What's the deal with switching back to VHF?

NYCLA*

DTVUSA Member
#1
What's the deal with some stations switching back to high band VHF from UHF? ABC back to channel 7 in New York and L.A., as well as others? Wasn't DTV supposed to be entirely in the UHF spectrum? And they told everyone that they were going to need UHF antennas? And now some stations have gone back to VHF and some people who bought UHF only antennas because of what they were told lost reception and have to buy new antennas again? What is the reason for this mess and why have some stations moved their digital signals back to VHF? Maybe someone could explain the history and reasons here, or point me in the right direction to understand what happened?
 
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Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#2
You're right. Call it a regulatory flip-flop: The FCC's original plan called for DTV assignments on UHF channels 14-69. The agency changed its mind several years ago, in part because of prodding by telecoms and broadband companies eager for more bandwidth. So rather than going UHF only, the agency's final rules added channels 2-13 and removed channels 52-69 from the DTV allocation spectrum. Those upper UHF channels were auctioned off, which raised some $20 billion. The agency made some noises early on about additional spectrum for public-safety agencies, but that's now moot in most areas of the country.

A lot of people on this forum would agree with you that the FCC's spectrum decisions were rather shortsighted. This is glaringly apparent in your part of the country. Assignments are so crowded together throughout the Washington-to-New Hampshire corridor that many areas between cities have "co-channel interference" issues -- two stations assigned to the same RF channel in adjacent markets. (This is happening now between NYC and Hartford. The New York Ion and CBS affiliates are on the same channels as Hartford's Fox and CBS affiliates.)

Look on the bright side: At least NYC has only VHF-high channel assignments. In nearly 40 other cities, most of them urban centers in rural areas, stations drew assignments on channels 2-6, which have aways been highly vulnerable to electrical interference. This interference caused bright, sparkly lines and some noise in analog video and audio, but it's enough to completely block a digital television signal. Channels 7-13 are much more resistant to interference like this.

If you have a good quality UHF antenna outdoors, you don't need to junk it at all -- you can add a second antenna designed for channels 7-13 easily and inexpensively. Let us know if you need advice in this regard. We'd be glad to help.
 

NYCLA*

DTVUSA Member
#3
You're right. Call it a regulatory flip-flop: The FCC's original plan called for DTV assignments on UHF channels 14-69. The agency changed its mind several years ago, in part because of prodding by telecoms and broadband companies eager for more bandwidth. So rather than going UHF only, the agency's final rules added channels 2-13 and removed channels 52-69 from the DTV allocation spectrum. Those upper UHF channels were auctioned off, which raised some $20 billion. The agency made some noises early on about additional spectrum for public-safety agencies, but that's now moot in most areas of the country.

A lot of people on this forum would agree with you that the FCC's spectrum decisions were rather shortsighted. This is glaringly apparent in your part of the country. Assignments are so crowded together throughout the Washington-to-New Hampshire corridor that many areas between cities have "co-channel interference" issues -- two stations assigned to the same RF channel in adjacent markets. (This is happening now between NYC and Hartford. The New York Ion and CBS affiliates are on the same channels as Hartford's Fox and CBS affiliates.)

Look on the bright side: At least NYC has only VHF-high channel assignments. In nearly 40 other cities, most of them urban centers in rural areas, stations drew assignments on channels 2-6, which have aways been highly vulnerable to electrical interference. This interference caused bright, sparkly lines and some noise in analog video and audio, but it's enough to completely block a digital television signal. Channels 7-13 are much more resistant to interference like this.

