Tech Talk: T-Mobile extends 600 MHz rollout to over 900 markets

Dear Friends & Colleagues:

As promised, we continue to deliver updates on T-Mobile’s 600 MHz rollout to prepare you for the inevitable RF challenges that will be in your region soon.

So far, T-Mobile says it has deployed its 600 MHz spectrum in more than 900 U.S. cities and towns, 120 of which were not previously served by the carrier. Omaha, Nebraska; Augusta, Maine; and Los Alamos, New Mexico are among the cities served by T-Mobile using its newest low-band spectrum. In addition, T-Mobile says it is deploying 600 MHz LTE throughout Puerto Rico.

Further, in order to accelerate the process of freeing up the spectrum for LTE, T-Mobile has been working with broadcasters occupying 600 MHz spectrum to assist them in moving to their new channel assignments early. This means that the TV Repack may have impact far sooner than many people think. For example, T-Mobile and NBC 5 / KXAS-TV in North Texas partnered to make 600 MHz spectrum available for 4G LTE more than a YEAR EARLY. (read more here).

To quote Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile: “We’re keeping our foot on the gas to add 600 MHz to our LTE network as quickly as possible, giving customers even more capacity and coverage while laying the foundation for 5G.”

Do your homework when making a wireless purchasing decision. Know that time is no longer on our side. We need to make alternative plans for all equipment operating in 600 MHz by the end of 2018.

Feel free to contact me about the benefits of utilizing our UV-1G wireless intercom system, which operates primarily in the VHF band. It is an excellent start to conserving your available UHF bandwidth for use with wireless products that must operate there.

Thank you,

James Stoffo
CTO, Radio Active Designs
jsrfguy@aol.com

Radio Active Designs Debuts CP-1V VHF Antenna

The new CP-1V Circular Polarized Antenna from Radio Active Designs is a leap forward in RF technology that provides end users with a compact (18-inches square) antenna that covers the entire VHF wireless microphone band of 174-216 MHz.

The RF power handling of the CP-1V (5 watts) handles multi-transmitter systems including VHF in-ear monitor systems or a combined IFB system. Its rugged, weather-resistance construction makes it suitable for outdoor use.

“In performance tests, the CP-1V antenna exhibited fewer dropouts and greater overall range compared to an LPDA (log-periodic dipole array) antenna,” explains James Stoffo, CFO, Radio Active Designs. “We are going to begin to see more and more VHF systems in use as the TV repack begins to impact production sites. The CP-1V is a real problem-solver.”

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Photo Cutline: The new Radio Active Designs CP-1V VHF antenna
Photo Download: http://bit.ly/2kNXqOm

Prepare For Loss Of 600MHz By Year’s End

Industry Collegues:

Welcome to Tech Talk. Radio Active Designs is committed to providing timely information about the 600MHz spectrum re-allocation in order to minimize negative impact to wireless microphone and intercom operators across the United States.

Tech Talk will provide you with the information you need to weather the RF storm headed our way.

As you are aware, there is a 39-month transition period allowed for the 600MHz re-allocation, which began in April. However, wireless microphone and intercom operators should be aware that T-Mobile is pursuing an aggressive rollout plan across the country, with the goal of having several markets offering service before the end of the year.

Just as importantly, T-Mobile is already demonstrating their 600MHz services on a small-scale basis (micro-cells) at press events and trade shows. Recently, at one such recent event, they deployed a low power micro-cell for demonstration (without prior notice) and caused significant interference to wireless microphones and related equipment.

Please look at a recent article that was written by Phil Kurt and appeared in TVNewsTech. In the article he interviews Karl Voss, Chief Frequency Coordinator for every Super Bowl since 1996. The article is enlightening.

Karl has been a long-time advocate of proper frequency coordination. During the interview he notes that even television broadcasters are ill prepared. Needless to say, those of us in the professional audio community have good reason to be concerned about our lack of readiness as well.

Wireless operators should be prepared to vacate the 600 MHz band with the exception of the Duplex Gap and Guard bands immediately.  Radio Active Designs is making every effort to obtain T-Mobile roll out information for each region of the country so that wireless operators may prepare. You can find this information on our website, and it is being updated regularly.

Phil Kurt’s full article with Karl Voss is available here. 

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available….

