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 New DAB Radio Innovations

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, has expanded its range of DAB Radio transmitters and solutions to include multi-carrier and liquid-cooled innovations at IBC2019. Many of the new innovations result from the company’s recent acquisition of ONEtastic, known forward as GatesAir S.r.l.

While GatesAir has long offered low-power DAB Radio air-cooled solutions through its Maxiva VAXT and VAXTE product lines, the acquisition introduces several key product innovations that will be new to GatesAir customers. In addition to the multi-carrier and liquid-cooled transmitters, GatesAir will demonstrate new intra-mast and outdoor solutions that can support TV and DAB modulations in the same compact chassis. GatesAir will also unveil an expanded range of air-cooled DAB transmitters to cover all power levels starting at 15W.

The acquisition also brings new design and engineering innovations to GatesAir, including no-cable, plug-in architectures that accelerate assembly and maintenance, reduce clutter and maintenance, and increase system reliability. GatesAir’s latest DAB Radio transmitters also leverage a single-band PA module to cover all Band III frequencies – a unique competitive advantage that eliminates jumpers, tuning and other frequency-related adjustments.

“GatesAir’s experience in equipping today’s largest DAB Radio networks is now further strengthened with a product portfolio that covers a broader range of power levels, and introduces several new design innovations and feature sets to our customers,” said Bruce Swail, CEO, GatesAir. “In addition to fortifying our long-standing message of supplying high-efficiency, cost-reducing and turnkey transmission solutions, our latest design innovations strengthen our overall value proposition for broadcasters and network operators managing DAB networks of any scale.”

New Transmitter Innovations

GatesAir’s MultiD multi-carrier platform brings three DAB transmitters together into a compact 1RU chassis — a unique design attribute that reduces space and equipment costs, and simplifies installation. The multi-carrier architecture removes the need for external RF combining, and instead generates and re-transmits all three channels through a single amplifier. The multi-carrier modulation built into the transmitter supports both adjacent and non-adjacent frequencies, providing a flexible solution for DAB networks of any size. GatesAir will exhibit an operating transmitter, together with a spectrum analyzer display, to demonstrate the optimized performance and flexibility of the MultiD innovation.

GatesAir will also unveil a liquid-cooled VHF Band III power amplifier from its new Maxiva VLXTE range of high-efficiency, liquid-cooled transmitters. Starting at 3 kW, all VLXTE liquid-cooled transmitters cover DAB/DAB+ frequencies from 170-240MHz, with a modular design that support inputs for ETI (coaxial) and EDI (IP) distribution across DAB networks. Maxiva VLXTE transmitters are completely frequency-agile across the Band III spectrum, providing a cost-effective, high-efficiency solution for all N+1 applications. GatesAir’s liquid-cooled architecture also gives customers a cost-efficient solution for all power levels up to 15 kW, with increased cost-savings and ROI as power levels rise.

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GatesAir Liquid Cooled VHF DAB

GatesAir will also demonstrate two flexible transmission platforms with uncommon architectures that can support TV and DAB Radio modulations simultaneously in the same platform:

  • A new outdoor pole-mounted solution sealed by a telecom-grade, weatherproof enclosure that can house multiple low-power DAB Radio transmitters and gap fillers. The DC-powered, pole-mount design eliminates all moving parts and air filters, dissipating heat to the pole’s surface for optimized efficiency and performance.
  • A new “intra-mast” transmitter, designed for installation inside a cylindrical tower that can house up to six 70 W DAB transmitter or gap filler modules.

GatesAir exhibits at Stand 8.D60 from September 13-17 at the RAI Conference and Exhibition Center in Amsterdam.

GatesAir Transitions MediaWorks New Zealand to Uncompressed Audio over IP Networking

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio broadcasters, has transitioned longtime customer MediaWorks, a New Zealand-based television, radio and interactive media company, to an uncompressed Audio over IP networking architecture. The new transport solution keeps all signals in the digital domain and streamlines signal delivery, at once improving audio quality, reducing system complexity, and lowering the costs of live distribution linking across a single-frequency FM radio network (SFN).

