Dielectric, the broadcast industry’s premier manufacturer of TV and FM broadcast antenna systems, recently welcomed Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to its repack antenna facility in Lewiston, Maine. Chairman Pai was greeted by Andy Whiteside, President and Keith Pelletier, Vice President and General Manager with a brief discussion of Dielectric’s 75 year history of service to the broadcast industry. The Chairman than met with key Dielectric executives, followed by a guided tour of the facility and repack production operation.
Since opening its doors in December 2017, Dielectric’s Lewiston location has exclusively focused on production of UHF antennas and systems for TV broadcasters migrating to new channel assignments. Dielectric’s leadership in repack orders and deliveries is unquestioned, with the company announcing its 500th repack antenna booking last week, and having already shipped over 200 antennas and systems to broadcasters.
Chairman Pai saw roughly 25 high-power TV antennas in various stages of assembly and testing during the tour. Highlights included in-progress assemblies of the TFU-WB, a cost-efficient, multi-channel, broadband UHF antenna that offers broadcasters a seamless transition to new channel assignments. Also among the antennas on site was a 25,000-pound TV antenna awaiting shipment to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.
“Since this was Chairman Pai’s first visit, we took the opportunity to familiarize him with our accomplishments, starting with the leadership role we played during our nation’s digital TV transition,” said Pelletier. “We then highlighted how Dielectric is designing, building, and shipping a record number of antenna systems to serve the historic, national spectrum repack initiative.”
Chairman Pai took an interest in the TFU-WB antenna, as it has played an important role in accelerating spectrum clearance.
“Dielectric is in a unique position to gather information from on-going site installations. We expressed our concern to Chairman Pai that a significant number of installations have already been delayed as broadcasters and rigging crews encounter the technical, structural, logistical and weather problems typical of these projects,” said Whiteside.
“As a side-mounted, easily installed, auxiliary antenna solution, the TFU-WB offers broadcasters nationwide a strategy to vacate their legacy channel positions,” Jay Martin, Vice President of Sales added. “It gives tower crews time to prepare for the typically more complex and time-consuming main antenna installation, along with transmission line.”
“Chairman Pai was clearly intrigued with the complex and unique nature of each antenna system, and the lengths we go to make sure our antennas and brand meet broadcaster expectations,” said Pelletier. “He also seemed extremely interested in the technology we’ve developed to enable ATSC 3.0 for next-generation television, which is a particularly hot topic right now. We have provided RF equipment to just about all the current ATSC 3.0 projects on-going throughout the country, and we hope that US broadcasters will quickly embrace the opportunities of the new standard to develop robust business models for broadcasting’s future,” added Pelletier.
The Dielectric team also detailed how they continue to work with broadcasters to meet their challenging spectrum repack commitments, including those that have agreements with T-Mobile to free spectrum early by vacating their current channels ahead of the FCC repack schedule.
“We at Dielectric were extremely proud to welcome Chairman Pai and demonstrate our contribution and commitment to the multi-year spectrum repack and forthcoming ATSC 3.0 transition,” said Whiteside. “Our doors are always open to the Chairman, the Commissioners and their staff,” added Pelletier.