James Stoffe
Radio Active Designs CTO, Principle

 

NBA All Stars A Smooth Operation With Radio Active Designs

New Orleans, Louisiana (April 2017) –- Redhook, New York-based Firehouse Productions utilized Radio Active Design UV1-G wireless intercom systems during the recent NBA All-Star Weekend held at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Four of the new UV1-G base stations and 24 RAD packs provided vital communication between production managers, riggers, special effects, carpenters, screens and automation professionals during the busy weekend. “These are key roles for set changes as well as safety,” explains Vinny Siniscal, wireless communications coordinator for the event. “We need a comm system we can rely on, and that’s the RAD system.”

Firehouse productions provides sound reinforcement, wireless hardware, frequency coordination and communications for the entertainment and broadcast portions of the event. “We had four zones of coverage – ceiling, stage, back hallways, loading – in a hostile RF environment,” he adds. “We were working with well over 600 frequencies on the air in the arena. Anywhere you can save space on the UHF band you do.”

The UV-1G intercom system requires less than 30 kHz of the VHF band freeing up valuable UHF bandwidth. In addition, because the VHF band is virtually empty, every comm operator has their own channel, eliminating any issues that can occur when forced to “double-up”, as required by some UHF systems.

“I also like the frequency agility of the UV1-G in the UHF band – it is tunable through the entire spectrum, from 470-698 mHz,” Siniscal says. “It can transmit within whatever bandwidth is available — another really nice benefit of the system.”

As with any event the size and scope of NBA All-Star weekend, reliability and durability are key qualities for gear in constant use, the UV1-G system consistently proves itself extremely capable in demanding RF environments. Siniscal and his team also implemented RAD antennas, combiners and VHF zone splitters for expanded coverage in the arena.

“I am a big fan of RAD intercoms,” Siniscal concludes, “They are reliable, sound great and make the life of anyone working with a lot of RF much easier.”

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Photo Cutline: Firehouse Productions deployed four Radio Active Designs UV1-G wireless intercom systems during the recent NBA All-Star game.
Photo Download: http://bit.ly/2o9uO22 (please note copyright Getty Images)

Radio Active Designs Provides Key Communication During Super Bowl 51

When one of the world’s most popular pop stars plans on jumping from the roof of the stadium during the half-time performance of the Super Bowl, you can rest assured that rock-solid communication is of utmost importance. Fortunately, ATK Versacom’s production team was equipped with Radio Active Designs UV-1G wireless intercoms and the event went off without a hitch.

Jeff Watson, ATK Versacom’s RF PL Engineer for Super Bowl 51, managed pre-game, anthem, halftime show and the Lombardi Award presentation with the assistance of five UV-1G base stations with 30 RAD bodypacks which were in use by stage managers, audio, lighting and members of Flying By Foy, the widely-respected theatrical flying service that was responsible for the flying portion of Lady Gaga’s performance.

“Because of the UV-1G’s bandwidth efficiency and open RF spectrum in the VHF range, I could give each user of the RAD systems full duplex communication, unlike the users of my other UHF FM systems – which were all pseudo-simplex,” Watson explains. “Due to the UHF spectrum being so saturated, all four users of each UHF FM system are “stacked” on the same frequency, so only one person can speak at a time or they cancel each other out. We didn’t have to do this with the RAD units, so those users had full two-way communication throughout the event. The half-time show had a lot of moving parts – literally and figuratively. It is extremely important that some team members be able to communicate with others no matter what. The RAD systems allow us to accomplish that.”

Radio Active Designs UV-1G Enhanced Narrow Band technology is 10 times more spectrally efficient than current FM technology. As a result, the UV-1G offers RF channels possessing an occupied bandwidth of a mere 25 kHz the audio characteristics one would expect from a traditional FM system. In addition, the system utilizes the relatively unused VHF range for all belt pack portable devices, leaving more room for operation of other wireless devices, such as wireless microphones and in-ear monitors, which were in use during the event.

Watson, who had also used RAD systems during last year’s Super Bowl, adds, “Last year RAD provided significant improvements to the audio quality of their RAD Pack and this year they did it again. We used four new body pack prototypes that improved the audio quality even more. I was extremely impressed. With the radio spectrum auction taking away chunks of bandwidth, RAD UV-1G’s are going to be the only system out there that will work on events of this size in the future.”

ATK Versacom also provided RAD TX-8’s for Transmit Combining and the new UHF/VHF DB-IC for receivers along with an ATK Versacom proprietary RF over fiber system. In addition, Radio Active Designs VF-1 VHF paddle antennas were also in use making is possible to cover the entire field with just one receiver antenna. A remote antenna was used in the tunnels for continuous coverage throughout the entire venue.

“It was an incredible system that worked extremely well,” Watson concludes. “The RAD system makes coordinating an event of this magnitude much easier than it has ever been before.”