Specifically upgrading the transport infrastructure of MediaWorks Radio’s iconic commercial brand, The Sound, the project refines and enhances the delivery of program audio from its studio in Ponsonby, Auckland, to synchronous transmitters on 93.8MHz FM at Auckland’s Sky Tower and Mount Ruru in the Waikato region. GatesAir’s regional channel partner Gencom Technology provided all presales design support, working with GatesAir product specialists and MediaWorks engineers to develop the now-live IP-based configuration.

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Mark Simpson, Account Manager, Transmission and Distribution Systems at Gencom Technology, confirms that migration from a more complex legacy TDM networking infrastructure was the “prime catalyst” for the upgrade. The complete solution leverages Intraplex IP Link MPXp codecs with built-in SynchroCast technology to transport FM baseband and manage local ad insertions across its single-frequency transmission network (SFN), with Flexiva FAX50 exciters to support FM radio signal generation at each transmission site. The modernized design eliminates the need to transport program audio to a separate studio for local ad insertions.

“The migration from older E1 linking technology to IP, while partially prompted by the recent availability of the latter, also enabled simplification of the routing for the Auckland transmitter as it now comes directly from the Auckland studio,” said Simpson. “This eliminates signal drops and vulnerability issues of the legacy architecture, which required Mediaworks to route the Auckland program to Hamilton for local ad insertion. The synchronous performance across the SFN has been outstanding, and Mediaworks reports excellent audio quality and stability from the next-generation Flexiva exciters.”

Ray Smith, Transmission Manager for MediaWorks New Zealand, correlates the audio quality improvements with the flexibility of MPX over IP transport. The IP Link MPXp codecs support AES192 digital signal transport, which minimizes analog-to-digital conversions and positions all audio processing and limiting functions at the studio. The latter removes audio adjustment requirements at the transmitter sites.

“By leveraging AES192, we can maintain high-end digital audio quality throughout the entire chain all the way to the exciter,” said Smith. “Uncompressed MPX over IP transport ensures that the transmitters can be fully modulated without any decibel overshoot generated by compression algorithms. The average audio levels are higher, which means the transmitted signal offers the best possible audio quality that FM radio can offer.”

The SFN covers Auckland City and hilltop site Mount Ruru, which transmits the station’s signal throughout the city of Hamilton and a large portion of the rural Waikato province. Simpson adds that the IP Link MPXp codecs have introduced a “significant cost benefit” across the expansive SFN by transitioning from expensive E1 circuits to IP, with an expected ROI of three to four years.

“Audio over IP adoption continues to accelerate as more broadcasters report on its operational benefits and reliability as a transport platform,” said Rich Redmond, President and Managing Director, International for GatesAir. “We are grateful to report the success of MediaWorks New Zealand’s migration to IP and their anticipated return on investment, as well as the professionalism and technical expertise of our partners at Gencom Technology.”

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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GatesAir Supplies KAKT(FM) with End-to-End HD Radio Solution

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio broadcasters, has helped Stephens Media Group of Medford’s country station KAKT(FM) become the first commercial HD Radio broadcaster in the Medford, Oregon market. The station is now delivering two HD Radio channels alongside its main FM program, using a complete GatesAir HD Radio Gen4 solution with high-efficiency transmission, embedded signal processing, and IP networking gear.

The Stephens Media Group of Medford engineering team worked closely with GatesAir channel partner SCMS to identify a solution that would help launch an HD Radio service while also transitioning to solid-state transmission. KAKT selected a GatesAir Flexiva FAX20 (20kW) air-cooled transmitter, retiring tube transmitters that had grown challenging to service. Klein-White Broadcast Engineering, a full-service design and engineering firm, added value through turnkey installation and commissioning services that brought the new solid-state system to air quickly.

