Tuesday, July 14, 2009
A Breath of Fresh Air for the Airwaves
By Richard Barnett
It just got a little easier to scan, and a whole lot easier if you live nearby TV transmissions towers. Analog TV has gone the way of the tube radio. In an effort to provide more radio frequency spectrum to public safety and other users the FCC many years ago mandated that all TV transmissions migrate to digital, a format which requires far less bandwidth.
So what's the benefit for scanner users? Well, here in Boston, for example, where channels 4 and 5 were broadcasting in the 54-72 MHz range, those stations have actually switched to frequencies up in the UHF TV range and now broadcast in the much narrower bandwidth. This means that low-band interference from these TV stations, particularly with stations above 40 MHz, are now a thing of the past. A friend of mine who is also the chief engineer for one of these stations is also a Ham. He reports that 6-meters (around 52 and 53 MHz) is now far more accessible and less noisy.
I personally always had a problem with TV channel 7 in my neighborhood mixing with pagers and the weather service transmitters and wiping out whole sections of the very active 155 MHz public safety band. It was a nightmare. That's now a thing of the past. Channel 7 I believe still operates in the same frequency range between 174 and 225 MHz but it's without the wide analog signal it had been broadcasting I no longer have those menacing monitoring problems.
By the way, it was July 12th that I had been waiting for. TV stations around the country went digital in June but they continued broadcasting an analog signal until June 12th with repeating videos explaining the switchover to those who still had not purchased a converter box. Now that July 12th has come and gone the airwaves are a whole lot healthier for the monitoring public. Now if we could just get rid of those bleepin' pagers!