The Indian broadcast industry trudges along the path to digitization. Doordarshan and All India Radio upgrade their transmitters to digital, replacing all analog ones by their digital counterparts.

Doordarshan

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In 2016-17, no orders were placed by DD.

For 2017-18, DD has invited an e-tender for the supply, installation, testing, and commissioning of 44 sets of DVB-T2 & T2 Lite digital, terrestrial TV transmitter systems. This is for setting up of digital terrestrial TV transmission facilities at 44 locations, estimated cost being Rs. 217.7crore. No orders have been placed yet.

All India Radio

In 2016-17, AIR, for its FM services, procured 10 transmitters of 1KW from Harri-Ban Communication (RVR) and 93 transmitters from Falcon (dB Elettronica). The broadcaster also procured 1 transmitter of 3000 Watt from Compatible Power, value of which was 9.12 lakhs.

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For 2017-18, a bid has been invited for 1 transmitter of 3000 Watt transmitter for Bangalore, estimated cost being 8 lakh. Orders are awaited.

The government has also approved the plan to set up 31 new FM transmitters in border areas, including North-Eastern states.AIR has set up 36 frequency modulation transmittersat 33 locations in border areas. New AIR FM stations are under various stages of installation. These stations have been approved for setting up at 213 new locations across the country, including 100W relay stations at 152 locations. In an FM transmitter the frequency of the carrier is varied by the modulation signal.

DRM. In 2016-17, 6 transmitters have been procured by AIR from Comcon Technologies, at an estimated cost of 2 crore.

Under phase 1 of the national DRM digital radio rollout, a couple of years back, 37 DRM transmitters were procured, 27 units from Comcon Technologies Ltd. (Nautel) and 10 units from Harris Broadcast. Of these, 21 are now operating in pure DRM for 1 hour every day in addition to simulcast operation.

AIR is also planning to enhance the DRM service from Chennai, Pune, and Bangalore very shortly. With the finalization of Phase-II, the full featured DRM services will finally be available to the audience and a public information campaign will be initiated to inform the Indian citizens of the completely new and future oriented DRM radio platform and its many benefits.

Private FM Channels

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In 2016-17, subsequent to second batch of FM Radio Phase-III auctions, 31 transmitters were procured from Horizon Broadcast (GatesAir) and 34 transmitters from Technomedia Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (Broadcast Electronics).

Major vendors

Broadcast Electronics (BE) has been a partner to broadcasters for more than 50 years as the premier manufacturer of RF and studio products for radio. BE supplies a complete line of radio broadcast products, including transmitters for AM, FM, and HD Radio and program automation systems. BE is a global company that has influenced every major radio milestone around the globe. The company has supplied systems to independent FM broadcasters in India since the government opened up FM frequencies. It is represented by Technomedia in India.

dB Elettronica specializes in digital and analog radio FM transmitters. With more than 40 years of experience, its products offer maximum AC efficiency of the units and the best quality of the audio signal. The Green RF technology is combined with new 65:1 devices, latest evolution of the world-famous patented COLD-FET technology applied on dB's radio transmitters. It is represented in India by Falcon.

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GatesAir has a legacy of being a trusted partner for radio transmission infrastructure, delivering content nationwide on All India Radio and for private FM broadcasters in all major cities.GatesAir supports all digital radio standards (HD Radio, DAB, and DRM/DRM+), and the company's customers rely on studio production, signal distribution, and transmission solutions to maximize new revenue opportunities. GatesAir's transmitter portfolio covers all analog and digital radio power levels, with built-in technologies to help broadcasters maximize coverage, improve performance, enhance audio quality, and reduce monthly bills and long-term costs.

RVR Elettronica, since 1979, is engaged in the research and manufacture of high-tech equipment and high performance for FM transmission.RVR is not content to use a particularly efficient quality control system, but accompanies this total reliability with a perfect system configuration, an efficient installation service, training, and careful after-sales service. It is represented in India by Harri-Ban Communication (P) Ltd.

Alongwith transmitters, combiners are procured from Exir (Harri-Ban), RFS Jambro, and Sira. Processors are procured from Orban (Harri-Ban) and Omnia.

Way Forward

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has floated a consultation paper seeking comments from the industry on various aspects of digital radio broadcast, including whether there isneed for a roadmap for migration to digital radio broadcast for private FM radio operators. It has also sought comments on whether a date for digital switchover for radio broadcasting needs to be declared, just as it was set in the case of cable digitization.

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Currently, radio signals are largely transmitted in analog mode in the country. So far, only AIR has started digitization of its medium wave and short wave radio networks. The analog terrestrial radio broadcasting, when compared with digital mode, is inefficient and suffers from operational restrictions.

The industry expects to receive impetus from FM Radio Phase-IV licenses byprivate channels, AIR FM stations, which are under various stages of installation, Phase-II of the national DRM digital radio rollout by AIR, and commissioning of 44 sets of DVB-T2 & T2 Lite digital terrestrial TV transmission by Doordarshan.

Rich Redmond
Industry Speak
Providing Reliable and Energy-Efficient Transmitters

India continues to be a rapidly evolving media market, with emerging privately owned broadcasters expanding and launching new radio stations. The national television broadcaster Doordarshan is expanding to support advanced digital television.

