GatesAir and Pinnacle Communications Accelerate Nigerian Digital Switchover Initiative

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, and channel partner Pinnacle Communications Limited have completed the plan for phase two of a multi-stage digital TV (DTV)  transition in Nigeria. Having covered 100 percent of the Abuja municipality, the second phase will extend coverage to 95 percent of the population in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria.

The DVB-T2 system today delivers 30 national and up to six local channels of high-quality news, information and entertainment to FCT residents – as many as 200 free over-the-air channels are anticipated – with GatesAir high-efficiency ULXTE liquid-cooled transmitters powering all over-the-air DTV content delivery. Comprehensive national coverage will eventually reach more than 50 million viewing homes and approximately 170 million people in 36 Nigerian states and the FCT, with a complete national digital switchover targeted for December 2021.

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GatesAir CEO Bruce Swail demonstrates a GatesAir transmitter to Pinnacle Communications’ Senior Advisor for Military Communications, General Chris Jemitola, at the Quincy manufacturing center during the delegation tour.

As the licensed signal distributor for Nigeria, Pinnacle Communications is working diligently to plan future expansions of the service. This includes the rollout of low-power transmitters and gap fillers to fill out the terrestrial black spots in the FCT region and Kaduna state before moving onto other states. Pinnacle Communications will leverage GatesAir’s expanded range of lower power systems, which GatesAir took ownership of following its recent acquisition of ONEtastic.

“We have invested exclusively in GatesAir TV, AM and FM transmitters since 1998 because of their high quality and unmatched resilience, and will continue to do so because their range of high-efficiency transmission solutions will address low-power requirements,” said Sir Lucky Omoluwa, Chairman and CEO, Pinnacle Communications. “GatesAir also continues to impress with accelerated deliveries for our most important projects. We have deployed GatesAir transmitters for several locations with emergency turnarounds, and those plug-and-play installations remain reliably operational today.”

GatesAir remains the leading supplier for DTV transitions in Africa. In addition to Nigeria, GatesAir has supported challenging DTV transitions in Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda. The scale of the Nigerian digital switchover is perhaps the most impressive, as an overwhelming majority of the expansive Nigerian population relies exclusively on free, over-the-air TV. It is estimated that about five percent of households in Nigeria receive television from PayTV services.

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GatesAir CEO Bruce Swail offers a local gift to Pinnacle Communications’ Chairman and CEO Sir Lucky Omoluwa following a partnership signing.

“The Nigerian digital switchover will be the largest initiative of its kind in Africa, not to mention Europe, when it reaches its conclusion,” said Bruce Swail, CEO, GatesAir. “Upon completion, the immense scale of this system will serve as an impressive blueprint for any broadcaster strategizing a complex, national DTV transition. We are proud to be associated with a such a challenging and rewarding project taking shape in the heart of Africa, with the entirety of the system built and developed by Nigerians.”

GatesAir welcomed Pinnacle’s executive team to its Quincy, Illinois manufacturing center in late August. The visit included a facility tour and overview of GatesAir’s next-generation transmitter designs, which will at once improve coverage, enhance signal quality, and reduce operating costs – notably, energy bills and systems maintenance – over the lifetime of the system. Pinnacle Communications Limited Executive Director, Dipo Onifade; Lead Broadcast Technical Consultant, Yomi Bolarinwa; and Senior Advisor for Military Communications, General (RTD) Chris Jemitola were among those joining Sir Lucky Omoluwa for the visit. Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore and top executives from the Quincy Chamber of Commerce were on hand to receive the delegation.

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Pinnacle Communications and GatesAir executives from L to R: Senior Advisor for Military Communications, General Chris Jemitola (Pinnacle); CEO Bruce Swail (GatesAir); Chairman and CEO Sir Lucky Omoluwa (Pinnacle); Lead Broadcast Technical Consultant, Yomi Bolarinwa (Pinnacle); Executive Director, Dipo Onifade (Pinnacle); Managing Director, EMEA and India, Andy McClelland (GatesAir); President and Managing Director, International, Rich Redmond (GatesAir).

