Closing The Gap - AvNetwork.com

Closing The Gap

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OLDBRIDGE, NJ-February 17, 2009. That's the day television will change forever when an FCC mandate ends all analog broadcast transmissions to create totally digital viewing. This change means everyone's picture will be better, but the millions of analog TV sets out there will be useless without conversion technology. The situation becomes complicated-especially for systems contractors-when you consider all of the schools, hotels, large sporting complexes, and other institutions that may have to send hundreds or thousands of previously good analog sets to that great electronics recycler in the sky.

The cost to meet these digital requirements could be staggering, but Blonder Tongue Laboratories has introduced resourceful new options to ease this transition.

Based in Old Bridge, NJ, Blonder Tongue designs, manufactures, and supplies a comprehensive line of broadband systems equipment and technical engineering services for voice, video, and data service providers. Because its core customer base consists of both systems contractors and installers, the company has designed several new technologies to help bridge the potential digital divide arriving on 2/17/09.

"We've found that the challenge right now is that about half the installers and contractors in our industry aren't really aware of the pending DTV transition, and what it will mean to them," said Blonder Tongue director of marketing and product management Jerry Budge. For larger customers like schools and hotels, Budge said the impact of the transition would be dramatic. "In terms of a cost- and labor-effective DTV solution, there is a huge market demand out there lying dormant that will soon have to be satisfied," he said.

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Jerry Budge, Blonder Tongue's director of marketing and product management
To help systems integrators meet this demand, Blonder Tongue has unveiled an ATSC/QAM demodulator called the AQD. The AQD is a modular unit that allows the reception and demodulation of an 8VSB or QAM signal for analog-based delivery; 8VSB is the eight-level vestigial sideband modulation method adopted for terrestrial broadcast of the ATSC digital TV standard in the U.S. and Canada. QAM-or "quadrature amplitude modulation"-is the format used to encode digital cable channels and send them down the cable TV network.

With a Blonder Tongue AQD unit, systems integrators have a solution for school districts, hotels, and other clients who may have analog TVs. "The AQD will take any of the off-air digital standards and convert them down to traditional baseband audio and video," Budge said.

At this point, systems integrators will hand off the baseband audio and video signals to a standard commercial analog modulator to create an analog version of the original 8VSB digital source. That means each analog TV in the client's network will be able to view the new channels. The AQD will decode any QAM channels that aren't encrypted.

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With a Blonder Tongue AQD unit, systems integrators have a solution for school districts, hotels, and other clients who may have analog TVs.
Additionally, Blonder Tongue has enhanced its family of digital transcoders. The company has added a unit to combat a peculiarity found in many current digital TVs. "A problem many have found with today's generation of digital TVs is that their tuners aren't standardized," Budge said. "You can only operate them in one of two modes: QAM-for digital cable-or with 8VSB modulation, the terrestrial digital broadcast mode."

Budge said that if you selected one of these modes, you couldn't view the other. "Problems arise when you set a receiver to accept a full battery of QAM channels, yet you still want to view digital broadcast channels, too" Budge said. "This has been a particularly vexing problem in large sporting facilities like ballparks, where 200 digital TVs in a concourse can view cable DTV just fine, but not the local digital air feed of the event hosted on-site."

Blonder Tongue's new ATSC/QAM transcoder, the AQT, changes the 8VSB modulation scheme to QAM, so channels of either modulation can be viewed on the same set.

Budge said Blonder Tongue's role in the DTV transition will continue to focus on being a "headache solver." The company has high hopes for other technologies it has developed to help system integrators better utilize VoIP in widespread applications.

Blonder Tongue Laboratories...www.blondertongue.com


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