GatesAir has a long track record in India (formerly named Harris Broadcast) as a trusted partner for radio transmission infrastructure, delivering content nationwide on All India Radio and for private FM broadcasters in all major cities. With the deployment of new licenses for private FM in India, broadcasters are seeking benefits in energy efficiency, robust system design, simple modularity, and serviceability. GatesAir has again been a leader in delivering reliable, energy-efficient, and great-sounding transmitters; and audio-over-IP links for networking.

The Flexiva FAX line of transmitters offers hot-pluggable modules and power supplies for simple and fast field repairs, with a software-defined exciter that offers outstanding audio performance, RF stability, and remote IP connectivity. The modular and software-defined nature of the design provides for a future upgrade path to DRM+ when broadcasters are ready to make a digital transition on their timeframe. Our Intraplex brand gives broadcasters E1-like reliability using cost-effective IP networks to transport stereo audio, FM composite programs, and control of land data signals all with robust and resilient network error mitigation; and extensive monitoring and logging.

In TV, broadcasters are seeking the same benefits of high energy-efficiency, modular reliability, and simple operation as they transition to digital TV. GatesAir has a large installed base of transmitters used for over-the-air analog and digital television in India today, with a software-defined exciter to seamlessly upgrade from analog to DVB-T2, DVB-T2lite, and other advanced standards. The latest solutions in the Maxiva Family provide the most efficient transmitters on the market today with extended energy efficiency, built-in voltage regulation via hot swappable power suppliers, integrated battery back up in the exciters, and advanced real-time adaptive correction software for excellent signal delivery and reliable reception. Integrated redundant IP distribution using SMPTE standard ASI over IP allows for cost-effective network connectivity to link program content to transmitters for broadcast.

Rich Redmond
Chief Product Officer,
GatesAir

Mohan Manohar Kakde
Industry Speak
Technology at its Best!

Change is inevitable, and in the electronics industry it is at its peak!

TV & FM transmitters is one of the segments where superior technology is always in demand. Since it deals with high power, technology enhancement is supremely important.

Next-gen technology should be forward-looking, smart, environment-friendly, green and economical. Even though the approach to adopt new technology might change, region-wise & country-wise, one thing is always relevant, that only total cost of ownership can evaluate and compare the technologies and bring forward real benefits to the buyers and users. Ignorance of these aspects can only bring short term benefits to the buyer.

Total cost of ownership is the estimate of all direct and indirect costs associated with an asset or acquisition over it's entire lifecycle.

Liquid cooling technology for broadcast transmitters is high-end engineering, it is a real blessing in this segment to the customers and Mother Earth.

Liquid cooled transmitter is a truly green technology, it guarantees a much lower cost of ownership for the product's lifecycle, compared to air cooled transmitters.

Smaller transmitter size brings space savings resulting in considerable reduction in rental costs per year. Increased efficiency of the amplifiers means considerable reduction in energy costs and significant reduction in CO2 emissions. Compact components make possible quick installation, the intelligent diagnostics from remote saves the cost of skilled personnel. Modular hardware design, an easy upgrade to further channels, modular software design, software upgradable solutions to new standards and features, intelligent redundancy solutions, and redundancy concepts on system and components level majorly contribute toward substantial reduction of acquisition costs.

While developed countries have fully realized the benefits of liquid cooled transmitters, in India customers need to demand for lifecycle cost to get this realization.

Mohan Manohar Kakde
Divisional Head Broadcast & Media,
Rohde & Schwarz India Pvt. Ltd.

Christophe Poulain
Industry Speak
Ecreso: Innovative and Intelligent Design

WorldCast Systems develops a range of award-winning FM Transmitters under the brand name, Ecreso. With over 60 years RF design experience; the Ecreso brand has earned a reputation worldwide for reliability, affordability and performance, they go through stringent acceptance tests by leading German broadcast institutions.

Ranging from 100W up to 10kW, Ecreso FM Transmitters are all based on a digital direct to frequency exciter for the highest signal quality. They also deliver a wide range of built-in broadcast tools such as a digital stereo encoder, advanced measurement interface, dynamic RDS encoder and a new software-based multiband sound processor.

The compact range which combines the exciter and amplifier in a single unit up to 2kW offers this full range of features, exceptional efficiency and the option of a warranty of up to 10 years. Fully featured for local maintenance and configuration, they allow extensive remote control by Web server, SNMP, RS232 or GPIOs.

At the other end of the scale, the new Ecreso FM 5kW & 10kW is based on an innovative, new intelligent design that offers the equivalent redundancy of a full 1+1 back-up system with greatly reduced costs, smaller footprint and higher efficiency. The power amplifiers, power supplies and even the fan modules are fully hot swappable and redundant and a completely passive 6-way coupler ensures that, should one of the amplifiers suffer a fault, the transmitter can stay on-air with minimum power loss indefinitely until the fault is rectified.

The highly efficient, self-monitoring power supplies contribute to a transmitter system efficiency of up to 76 percent, the highest available in today's FM broadcast market.

Christophe Poulain
VP Sales & Marketing,
WorldCast Systems