Defense Dept Taps SBE to Coordinate Frequencies Common to Broadcasters

Over the past several years, the Society of Broadcast Engineers has worked with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), which has been provided co-primary status with broadcasters in the 2025-2110 MHz Broadcast Auxiliary Spectrum (BAS) band as a result of the Advanced Wireless Services-3 (AWS-3) transition.

The DoD plans to deploy a number of training systems that utilize this spectrum it now shares with broadcasters. The SBE, DoD and the National Association of Broadcasters have discussed how broadcasters use this spectrum and its importance for electronic news gathering. It became clear to DoD officials that to operate their defense systems without causing or receiving interference, a substantial, national frequency coordination effort would need to be initiated, providing in some cases, near-real-time coordination. The DoD turned to the SBE for assistance.

The SBE has for many years facilitated a network of volunteer frequency coordinators, most through local SBE chapters, across the United States and its territories.

The systems the DoD intends to deploy potentially may be located at installations of all the military branches, including the Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves. These installations are ubiquitous and located in both urban and rural areas. The DoD, with encouragement from the NAB, asked the SBE to employ a national frequency coordinator, paid for with DoD funds, who would work with our established volunteer coordinators, and cover the areas that don’t have their own local coordinator.

Through the DoD’s primary contractor in this area, Alion Science and Technology, the SBE has entered an agreement to provide national frequency coordination services that will mutually serve the needs of the DoD and broadcasters. The SBE Board of Directors approved the agreement in April of this year and work began in June.

To handle the added responsibilities, the SBE retained the broadcast consulting firm of Technical Broadcast Solutions, Inc., (TBSI) of Middletown, DE. Its principal is RJ Russell, CPBE, a 20-year member of the SBE and, until recently, SBE national vice president and chair of our Frequency Coordination Committee. TBSI is heavily involved in TV repack and ATSC 3.0 implementation work for clients and is taking on the SBE as a major client to serve as our national SBE Frequency Coordination Manager (FCM). Russell and SBE General Counsel Chris Imlay have worked on the SBE’s behalf with DoD officials and the NAB to develop a workable solution for this shared spectrum.

On taking on this important project, SBE President Jim Leifer, CPBE, said, “Part of the SBE’s mission is to create working alliances within the broadcast industry and with those who work in our space. Entering into this agreement serves to protect broadcaster’s use of spectrum and provides a needed service to our government. I am pleased that we are able to partner with the DoD’s prime contractor in this effort.”

Embrace and extend your inner introvert

The contrast between my extroverted social worker wife and my introverted engineer self could not be made more clear than when one of us travels, leaving the other behind. When I leave, she goes on outings with her friends. When she leaves, I find myself reading or experimenting with radios and computers. 

The broadcasting technology world is quietly run by introverts like you and me. We tinkered with radios as teens, showed up at a local radio or TV station and eventually took a job caring for the equipment while others pursued the more social aspects of sales, news, and promotions. 

While technical introverts should feel no shame in embracing our lonely preferences, I recommend taking inventory of how your behavior may be limiting your career and ultimately a more full life. If you are not networking with other engineers, vendors, and broadcast managers, you are in danger of being left in the cold when looking for a new job, in line for a promotion, hiring help, or attracting clients as an independent consultant. 

You may not feel the need to build relationships when you have a long-time relationship with your present employer, but to do so is dangerous to your career. I’ve observed conditions change radically for well-respected engineers when employers review their budgets and decide that an engineer is suddenly deemed too expensive, or they decide to outsource. As a consultant, what if your client decides to cut you in favor a newer, less-expensive engineer?

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is the management team you answer to aware of all of your station improvement initiatives? 
  • Do you know what your colleagues in sales or news do when they are away from the station?
  • Are you attending SBE meetings to network with your colleagues? 
  • When you do attend an SBE meeting, do you make it a point to introduce yourself with a smile and ask questions of a previously unfamiliar attendee? 
  • Do you volunteer as a leader for your local SBE chapter, scout troop, or as a mentor for a young person learning your trade?
  • Do you spend uninterrupted, quality time with your key vendors, sharing information about your goals so that they can keep you in mind when another client needs technical help?
  • Are you spending time with friends and family away from technology?

I recommend you push away from your big, comfy computer desk chair and get out a bit. Break through your comfort zone and over time–trust me–you will reap great benefits.

Gary Stigall, CPBE

SBE Board Member

Gary’s views do not reflect those of the SBE, or its Board of Directors.

What education are you looking for in the coming year?

As I plan the webinars and courses SBE would like to offer in the coming year,  I thought what better way to find out what our members would like to know more about than to ask them!

Next year we are planning to release a systems integration course, an advanced course on computer networking,  several webinars on IP networking, and a webinar on FCC enforcement actions.  Comment on this post to let us know what else you would like offered in the way of a webinar, online course, or live seminar. You can leave your comment by clicking on the bubble to the right of the title.

Kimberly Kissel, SBE Education Director

SBE members serve Republican National Convention

Paul and Blake Republican National Convention

Paul Kempter, CPBE and Blake Hawkins, CPBE of SBE Chapter 39 volunteer during the Republican National Convention. The 2012 convention was held August 27-30 in Tampa, Fla.

By: John Collinson, CPBE, CBNT, 8-VSB, AMD and Paul Kempter, CPBE

Tampa Bay Chapter 39 served an important function as the City of Tampa hosted the Republican National Convention August 27-30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Under the leadership of nationally known engineers Louis Libin, (member of Chapter 15) and Howard Fine (member of  Chapter 47), eight Tampa area broadcast engineers teamed up to register and tag hundreds of wireless devices coming into the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the convention was held.  Paul Kempter of Chapter 39 chaired the Enforcement Committee, which included handling logistics for all the other local coordinators before and throughout the entire convention.  FCC personnel from Washington, Michigan and the local Tampa office were also involved.  This venue had four major entrances that had to be covered simultaneously, and eight floors to search for non-coordinated equipment.

The major networks also sent RF personnel to oversee their own operations, including Ray Benedict, CPBE a member of SBE Chapter 37.

Approximately 2000 requests were received for 140 available wireless mike frequencies; 1400 requests were granted thanks to a 23 page Special Temporary Authority granted by the FCC.  Those with coordinated frequencies were cleared to use them and tagged appropriately.  The vast majority (over 800) who did not have allocations were tagged for identification and carefully instructed not to use their equipment.  NBC gave the team dozens of mic cables to loan to those not prepared to turn off wireless.  Some crews arrived with equipment on frequencies in the U.S. cellular bands and one tried to use a local sheriff’s office two-way frequency; not a wise idea!

As a result of these efforts only one incident of any consequence occurred and only on one night.  On the intense closing night there were no major issues at all.  Without all the preparatory efforts there is no doubt chaos would have ensued with hundreds of wireless transmitters inside one hall.

SBE Chapter 39 participating members included: Paul Kempter, CPBE, enforcement chair; Ed Allen, CBT; George Becht; John Collinson, CPBE, CBNT, 8-VSB, AMD; Michael Galik, CBTE, CBT, CBNT; Steve Hess, CPBE, CBNT; Blake Hawkins, CPBE; Bob Shotwell, CPBE (Chapter 14 member).

Another SBE Chapter 39 member Mark Schaefer, CBTE, arranged parking space for the volunteers in his company’s parking garage near the venue, a huge help in a crowded downtown area.

Other volunteers who assisted the coordination effort included: Alice Becht, Andrew Becht, Jim Cannon, Mildred Hawkins and Gary Reinhardt.