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GatesAir to Unveil Expanded TV Transmission Product Family

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, will unveil a broadened family of TV transmitters at IBC2019 resulting from the company’s recent acquisition of ONEtastic, operating forward as GatesAir S.r.l. in Brescia, Italy. The expanded portfolio both strengthens GatesAir’s low-power TV range and introduces several engineering innovations that will be new to GatesAir customers. GatesAir exhibits at Stand 8.D60 from September 13-17 at the RAI Conference and Exhibition Center in Amsterdam.

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While GatesAir has long offered low-power UHF and VHF air-cooled solutions through its Maxiva Compact series, the acquisition fills important power level gaps in the low-to-medium DTV product line. This includes ultra-compact 1RU transmitters at six power levels from 15 to 150 W; 2RU systems up to 400 W; 3RU systems up to 700 W; and 4RU systems up to 1100 W, with all systems available for analog TV.

At IBC, GatesAir will demonstrate the high-efficiency 1RU and 3RU systems, along with a new outdoor pole-mounted DTV solution that can house multiple UHF or VHF transmitters and/or remux up to four satellite feeds into a single transport stream for transmission. The high-efficiency, DC-powered pole-mount design eliminates all moving parts and air filters, dissipating heat to the pole’s surface. The tower becomes the heat sink, eliminating the need for fans and cooling systems — making it a true outdoor solution. The transmitter is completely sealed by a telecom-grade weatherproof enclosure, ensuring continuous operation even in the harshest outdoor elements.

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GatesAir will also show a new “intra-mast” transmitter, designed for installation inside a cylindrical tower. It comprises a very compact chassis which and can house up to six 70 W UHF or VHF transmitters. Each transmitter can also be individually configured as a transposer or on-channel gap filler, offering customers a broad variety of options to fulfill all requirements for regional and national networks.

“GatesAir is extraordinarily positioned to equip today’s largest national DTV networks with complete, fully integrated solutions,” said Bruce Swail, CEO, GatesAir. “These networks require a significant number of transposers and gap fillers to address challenging coverage areas, especially in the valleys that experience blockage from hills and mountainous terrain. Our expanded product range also brings clever design philosophies that introduce new time- and cost-saving benefits to our customers, strengthening our ability to deliver high-efficiency, high-performance, and competitively-priced transmission solutions.”

These new design innovations and feature sets to the GatesAir transmitter family include no-cable, plug-in architectures that accelerate assembly and maintenance, reduce clutter and maintenance, and increase system reliability. Furthermore, these transmitters expand configuration options with extensive modularity, including plug-in input cards to support satellite reception, ASI, IP and other transport streams.

GatesAir will also demonstrate its existing range of medium-to-high power ULXTE (liquid-cooled) and UAXTE (air-cooled) transmitter families. These transmitters, along with the expanded low-power range, including cutting-edge echo cancellation and optimized modulation error ratio (MER) technologies that far outperform competitive solutions. The two technologies deliver a more robust broadcast signal for viewers, providing better reception in regions with challenging terrain.

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ADTH to Debut Latest Broadcast Media Access, Security and Targeted Advertising Solutions at Broadcast Asia 2019

Atlanta DTH (ADTH) celebrates its 25th anniversary at the June 18th through 20th Broadcast Asia 2019 show in Singapore with five new and enhanced product offerings: ADTH Tolka CAS conditional access system; ADTH Tolka Watermark forensic content protection; ADTH Tolka Target Ad delivery; ADTH Tolka DGI 1012 miniature plug-in DTTV receiver; ADTH Tolka Media+Social platform.

ADTH Tolka Target Ad system overview

All five will be demonstrated on the the company’s show booth, 4Q2-06.

ADTH Tolka CAS conditional access system

The Tolka CAS conditional access system offers pay-TV businesses efficient and highly secure protection for real time and offline content. Broadcasters and TV operators gain the ability to expand their services, offer more convenient payment methods and achieve greater control over content ownership. Integrating easily into existing infrastructure, Tolka CAS supports IP, terrestrial, cable, satellite, mobile and hybrid networks. It fully protects content ownership as well as subscriber rights.