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Photo Cutline: ATK Versacom’s Jeff Watson and Jim Van Winkle, Professional Wireless Systems, with the Radio Active Designs UV-1G units.
Download hi-res: http://bit.ly/2meIfhn

17th Annual Latin Grammy Awards Relies On Radio Active Designs For Flawless Communications

The 17th Annual Latin Grammy Awards, recently held at Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena, was seen by more than 9.0 million viewers via both the Univision broadcast and those attending the sold-out live event.

Orlando, Florida-based Professional Wireless Systems (PWS) was on site to provide RF coordination for the production. More than 170 RF frequencies were used for wireless microphones, in-ear monitors and intercom systems. To minimize the already crowded RF bandwidth, PWS furnished five Radio Active Designs UV-1G wireless intercom systems to aid communication throughout the performance. The systems were used primarily by the stage managers and the audio department.

“We had 34 RAD packs on five base stations,” explains Gary Trenda, RF PL Engineer. “Each base station is equipped with six bodypacks, but we were able to double up on a few of the channels with folks that only needed to use them sporadically.”

The UV1-G wireless intercom system is unique because the body packs operate in the VHF range, where there is plenty of available spectrum to use. The base station utilizes proprietary Enhanced Narrow Band technology which allows the 6-channel unit to occupy a mere 25 kHz of RF bandwidth while maintaining the audio characteristics one would expect from a traditional FM system.

The five base stations were rack mounted and located backstage. Two zones – the bowl/main stage and back of house/dressing/green rooms – were covered by separate antenna systems that expanded coverage of the UV1-G systems.

James Stoffo, RF Lead for the Grammys and CTO for Radio Active Designs, concludes, “One of the reasons we developed the UV-1G was to help with the serious congestion in the RF band. This is a perfect example of a situation that needs as much available RF as possible. There were 170 frequencies just on the inside show. The only VHF were RAD belt packs. This made the RF coordination the easiest it has ever been in the last 15 years of doing the Latin Grammys.”


Photo Cutline: The RF team at the Latin Grammys: Jason Lambert, RF Tech; Dave Nichols, PL Tech; Tim Kepner, PL Engineer; Gary Trenda, RF PL Engineer, and Jim Van Winkle, PWS General Manager
Photo Download: http://bit.ly/2h1gUwi

CMA Music Festival Celebrates With Radio Active Designs

Four Radio Active Designs’ (RAD) UV-1G wireless intercom systems provided rock solid communications for the Nissan Stadium stage during the recent CMA Music Festival in Nashville. With several country acts performing every day of the four-day festival, communication between stage managers and audio, lighting and video techs throughout the stadium was of extreme importance.

Sound Image’s Nashville office once again provided sound reinforcement for the festival – they have worked with the CMA Music Festival since 2013. The sound company tapped Jason Glass (Clean Wireless Audio LLC) to handle the responsibilities of radio frequency supervisor, coordinator and technician for the festival. A long-time user of the UV-1G wireless intercom system, he was delighted the Radio Active Design units were on hand for the event.

“The UV-1G belt pack’s use of the sparsely occupied VHF-TV band is extremely helpful when you’re coordinating approximately 250 frequencies n the UHF-TV band for each day of the festival,” Glass explains. “The base station’s wide tuning bandwidth in the UHF portion of its transmission scheme is also beneficial, since you’re not bound to small blocks of tuning range but rather can tune anywhere within the UHF-TV band.

“Having narrow occupied bandwidths for each UV-1G frequency channel allows the user to pack more discrete channels into less spectrum than previous RFPL technologies, and having six belt pack drops per base station allows larger system deployments with less hardware in the PL racks.”

Each year at the CMA Festival an antenna truss is deployed high above the stage which includes an omnidirectional ground-plane antenna to receive intercom belt pack transmission over a wide coverage area in the stadium. Those signal are then fed to the UV-1G base stations’ antenna splitter through 125 feet of low-loss coaxial cable.

“UHF signals would attenuate 4.3dB at 470MHz to 5.2dB at 698MHz (this is the full UHF-TV range) through these cables, while VHF signals attenuate roughly 2.7dB,” continues Glass. “The difference is just under twice the transmitted power through the line. This allows larger roaming range for these systems and more reliable links from belt packs to base stations without the need to resort to noisy active RF amplifiers to drive long cables.”

Sound image subcontracted CP Communications to provide intercom gear, which included the four UV-1G base stations and 20 RAD packs. Tim Kepner, intercom design and lead engineer (TLK Audio Video Services), worked with both Sound Image and TV Broadcast to provide them with an integrated comms design and implementation that would simultaneously flow well for both the live and broadcast portions of the show.