If you have a good quality UHF antenna outdoors, you don't need to junk it at all -- you can add a second antenna designed for channels 7-13 easily and inexpensively. Let us know if you need advice in this regard. We'd be glad to help.
Thanks for that history lesson. So pre-transition, I take it that some channels were broadcasting on UHF 52-69 and those channels only became unavailable after June 12th, 2009? So this is why they moved back to VHF? 14-51 still has a lot of empty channels, why didn't they just move to a different UHF channel?
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#4
The VHF channels were occupied by analog signals prior to the DTV transition. NYC had analog stations on 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13. WCBS, WNBC and WNYW went to UHF and stayed there, abandoning 2, 4 and 5. WABC, WWOR, WPIX and WNET returned to 7, 9, 11 and 13 after they shut off their analog transmitters June 12. Digital signals from these four stations had been on temporary UHF channel assignments while the analog broadcasts continued on the original channels -- until the transition. This was done because analog and digital signals cannot co-exist on the same channel.

Meanwhile, there were a number of stations broadcasting on 52-69 that moved to assignments on 51 or lower at the transition. In your market, most of these stations are located on Long Island and in New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley. The temporary UHF assignments that had been used by WABC, WWOR, WPIX and WNET were definitely needed by these stations and others shifting around within the UHF band thanks to interference issues with adjacent markets.

With 32 stations and adjacent markets so close by, the spectrum in NYC is extremely crowded. That's the highest number of assignments of any market in the nation. (NYC has three more stations than LA, the No. 2 market.) Consider these transmissions together with Philly's 23 stations and the 11 broadcasts out of Hartford, which the FCC had to do for various technical reasons, and a 45- to 50-channel spectrum doesn't seem so big after all, does it? Many of us agree completely; some here have called the spectrum "woefully inadequate," particularly in the Northeast.
 

Aries

DTVUSA Member
#5
Still gonna be tossing out a lot of headaches regardless of why they did it. People are gonna be thinking "Did I waste money on this?" and things like that. Since I'm not TV savvy, I thought for a second "Did they cancel the entire DTV thing completely?", but I guess I was wrong again.

I only know how to rig up the equipment, I have no clue how it works. XD
 

Trip

Moderator, , , Webmaster of: Rabbit Ears
Staff member
#6
WABC, WWOR, WPIX and WNET returned to 7, 9, 11 and 13 after they shut off their analog transmitters June 12.
WWOR kept UHF channel 38. Fox couldn't move it back to 9 due to spacing problems to WBPH, WTNH, and WEDN.

- Trip
 
#7
Channels moving back to vhf

I like the decsion that channels are moving back to vhf. I wish more channels would do so. In my area I am way out in the country and uhf signal is very weak. If you have a top of the line antenna, it is possible to pick up stations form 100 miles plus on vhf spectrum vs about 50 miles on uhf. For stations being avaiable to get out to a weider audince. I think vhf would be the better bet. The only problem is there is only 13 stations, and one can get into another market easily and cause override. It happen on anglog real easy, I dont know how this would work out on digatall. If anyone has any informatin on how this may work please let know. Thanks curt_dawg
 

O-O

DTVUSA Member
#10
With 32 stations and adjacent markets so close by, the spectrum in NYC is extremely crowded. That's the highest number of assignments of any market in the nation. (NYC has three more stations than LA, the No. 2 market.) Consider these transmissions together with Philly's 23 stations and the 11 broadcasts out of Hartford, which the FCC had to do for various technical reasons, and a 45- to 50-channel spectrum doesn't seem so big after all, does it? Many of us agree completely; some here have called the spectrum "woefully inadequate," particularly in the Northeast.
Almost as bad just north of me in Los Angeles too. This issue extends to most major metropolitans. Which begs the question, what happens if another station wants to start broadcasting in one of these areas?
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#11
Which begs the question, what happens if another station wants to start broadcasting in one of these areas?
Trip knows this topic better than I do, but I suspect the answer in the New York market is that you'd be S-O-L. LA wouldn't be much better: 29 stations there, plus 16 in San Diego, plus another 6 in Santa Barbara, add up to few open-channel opportunities. You'd be better off buying an existing station. That explains why network-affiliated stations in top markets such as NYC, LA and Chigaco fetch tens of millions of dollars or more apiece, while an unaffiliated station license in, say, Goodland, KS (Rabbit Ears market rank: No. 230) can be had for far less -- probably well under a million.
 