Tolka CAS comes in two forms, Grand and Petite, providing two levels of security and convenience. Tolka CAS Grand is a hardware-based system which can be configured as a standalone traditional solution employing secure chip technology plus full headend support to prevent piracy. This configuration can be deployed as a primary CAS or used in simulcrypt applications. Tolka CAS Petite is a software-based variant which can be configured to operate as a secure bridge. It provides content security between the set-top box and smart devices which are allowed access within a home network environment.

Tolka CAS is regularly updated and evolved to remain proof against evolving security threats. Both versions offer broadcasters and TV operators the highest level of control over their content by integrating with Tolka’s watermarking technology, guaranteeing content security even during viewing of pre-recorded or offline programs.

Tolka CAS can operate in conjunction with multi-room and multi-screen environments, sending encrypted content to multiple devices within a home network and delivering the content to multiple network services. For mobile or tablet devices, Tolka CAS acts through a central subscription in the home to monitor content viewing from multiple devices.

ADTH Tolka Watermark forensic content protection

ADTH Tolka Watermark provides robust and efficient safeguarding of creative content against revenue loss arising from illegal sharing, copying or redistribution. This goes beyond the capabilities of conditional access and digital rights management systems where protection stops once viewing access is granted.

The system is based on four component elements: A Tolka Watermark server with internet access, Tolka Watermark set-top boxes, a Tolka Player and a Tolka analysis workstation which checks content and identifies each watermark in the return path. Watermarking analysis and decoding are performed as a cloud-based supporting service which identifies any playout devices associated with illegal use of protected content. Warning or blackout functions can be activated automatically in those devices.

Running on a dedicated server incorporating the ADTH-patented Digital Signature Engine, Tolka Watermark generates and inserts a digital identifier specific to each customer’s set-top box viewing interface. Each digital signature is encrypted securely and invisibly within the transmitted content.

If suspected content is identified as an illegal copy made from a device on a direct-to-home operator’s network, Tolka Watermark can match the associated content with the unique signature associated with each Tolka Player.

ADTH Tolka Target Ad delivery

ADTH Tolka Target Ad is a cost-effective way for network operators to customise branding, deliver messages and serve the right advertisements to the right people at the right time. View-specific profiles are based on patterns of operation measured by Tolka Target Ad-ready set-top-boxes, Tolka Social+Media, the Tolka Player or other Tolka Target Ad-ready players. Based on these profiles, the devices can display custom live or cached content. When used in conjunction with Tolka Content Insertion, custom advertisements can be inserted into live or VOD content. The inserted advertisements can be selected automatically or selected manually.

ADTH Tolka DGI 1012 miniature plug-in DTTV receiver

ADTH Tolka DGI 1012 is a cost-effective dongle configured with a digital terrestrial demodulator. When used with a paired app, the dongle enables viewing of digital terrestrial television transmissions on smart devices. Network operators can now offer customers free-to-air or pay-TV directly on their mobile devices without extensive infrastructure changes. The receiver can decode HD or SD video encoded with MPEG-2 and MPEG-4/H.264. The DGI 1012 can decode transport streams, including conditional access content, along with multi-format audio and video. The DGI 1012 is compatible with conditional access systems to permit the viewing of secured digital terrestrial transmissions.

ADTH Tolka Media+Social platform

The ADTH Tolka Media+Social solution integrates various media sources (DTT/OTT/IPTV) and intuitive real-time messaging, allowing family, friends and people with shared-interests to chat while viewing video content. The solution can be used on Android, iOS and Tolka Media+Social-ready set-top boxes. Tolka Media+Social solution can integrate media content from ADTH DTT solutions such as DTV sticks and set-top boxes. Content can be protected by various ADTH security solutions, including CA, DRM and watermarking. It is also possible to integrate the ADTH Target Ad solution. Users can communicate across platforms, between set-top boxes and between smart devices. If the set-top boxes have an integrated camera and microphone, it is possible to see and communicate with friends. The solution has no geographic restrictions and can be used to achieve free global in-house communications via an operator’s network.