“Solid-state brings a great deal of new maintenance and efficiency benefits over tubes, and spare parts have become expensive and tougher to find,” said Dan Sullivan, Chief Engineer, Stephens Media Group of Medford. “The Flexiva is half the size of our tube transmitter, which reduces cooling requirements and returns a great deal of space in a rather small room. Our new transmitter is very accessible for maintenance, with a plug-and-play, hot-swappable design that will simplify our workload and ensure we can service the transmitter while on the air.”

The FAX20 accommodates the FM, HD1 and HD2 channels, with an HD3 channel to be added in the future. GatesAir’s Flexiva FMXi 4g embedded HD Radio solution provides a single Importer/Exporter to manage the audio and data within Stephens Media Group of Medford’s IT infrastructure. This eliminates the need for separate systems with moving parts, and centralizes all related signal processing and multiplexing.

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The FMXi 4g also time-aligns the analog and digital program audio without the need for a separate modulation monitor or other hardware unit that was required before GatesAir’s innovation. KAKT uses a traditional microwave STL system to transport its FM signal, and GatesAir Intraplex IP Link 200 codecs to network both HD Radio channels over IP. Sullivan adds that the IP Links operate reliably over what he calls “a slow network,” with no obvious signs of packet loss as the program audio moves from the studio to the transmitter site over IP.

“The automatic delay option in the FMXi 4g calculates the diversity delay for analog/digital time alignment, and sends the synchronized signals into our FAX exciter,” said Sullivan. “That alone has saved us a lot of money, and the built-in functionality removes another device from the infrastructure that I would have to manage. The ability to remotely tap into all of these systems has also been useful, and the GUIs on the FAX exciter and transmitter provide clear and important data around PA temperature and other performance parameters.”

Feedback from the Medford community has been positive since launching the new system, particularly in regards to HD Radio audio quality. Sullivan notes that the new transmitter is also covering the market with a much stronger broadcast signal, ensuring that its FM and HD programming reach the largest possible audience.

“KAKT is an ideal example of how a community-oriented, smaller market radio station can cost-efficiently launch new digital services and transition to IP networking on a reasonable budget,” said Ted Lantz, Vice President and General Manager, Radio Product Group for GatesAir. “And with a third HD Radio channel on the way, Stephens Media Group of Medford can focus more on serving their listeners instead of servicing an older transmission system that would continue to escalate operational costs and maintenance. They can now look forward with a high-efficiency architecture that represents revenue growth over complex engineering requirements.”

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GatesAir Integrates Video over IP Support into Intraplex® Ascent Transport Platform

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for radio and TV broadcasters, has added a new application to its Intraplex Ascent transport platform to support reliable and secure video over IP transport alongside audio. The new Ascent SRT Gateway, to be unveiled at IBC2019 (September 13-17, RAI Amsterdam), will especially be useful for broadcasters managing contributed video and/or audio content for point-to-multipoint distribution.

The application’s video support also brings Ascent into the television market, with an exceptional value proposition for national broadcasters feeding many destinations. Ascent will now provide transparent support of any real-time, IP-based broadcast video protocol, with applicability to ATSC 3.0 and DVB-T/T2.

GatesAir introduced Intraplex Ascent as a next-gen Audio over IP platform at the 2019 NAB Show in April. Intraplex Ascent represents an evolution in broadcast and IT convergence, and is GatesAir’s first Intraplex system to live on a COTS x86 server. Ascent provides broadcasters with a highly scalable, redundant and cloud-based transport platform for multichannel contribution and distribution. Designed for centralized control and maximum interconnectivity, Ascent is compliant with the AES67 standard, today’s leading AoIP networking solutions, and most Intraplex Audio over IP codecs.

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Ascent offers two key differentiating factors for IP transport: an ability to manage many Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) streams on a centralized platform, and its integration of GatesAir’s unique Dynamic Stream Splicing (DSS) software. The latter diversifies SRT data across redundant networks, and adds protection against packet losses and network failures.