NYCLA*

DTVUSA Member
#12
Trip knows this topic better than I do, but I suspect the answer in the New York market is that you'd be S-O-L. LA wouldn't be much better: 29 stations there, plus 16 in San Diego, plus another 6 in Santa Barbara, add up to few open-channel opportunities. You'd be better off buying an existing station. That explains why network-affiliated stations in top markets such as NYC, LA and Chigaco fetch tens of millions of dollars or more apiece, while an unaffiliated station license in, say, Goodland, KS (Rabbit Ears market rank: No. 230) can be had for far less -- probably well under a million.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that you're not going to get any interference from stations in Santa Barbara. The topography is such that those signals aren't going to reach L.A. Maybe weakly to Orange County but I highly doubt it. I am a former L.A. resident, 11 years, before living in NYC for the last 10 years. I never used OTA when I lived in L.A. but I don't see SB stations being a big problem. San Diego stations conflicting with L.A. stations in the southern half of the O.C. might be another issue.

As an aside, network stations in L.A. and New York aren't affiliates, they ARE the networks. KNBC, KABC, KCBS, WNBC, WABC, WCBS, they are O&O's. I do believe FOX owns KTTV, and they do own WNYW. KCAL is owned by CBS and WWOR is owned by FOX. KCOP is owned I believe by FOX. KTLA on the other hand is affiliated with the CW, but is owned by Tribune. Not sure who owns WPIX in New York. Even ION owns it's NYC and L.A. stations.
 
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Trip

Moderator, , , Webmaster of: Rabbit Ears
Staff member
#13
Even in analog, the New York market was basically full. As far as I know, there was nowhere to put a new station anyway. The only difference is that now more of the country is in that boat.

- Trip
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#15
... In my area I am way out in the country and uhf signal is very weak. If you have a top of the line antenna, it is possible to pick up stations form 100 miles plus on vhf spectrum vs about 50 miles on uhf.
I'm 70+ miles from the transmitters and here, reception is just the opposite from your experience. VHF chs 9 & 10 are riddled with dropouts, but the UHFs are rock solid. Too much noise here for VHF.

One problem with VHF is the asinine low power levels assigned by the FCC. Moving some of the VHFs to UHF and quadrupling the power (or more) of the remaining VHFs might help.

And yes, I have a VHF highband antenna and FM trap.
 
#16
My tv problems

I'm 70+ miles from the transmitters and here, reception is just the opposite from your experience. VHF chs 9 & 10 are riddled with dropouts, but the UHFs are rock solid. Too much noise here for VHF.

Yea in a lot of areas, uhf signal can travel up to 100 miles. Where I live at it is hillily with a lot of trees. I know on the old vhf anloge I could receive stations out of three different citys even if weather was not perfect. Now it is hard for me to receive stations out of just one city case all the vhf stations went uhf. I have a amp and big antenna. The only two vhf stations within a 100 mile radius of me I can pick no problem. The others that I use to pick I cannot do so anymore.

One problem with VHF is the asinine low power levels assigned by the FCC. Moving some of the VHFs to UHF and quadrupling the power (or more) of the remaining VHFs might help.

Yea im not real sure about the way they power tv stations. I know that some are more powerful than others, still the stations that are still on vhf way out power the ones on uhf or it does in my area. I have one vhf station that is about 30 miles form me I get 96 signal on it. The vhf station I get a signal of 50 + it is about 70 miles form me, the uhf stations that are 70 miles I get no signal unless the weather is just right.
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#17
Allotted power is based on the assigned frequency, tower height and proximity to stations on the same channel or other channels they might interfere with.

But they were way off in assigning power for DTV stations on VHF. In many cases, it's a small fraction of what it should be for reliable reception.