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Dielectric Combines Multiple Repacked UHF Broadcasters into Common RF Architecture

As Dielectric builds on its market-leading share of US repack antenna business, the company celebrates the launch of a unique ATSC 3.0-ready multi-channel combiner and waveguide switching system installed at DTV Utah’s community TV transmission facility. Dielectric won the challenging multi-station repack project because of the quick turnaround of a complex system that met all size and performance specifications, including mask requirements on three adjacent channels in the system, resulting in a clean signal for each of the stations.

DTV Utah is the owner and operator of the facility, which houses transmission systems for nine Salt Lake City-area stations. Eight stations, six of which were repacked to new channel assignments, broadcast from specialized multi-channel antennas (two main and one backup). James and James Consulting managed the project, including the design, integration, and commissioning of the Dielectric system. The owner of the consultancy, Greg James, was a former director of engineering for one of the repacked stations (KSL-DT) and intimately involved with the original DTV Utah facility design.

“The DTV Utah site is an interesting mix of public, commercial and independent stations, most of which operate on a common antenna system that changed with the repack,” said James. “The site is located 3500 feet above average ground level (9050 feet above sea level) and transmits across the challenging Wasatch Front terrain, north and south of Salt Lake City, with specialized antennas built for the original system in 1999. We had no way to retune the RF system for all these newly repacked channels, which meant we had to replace the combiner system. Dielectric was the one vendor who could meet all of the challenging requirements across timeline, technical specifications and within space limitations.”

Available space was particularly important, given that the previous combiner — also a Dielectric system — had to remain operable during the transition. The old combiner system and mask filters were located in the ceiling of the building, and could not be removed. This inspired Dielectric to innovate its most compact combiner to date.

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Dielectric DTV Utah Combiner Channel Systems

“We had a 17×20-foot space for a tenth transmitter that wasn’t installed, and Dielectric designed a 14×16-foot system that could combine all of our channels and leave room for the tenth transmitter,” said James. “Of most importance, we had to install the combiner before integrating the new repack transmitters. Dielectric was the only company that could deliver such a complex system, and on time.”

“The technical challenges were also substantial,” according to James. “The three adjacent channels required sharply tuned filters, allowing the full use of each channel’s bandwidth. While the group delay measurement is increased slightly from a more broadly tuned filter, the new GatesAir and Rhode & Schwarz transmitters in the facility provide the necessary correction, making the group delay at the channel edge negligible.”

In addition to the RF, Dielectric provided the waveguide switching on the combiner’s input, allowing for various combinations of main and backup antennas.

“The switching network was complex and had to fit into a small space,” said James. “Dielectric designed a new compact waveguide switch for our requirement. The combiner is not trivial, because switching between three antennas across any combination of transmitters is very complicated to achieve. The performance across all transmitters and antennas is optimized and adaptable to any condition. Overall, the system that was installed and commissioned by Marsand, Inc., offers a very sound and high-performance solution to a very unique operating environment.”

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Dielectric Designs VHF Antenna System for Sutro Tower Repack Project in Compliance with Stringent Earthquake Code

As a leading maker of innovative TV/FM broadcast antennas, Dielectric has completed the design of a technically complex, stacked antenna array for San Francisco DTV broadcasters KGO-TV and KRON-TV. The stacked array—a specialty of Dielectric’s—is slated for installation later this year atop Sutro Tower in downtown San Francisco.

KGO-TV, the market’s ABC owned-and-operated affiliate currently broadcasting on VHF channel 7 will be repacked to channel 12. KRON-TV, the Nexstar Media Group-owned MyNetworkTV affiliate now broadcasting on UHF Channel 38 (Virtual Channel 4) will be repacked to channel 7, once vacated by KGO.

Dielectric THV Series directional pylon antennas have been customized to each station’s unique needs. The stacking of KGO’s antenna on top of KRON’s required a careful design process to factor in earthquake compliance and other critical, environmental considerations.

“This is one of our most complex repack antenna designs, in large part due to the strict earthquake code that applies to antennas installed in the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Keith Pelletier, vice president and general manager, Dielectric. “Our mechanical engineering team also ensured that KRON’s antenna could support the weight of KGO’s antenna. These design considerations called for a grade of steel that is much thicker and stronger than that which is customary for antenna construction. By design, the stack will be capable of handling the extra weight, and compliant with all earthquake restrictions.”

