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Broadcast TV/Radio Microwave Links

Broadcast TV and radio microwave links are an essential part of the broadcasting infrastructure, enabling the transmission of audio and video signals over long distances. Here’s an overview of how they work:

  1. Microwave Transmission: Microwave links use high-frequency radio waves to transmit signals from one point to another. These radio waves typically fall within the frequency range of 1 GHz to 300 GHz.
  2. Line of Sight: Microwave links operate on a line-of-sight principle, meaning there must be a clear, unobstructed path between the transmitter and receiver. Any obstacles such as buildings, hills, or vegetation can disrupt the signal, so microwave towers are often placed on high ground or tall structures to ensure clear transmission paths.
  3. Transmitters and Receivers: Microwave links consist of transmitters and receivers installed at both ends of the transmission path. The transmitter converts the audio or video signal into radio waves, which are then transmitted through the air. The receiver at the other end picks up the radio waves and converts them back into the original signal.
  4. Antennas: High-gain directional antennas are used to transmit and receive microwave signals. These antennas are designed to focus the radio waves into narrow beams, increasing the range and efficiency of the transmission. Antennas are often mounted on towers or tall structures to achieve the necessary line of sight.
  5. Frequency Bands: Microwave links can operate in various frequency bands, including licensed and unlicensed bands. Licensed bands typically offer greater reliability and interference protection but require approval from regulatory authorities. Unlicensed bands, on the other hand, are more accessible but may be subject to interference from other users.
  6. Reliability and Redundancy: Microwave links are known for their reliability and are often used as primary or backup transmission paths for broadcast networks. Redundancy is often built into the network architecture to ensure continuous operation in case of equipment failure or signal degradation.
  7. Capacity: Microwave links can support a wide range of data rates, depending on factors such as frequency bandwidth and modulation techniques. Higher-frequency bands typically offer greater bandwidth and data capacity but may be more susceptible to environmental factors such as rain fade.

Overall, broadcast TV and radio microwave links play a critical role in delivering audio and video content to audiences over long distances, providing a flexible and reliable transmission solution for broadcasters worldwide.

We will be covering such equipment at the Annual NAB Show in Las Vegas, April 14-17, 2024

by Scott Kraft, Technology Producer, TechTalk Host (Broadcast TV)

Scott Kraft is the Technology Producer for Utah Channel 3. He is a degreed Electrical Engineer that applies engineering testing/procedures to products that are of technical interest to those participating in sporting activities in Southern Utah.