And yes, we have HILLS here, too. The biggest problems with VHF here are lightning/impulse noise interference, FM interference, and co/adjacent channel interference from other cities. It's also very difficult to receive indoors in many instances where there are no problems with UHF. VHF sux.
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#18
almost as bad just north of me in los angeles too. This issue extends to most major metropolitans. Which begs the question, what happens if another station wants to start broadcasting in one of these areas?
S.O.L.

Sounds like what I have been complaining about for a while is finally hitting home to some here. We are out of channels now.

In North Central Florida, based on putting up a station in Gainesville, FL there is only one, I repeat one known empty channel for full max power. There maybe another one, but Trip and didn't have time to try all them.

And the population density isn't jack S. here compared to a lot of areas.
 
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Piggie

Super Moderator
#19
Yea in a lot of areas, uhf signal can travel up to 100 miles. Where I live at it is hillily with a lot of trees. I know on the old vhf anloge I could receive stations out of three different citys even if weather was not perfect. Now it is hard for me to receive stations out of just one city case all the vhf stations went uhf. I have a amp and big antenna. The only two vhf stations within a 100 mile radius of me I can pick no problem. The others that I use to pick I cannot do so anymore.

One problem with VHF is the asinine low power levels assigned by the FCC. Moving some of the VHFs to UHF and quadrupling the power (or more) of the remaining VHFs might help.

Yea im not real sure about the way they power tv stations. I know that some are more powerful than others, still the stations that are still on vhf way out power the ones on uhf or it does in my area. I have one vhf station that is about 30 miles form me I get 96 signal on it. The vhf station I get a signal of 50 + it is about 70 miles form me, the uhf stations that are 70 miles I get no signal unless the weather is just right.
I am curious how high a hill you are on because I think you are in the panhandle, which even hillier than North Central Florida. What type of antenna system do you use for reliable 100 mile VHF? I am at 30 ft with 12 plus db of gain and can't pull WESH on RF 11 at 82 miles. They are running 54.9 KW, at 1600 ft. There tower and my property are about about 30 to 50 ft AMSL. It's not real hilly between us.

Then there is WTLV on RF 13 at 61 miles running 53.3 KW at 922 ft. I get them better than WESH by a large margin, but only about 80% of the time. I don't call that reliable. You can't count on finishing a show or even watching a show.

You are either in a perfect place, on a hill, or 75 feet in the air.

Also after seeing DTV on VHF for months now, what happens in tropo, 50 some KW is enough power. Most of the range is tower height not power. Power helps penetration but will only extend the range of a high band station at 900 ft by a little better than 5 miles by going from 25 KW to 50 KW.

VHF does work farther than UHF if the power is up around 25KW or more. I can't even see the UHF out of Jacksonville but I can use their VHF from time to time.
 
#20
I am curious how high a hill you are on because I think you are in the panhandle, which even hillier than North Central Florida. What type of antenna system do you use for reliable 100 mile VHF? I am at 30 ft with 12 plus db of gain and can't pull WESH on RF 11 at 82 miles. They are running 54.9 KW, at 1600 ft. There tower and my property are about about 30 to 50 ft AMSL. It's not real hilly between us.
Well ok I live in south georgia, I am more on the side of a hill than on top, my antenna is something like 30ft in the air somewhere around that. Ok I dont know if you remember looking at plot or not, but there is one station it is around 100 miles it is channel 20 but on the frequienze of whatever it is channel 6. It is a pbs station, also another station which is a little further than 100 miles cuts in and out during the day comes in at nite is channel 9 which is also a pbs station and the nearest one to me which is channel 7 on the frequenice band which on my box is 29 comes in and at a whopping 90+ signal. Now of these are uhf according to tv fool. OH yea one channel 13 which is also on the vhf band comes in at 50 signal even during the day. These stations I pretty much get day or nite the rest are uhf I only get at nite. Here is my plot again if you want to review it.
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id=23c5d0e77ee207


You are either in a perfect place, on a hill, or 75 feet in the air.
I guess you could say I am on a hill.Its not real hillily where I live at, it does get hilly the further north you go form me. South of me is flat land.
 
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