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February 24, 2020 3:31 pm  #1


Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

I just got off the phone with one of the engineers who will be working overnight March 13th when the repack for WNED Channel 17 takes place.
 
I called because, for the last few weeks, I’ve been having trouble getting the station over my antenna, which is unusual with that signal. What happened? According to the guy I spoke to, in preparation for the big frequency switch and the powering on of their shiny brand new tower, they’ve been temporarily using an alternate antenna and operating at much lower power.
 
“Our physical transmitter is located on Grand Island, N.Y. And our tower is approx. 1,100 feet tall,” he told me. “And in addition to Channel 17 being on that tower, there was another channel on that tower (i.e. Channel 23, WNLO)….However, they are no longer on that tower.”
 
WNLO has since moved back to the Channel 4 tower in Colden, N.Y., which means if you can get WIVB, you can get the CW station. But if one doesn’t come in, the other won’t, either. Which is too bad, because Channel 23 was once one of the strongest signals into Toronto.
 
WNED is back to full power now and he assures me those interruptions are over.
 
In an era when TV stations never sign off, Channel 17 will be off the air for the night as of midnight March 13th if all goes according to plan. The engineer says the station won’t be back on over their new frequency until around 6 in the morning.
 
He will then be pulling an extra shift answering phones expected from over-the-air viewers complaining that they can’t get them anymore.
 
As for how much better 17 should be here after the move, the tech told me that they applied for and were granted permission to go to a higher power once the new transmitter is switched on. But he wouldn’t guarantee if that would, in fact, improve the signal into T.O., although logic would dictate that a higher output would lead to better reception.  
 
I’ve also tried to reach WKBW repeatedly, with no luck. They have been virtually non-existent for weeks for me, other than the occasional pixelated blocks – if that. I can only hope they’ve been on reduced power as well, and that when they come back on the new frequency, things will improve with that station as well.
 
‘KB has always been a bit of a problem for me, but it’s never been gone for this long a time. Either way, March 13th can’t come soon enough for those of us with antennas!

 

February 24, 2020 5:17 pm  #2


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

RA, your observations are correct.  WNED should be improved, because they are going to have a power increase and propagation on Ch. 31 should be better than on 43 (lower frequency).  As for WKBW, they have been operating on an FCC "STA" - temporary authority, 372 KW at 1143' versus their previous tower height of 1420'.   That loss of about 300 feet has made it difficult to receive the station in Toronto.   On March 13th they should go back to 1417' but they will have a large power increase to 660KW.   The antenna pattern will be less directional when they move to Ch. 34 on the 13th of March.

You can find all of the technical data including coverage maps at rabbitears.info
According to Rabbitears.info, the map of WNED's coverage puts a great signal throughout the GTA.  Probably about 5-10 KM further north.

 

February 24, 2020 5:20 pm  #3


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Thanks TVguy. Your expertise on these matters is always appreciated.  I look forward to seeing them both a lot better come mid-March. (Now if they just hadn't moved WIVB and WNLO back to Colden...)

     Thread Starter
 

February 24, 2020 9:35 pm  #4


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

For those who had reasonable reception of WIVB when it transmitted on Ch. 39 from Colden Ny, (for about 10 years) I suspect that the signal may be nearly equivalent on Ch. 36, when they finish the antenna rebuild. 
For comparison, the antenna is only at 1,023 feet now and they are running 560KW.
When they rebuild (sometime before summer) they will be at 800kw and 1,362 feet.  That is 10Kw greater than when they operated on Ch. 39.

 

February 24, 2020 9:40 pm  #5


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Great. So that should vastly improve reception here. It sounds to me like all the Buffalo stations should come in a lot better in Toronto once this repack and repair is all done. (I just wish I could get channel 67 here, but it's just too weak a signal.)

     Thread Starter
 

February 25, 2020 10:20 am  #6


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

tvguy wrote:

For those who had reasonable reception of WIVB when it transmitted on Ch. 39 from Colden Ny, (for about 10 years) I suspect that the signal may be nearly equivalent on Ch. 36, when they finish the antenna rebuild. 
For comparison, the antenna is only at 1,023 feet now and they are running 560KW.
When they rebuild (sometime before summer) they will be at 800kw and 1,362 feet.  That is 10Kw greater than when they operated on Ch. 39.

1362 feet?  Wow, that is a tall tower. 

 

February 25, 2020 3:28 pm  #7


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

To put this in perspective:  Buffalo is 600' above mean sea level.
The site in Colden, to the top of the WIVB/WNLO tower is 2,667' AMSL.   So the line-of-sight from that tower is tremendous relative to the target audience scattered around Buffalo.  I should also note that when they go to the top of the tower, and increase power to 800 KW, there is also a component of 200 KW "vertical".
That will also improve reception.  I don't believe that WNLO Ch. 32 or WIVB Ch. 39 had a "vertical" component to their radiation patterns.