At IBC2019, GatesAir will demonstrate how the Ascent SRT Gateway supports reliable and encrypted transport of video content both in point-to-point and point-to-multipoint configurations. The addition of DSS software will support duplication of SRT streams with video and embedded audio over separate network paths, leveraging a single stream-splicing buffer for hitless protection against errors and failures.

“Since our new Ascent SRT Gateway application supports stream splicing, we can effectively reduce latency for SRT retransmission, and optimize network redundancy for video distribution,” said Keyur Parikh, Vice President and General Manager, Intraplex Product Group. “This is especially useful for our customers who are distributing real-time video and audio over microwave, fiber and IP connections, and transporting those high-bandwidth streams to multiple studios or transmitter sites.”

Parikh adds that the applications can scale to support more streams and more destinations as needed, with video bandwidth speeds of up to 200 Mb/s at the base level.

“That can include multiple 50 Mb/s streams, or a much larger single stream generated through video encoders or other headend systems,” he said. “The Ascent SRT Gateway application scales very seamlessly with its multi-core hardware platform, opening a broad diversity of media transport applications to support national TV or radio networks.”

The core Intraplex Ascent platform is available in two form factors, each of which supports up to 32 audio channels (AES3, AES67, analog). Both versions will be on display at IBC2019: a 1RU server, with configurable options for physical and AES67 channels; and a software-only solution that operates in a virtualized container. Ascent adds value to broadcasters by removing the need for many separate codecs and auxiliary hardware components at the originating studio or headend. This streamlined architecture frees multiple equipment racks in enterprise-level facilities, simplifying installation and systems management.

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GatesAir to Strengthen NOVA Entertainment’s FM Transmission Infrastructure in Australia

GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio broadcasters, has won a large contract with NOVA Entertainment in Australia to upgrade six FM radio transmission sites within the continent. GatesAir will supply a total of 16 Flexiva FAX air-cooled FM transmitters, with in-country partner RaeAir conducting all site evaluations, installation, commissioning, and post-sales services.

NOVA Entertainment’s national FM footprint first took shape in 2001 with the launch of Nova 96.9 in Sydney, followed by stations in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. The broadcaster will first upgrade these five metropolitan sites, beginning with the Melbourne and Perth locations. NOVA Entertainment will subsequently upgrade the remaining metropolitan sites, followed by a regional location on the NSW Central Coast.

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GatesAir won the contract in large part due to its growing presence in Australia, bolstered by the recent expansion of its in-country sales and support team. NOVA Entertainment also anticipates an attractive return on investment through GatesAir’s high-efficiency transmitter designs, which will reduce annual rental and utility costs at transmission sites.

 “The remarkable compact footprint of GatesAir transmitters will take up substantially less space than our existing transmitters, lowering our monthly expenditures and our long-term total cost of ownership,” said Matt Steadman, Head of Technology, NOVA Entertainment. “We are also confident that GatesAir’s Australian presence, both through direct personnel and their partners at RaeAir, will efficiently guide us through the installation process and ensure excellent post-sales service and support.”

NOVA Entertainment’s FM radio transmission project represents part of a broader strategic initiative that follows a recent upgrade of its studio systems. GatesAir will deliver twelve 10kW and four 20kW models, with redundant transmitter configurations for all five metropolitan sites; and integrated IP-based control and monitoring across the network. NOVA Entertainment will also benefit from streamlined maintenance and the ability to share common spare parts across the network.

“GatesAir and our partners at RaeAir worked closely with the NOVA Entertainment team to develop a strategy that would transition them to a high-efficiency FM infrastructure, and with the greatest possible ROI,” said Rich Redmond, President and Managing Director, International for GatesAir. “The exceptional performance of our Flexiva transmitters will also optimize audio quality and performance for NOVA Entertainment’s number one metropolitan network. We look forward to working closely with their team for many years to come.”

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