According to Pelletier, the final designs are currently being reviewed by a third-party structural engineering firm in San Francisco to ensure that they meet the earthquake code. The antenna array will then be constructed during the second quarter of 2019.

“Sutro Tower is scheduled for Phase 9, which means that the installation must be completed by May 2020,” said Pelletier. “We will be ready to ship in June of this year, and install the system by the end of 2019. This will ensure that the new stacked array is up and running before the strict repack deadline.”

Challenging Installation Planned

The stacked antenna array will be affixed to one of the three “candelabra” arms extending from the top of 977-foot tall Sutro Tower. In order to meet the earthquake code the stacked array is being reinforced with guy wires which are anchored at the top of the candelabra platforms. Dielectric specializes in tower top and tower stacks but the guy wire requirement is unique to Sutro Tower. The installation grows trickier given the densely-packed downtown residential neighborhood and busy streets surrounding the tower – a job that only a handful of specialized tall tower crews can accommodate.

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Each station chose to customize top-mount (slotted coaxial) designs to avoid possible interference between the antennas and the tower that could affect radiated patterns and power levels. Pelletier notes that the design offers the industry’s lowest windload – yet another critical consideration for this project.

Dielectric will also supply its auxiliary antenna (TLSV series) antenna, as part of an effective strategy to ensure a clean repack process with no off-air time.

“Since KGO is already operating in the VHF band, we will install an auxiliary antenna lower down on the tower that allows them to operate on channel 7,” Pelletier said. “That frees up the tower top and allows us to install KRON and KGO new antennas on top of the tower and allows KGO to remain on the air. Once that’s completed, KGO can move to its permanent antenna on top and Sutro Tower will remain outfitted with an auxiliary VHF antenna.”

Pelletier adds that as many as 50 of the 900 TV stations that Dielectric is assisting with repack have selected Dielectric’s stacked antenna array designs, which he calls a “Dielectric-developed specialty.” Dielectric will demonstrate its range of VHF repack antennas, including the THV Series, at the forthcoming 2019 NAB Show from April 8-11 in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Dielectric exhibits at Booth C2213.

GatesAir Expands EMEA Sales Force with Appointment of Alexander Kurz

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, continues to bolster its EMEA sales team with appointment of broadcast industry veteran Alexander Kurz. Reporting to Andy McClelland, Managing Director, EMEA and India, Kurz will work closely with the broader EMEA sales and business development team to increase market share and raise brand awareness in the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region. He will also cover most European countries and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries south and east to the Ukrainian and Russian borders.

Kurz brings more than 20 years of industry experience to his new role, with extensive expertise guiding customers through digital TV transitions. He joins GatesAir from NeuLion, where he helped over-the-air broadcasters and PayTV providers distribute and monetize OTT content to complement existing TV services. Kurz also has more than 15 years of experience in the test and measurement field with Ineoquest and Tektronix, where he regularly supplied customized quality assurance solutions for DTV headend and transmission systems.

Kurz sees tremendous opportunity for GatesAir to capture regional market share for TV and radio systems with its high-efficiency Maxiva and Flexiva transmitters, emphasizing the changing habits of video consumption and the staying power of radio as a medium.

“Many of these countries have moved from analog to DVB-T digital television, and we see enormous opportunity to transition these systems to the more bandwidth-efficient DVB-T2 standard,” said Kurz. “Such transitions are growing increasingly attractive to broadcasters in this region as more viewers cut the cord, and move to OTA and OTT for television. GatesAir has the ideal technology to transition our customers to DVB-T2 with incremental upgrades that prevent disruption to existing over-the-air operations, and deliver the improved bandwidth efficiency and performance capabilities that will enable richer, higher quality DTV services.”

Kurz adds that radio remains strong throughout the region, noting a healthy demand for renewed FM infrastructure and a desire to leverage IP networks for audio contribution and distribution.