Kepner was responsible for all in house intercom and integration to broadcast facilities during the festival. Having used the UV-1G system in equally challenging RF environments before – the Pope’s visit this past year, Made In America, Univision Latin Grammys, Premio Juventud and Premio Nuestro shows, to name a few – he knew they were up to the task.

“One of the nice things about the UV-1G is that the feature set is familiar to non-technical production oriented operators so they can adapt to it very easily,” he explains. “The setup is also very straightforward with the added bonus of being able to program the devices on a PC, without having the systems on hand. When I get to the venue, I plug in my computer and dump the settings into them. If I have to make any fast changes to settings on the hardware, it’s relatively simple to navigate the menu and make it happen.”

The four UV-1G base stations were rack mounted on stage by the monitor mix area with 20 RAD packs in use throughout the festival. Radio Active Designs’ Enhanced Narrow Band technology provides each channel of the UV-1G with an occupied bandwidth of only 25 kHz – substantially less than a typical system. The RAD packs utilize the relatively unused VHF range for all belt pack portable devices. The combined result is more available RF for operation of other wireless devices which are in high demand.

More than 65,000 country music fans were drawn to the musicians performing at the Nissan Stadium which included Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. Kepner adds, “This was the 45th anniversary of the festival and it broke all attendance records. That speaks volumes about the experience fans have during the event. Keeping lines of communication open is important and the RAD UV-1G was integral to making that happen.”

RGEAR Deploys RAD Wireless Intercom In Cutthroat Business

By Isaac Abrego
Audio Manager, RGEAR

We opened Burbank, California-based RGEAR in 2006 with the goal of becoming the premier, boutique audio and video rental house with a specialty in reality television. Founded by technical supervisor Steve Abrego and audio supervisor Gregg Kita, we have exceeded expectations and continue to grow due in part to a constant eye on new products and technology.

When production companies come to us with their show (or idea for a show), we help them figure out how to technically make that happen on the production side. The idea is to let our customer concentrate on the creative while we handle all of their technical needs, including providing the skilled professionals necessary to pull it all together.

Lately, the RF bands we use for production audio have become more and more crowded as we continue to increase the amount of wireless needed for each show. At the same time, the usable UHF range is decreasing. Staying ahead of the curve and solving potential complications before they become real problems is one of the reasons we have been so successful. So we evaluated the amount of RF required and started looking for products that might lighten our RF load. During this process we were introduced to the UV-1G wireless intercom system from Radio Active Designs. We started using it immediately on one of our major projects, Food Network’s popular television show Cutthroat Kitchen and its spinoff Camp Cutthroat.

The UV-1G wireless system is unique in that the base station uses only a sliver of UHF while the belt packs operate solely in the mostly uninhabited VHF range. With the RF spectrum getting smaller, our first goal was to free up available UHF frequencies. By having the transmit signal from the belt pack to the base station operate in VHF we are able to open up space in our UHF coordination needed for cast and camera sends, while also limiting the quantity of RX antennas used per install.

In addition, by operating on a larger wave length (VHF), the signal from each individual belt pack is able to transmit further and with greater penetration ability. This is helpful on set but we have also found it equally beneficial in conference applications. It allows the signal to propagate through a room filled with people (usually a problem for frequency coordination in a higher spectrum) with little signal loss. An excellent bonus to having the system in our inventory.

Another perk is that we can quickly “restructure” the system in order to match it to the user ability of our clients. For instance, “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Camp Cutthroat” are two very different setups. However, we are easily able to structure the system so that they can be utilized for both productions in a way that is seamless for the user and requires minimal labor on the installation end.

Recently, we used the UV-1G to create a system on the fly that needed to be shipped very quickly for a large conference arena. Because we were able to tether the system with other systems at the arena, we were able to create a “hybrid” wired and wireless comm system that allowed the control room to be over 1000ft away from the wireless zone where the handheld camera operators were located. Because the UV-1G is so flexible, it allows our team to more easily meet our customers’ demands.

Keeping a thumb on technology is extremely important in this industry – and these days there is plenty to keep an eye on. The Radio Active Design gear has proven to not only help minimize potential RF difficulties, but has also helped us stay ahead of the RF technology curve.

Isaac Abrego is currently the audio manager at RGEAR. He was first introduced to the challenges of RF while working as an A2 on the Bachelor/Bachelorette series. Since then he has completed four years of study of RF as well as modern computing techniques used for audio. He joined RGEAR as the audio manager in 2015 with a goal of building and designing systems that are able to operate with the modern constraints of RF.