washington service.

WJLA (ABC), WUSA (CBS), WTTG (Fox) and WRC (NBC) will join WHUT in the delivery of HD programming and standard-definition subchannels (including the PBS Kids service) from the GatesAir transmitter. The transmitter will also carry new digital and multimedia services supported through the ATSC 3.0 standard.


Sean Plater, WHUT acting general manager, adds that WHUT co-owned WHUR-FM (where Plater is general manager) are longtime GatesAir customers.

“WHUT is testing many of the datacasting concepts that come with NextGen TV, and all four commercial stations are sharing innovative ideas,” Plater said. “WHUT will look to provide internet access to those without broadband internet service, particularly in the Ward 7 and 8 neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.

“All five stations are looking at emergency alerts and interactive services that weren’t before possible with local television. A Howard University student is interning with Pearl TV this summer to help develop a new application, and we hope to involve more students in these development processes over time,” Plater added.

Anne Schelle, managing director, Pearl TV, says that the Washington model exemplifies the spirit of public and commercial broadcasters working together to advance the future of local television. “Washington, D.C., is an interesting market given the large amount of broadcast spectrum sold during the recent incentive auction. This a strong example of public and commercial broadcasters coming together in a collaborative effort to make the most of the market’s available spectrum,” she said. “The commercial stations recognized the challenges that Howard University would have as a lighthouse station and, along with GatesAir and other partnering technology suppliers, played important roles in funding this project.”

In addition to providing the WHUT transmitter, GatesAir will supply installation and commissioning services for its transmitter, which integrates an ATSC 3.0-ready GatesAir Maxiva XTE exciter.

“Pearl TV has built momentum for NextGen TV throughout the United States with strategic launches in nearly 30 markets to date,” said Bruce D. Swail, CEO, GatesAir. “GatesAir is proud to play a key role in a number of Pearl TV’s NextGen TV initiatives, including milestone projects in Phoenix, Seattle and now Washington, D.C. This latest launch is especially significant as it exposes the policymakers of our nation to the exciting features and groundbreaking public service benefits of NextGen TV. We are excited to work closely with Pearl TV and their broadcast and technology partners to bring NextGen TV signals to air in additional markets, and support their cause in bringing cost-effective receivers to market that accelerate consumer interest and adoption.”

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