“There is an FM radio in every household and new car, and we see burgeoning opportunities for DAB Radio driven by government mandates and a thirst for stronger audio services,” he said. “In addition, GatesAir’s Intraplex networking products will help broadcasters transition to IP-based transport methods, while retaining the resiliency and reliability of traditional transport and delivery methods.”

Kurz will also work closely with EMEA Business Development Manager Peter Timmons to support regional roadshows, customer visits and partner training sessions.

“Alexander’s depth of broadcast experience and regional knowledge, including strong customer relationships that he has solidified over more than two decades, makes him the ideal person to strengthen GatesAir’s visibility and market share in the DACH and eastern European regions,” said Rich Redmond, President and Managing Director, International for GatesAir. “We are excited to welcome him to the team as we continue to expand our presence throughout EMEA and other international regions.”

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GatesAir Wins National Ivory Coast Digital TV Transition Contract

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio broadcasters, continues its long-standing business relationship with the Republic of Ivory Coast through a turnkey equipment and services contract to support the African country’s national digital TV (DTV) network. The first phase consists of seven transmitter sites to cover the city of Abidjan and the next six largest cities, with the Abidjan site providing DTV services to 30 percent of the country. The subsequent six sites will expand DTV services to approximately 80 percent of the country, with 100 percent coverage expected by 2020.

The turnkey equipment package for phase one includes 21 GatesAir Maxiva UAXTE air-cooled, high-efficiency UHF transmitters in redundant configurations to ensure a continuous on-air presence. Each of the seven sites includes three transmitters along with DVB-T2 headend equipment, antennas and towers, and can support three programming multiplexes (one government, and two private). The government multiplex, featuring seven channels of programming, is now on the air, with the private multiplexes to follow. Each multiplex will deliver multiple channels of DTV programming and rich data services, including electronic program guides.

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The Ivory Coast DVB-T2 network is GatesAir’s ninth DTV transition project in Africa, strengthening its position as the market-leading over-the-air vendor on the continent. GatesAir has recently supported transitions in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda. GatesAir’s success in managing these transitions, including adherence to challenging delivery timelines, was essential to securing the contract. GatesAir’s strong customer service reputation, high-efficiency transmission technology, and global leadership in complex, national DTV transitions also played substantial roles in the decision.

“The digital transition is very important for the Ivorian population as it opens the television space more than ever before,” said Bruno N’Doua, Director of Studies and Development, Société Ivoirienne de Télédiffusion (IDT). “These populations will now have the option to watch seven channels to start, whereas before there were only two channels available. This will change the viewing habits of Ivorians, and is a major step forward in the liberalization of the audiovisual space. This is not the first time the Ivory Coast has worked with GatesAir. They were formerly known as Harris, and their transmitters have helped us provide high-quality distribution of TV programs for at least 15 years. Therefore, we already knew the robustness of GatesAir equipment, and it is an immense pleasure to work with GatesAir again.”

The selection of GatesAir’s Maxiva UAXTE transmitters will provide several performance benefits and long-term cost savings for IDT. The UAXTE’s high-efficiency design (based on GatesAir’s PowerSmart Plus architecture) will reduce utility bills network-wide — a substantial operational benefit given Ivory Coast’s high electricity costs. Maintenance is simplified through the transmitter’s modular design, which allows IDT’s engineering team to use common, spare parts across the entire network. Dual power supplies, hot-swappable PA modules and other PowerSmart Plus design attributes further strengthen on-air reliability.

GatesAir partnered with African Union Communications for headend systems, and with regional partner STA, based in the Ivory Coast, for towers, antennas and transmission shelters. GatesAir will also work closely with STA across all installation, commissioning and ongoing maintenance services, as well as training, service and support initiatives.

“GatesAir will bring nearly 100 years of global over-the-air broadcast expertise to support Ivory Coast’s national DTV transition, and deliver exceptional picture quality with reliable service to the population,” said Bruce D. Swail, CEO, GatesAir. “We will also ensure the lowest total cost of ownership to IDT through reduced energy consumption, streamlined maintenance, and local service and support. We thank IDT and the Republic of Ivory Coast for trusting in GatesAir, and look forward to supporting future DTV transitions throughout Africa.”

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