Toronto, on average is 246' above mean sea level.   So, although WIVB/WNLO are out towards our horizon, the tower height and the elevation of the antenna "above mean sea level" are a plus, in terms of our ability to receive the signals.

Last edited by tvguy (February 25, 2020 3:31 pm)

 

February 25, 2020 3:59 pm  #8


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

I already get both, tho WNLO can come and go every now and then with the weather.  Hope they stick around for me.

 

February 25, 2020 4:54 pm  #9


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Link to Picture of WIVB/WNLO tower in Colden NY.  You can also see 102.5 Antenna.

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.6592615,-78.625505,37m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en-CA

 

Last edited by tvguy (February 25, 2020 4:56 pm)

 

February 25, 2020 5:09 pm  #10


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Finally got the head engineer at WKBW, who told me on the phone he’s been away at the transmitter site for the last two or three weeks and hasn’t been back in the building since then. Which is why I haven't been able to reach him. 
 
He was nice enough to confirm that yes, WKBW was operating at half power (about 140 kilowatts) from a back-up transmitter, as they prepare the new one. (He tells me the thing is still being built. Talk about leaving things to the last minute!)
 
And he wasn’t the least bit surprised that people in Toronto (we’re on what he called “the fringe”) were either having trouble getting the signal or not getting it at all.
 
The bad news: it’s going to stay that way until repack day March 13th, so if you’re not getting it now, you likely won’t for the next few weeks.
 
The good news: By the time that transition occurs, the power will be double what it is now and that should help us fringers!
 
The bad news for him: like his Channel 17 counterpart, he’ll be up all night and then spend much of the rest of the day fielding phone calls from people complaining they can’t get the station. I’m not sure he’s looking forward to that!
 
Unlike WNED, whose engineer told me they would sign off at midnight and would make the transition sometime after 6 AM, KB’s chief tech tells me they plan to go dark at 1:05 AM and, if all goes well, expect to be back up and running on the new frequency at about 1:15 in the morning, roughly 10-15 minutes later. 
 
So if you’re up late (or early, depending on how your days go) you’ll know soon enough if there’s a signal improvement.
 
If there’s a small fly in this antenna ointment, it’s that the WKBW transmitter site is in Holland, N.Y., which isn’t all that far from where WIVB (and WNLO’s) is, and that distance could provide an extra challenge for those on antennas in the GTA.

And then there's that big gulf between here and there. "You get a lot of effect from Lake Ontario, too," he notes. "It's never been a good carrier for signals."

Still, the power boost should help us here and my hope is that KB will be better into Toronto than ever.  
 
In any event, I thank him for his time and he sounds like he can’t wait to get this thing over with. I second that emotion! 

     Thread Starter
 

February 25, 2020 5:29 pm  #11


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

A final few items from our brief chat. I can't see the station right now, but he says there are crawls running across the top of the screen over almost every network show, advising people of the change and that antenna users will have to rescan come March 13th. 

He also notes that while this is the last big flip in Buffalo, it's not the end of the repack. "There's two more phases. I believe Buffalo's totally done at the end of this," he says. "This is Phase 8, I believe Buffalo's totally done at the end of Phase 8."

In other words, it's just a "phase" they're going through! But at least this is the finale for us as far as the major afilliates across the lake are concerned.

I promised to call him back after the change and let him know how the station is coming in here once it's all done. Your reception reports will be included if you want to post them here after the switch.

     Thread Starter
 

February 25, 2020 5:35 pm  #12


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

RadioActive wrote:

Finally got the head engineer at WKBW, who told me on the phone he’s been away at the transmitter site for the last two or three weeks and hasn’t been back in the building since then. Which is why I haven't been able to reach him. 
 
He was nice enough to confirm that yes, WKBW was operating at half power (about 140 kilowatts) from a back-up transmitter, as they prepare the new one. (He tells me the thing is still being built. Talk about leaving things to the last minute!)

That is good news. I have had terrible results trying to pick up WKBW in the past several weeks, when it had been fairly reliable previously. Hopefully it comes back for me. My wife's appetite for me climbing onto our rather steep sloped roof to futz with the antenna or install a new one is very limited.

WKBW has been unreliable since more or less when WIVB moved off Grand Island and it too became generally unreachable for me here in Cabbagetown. I am just glad WIVB stayed on Grand Island for the duration of James Holzhauer's epic run on Jeopardy! I watched it quite regularly before that, but after he lost I tuned out - he broke the game, and his successors are just not up to the task.

 

February 25, 2020 7:11 pm  #13


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

I just realized that the big switch in March takes place on Friday the 13th. 

As Scooby Doo would say, "Ruh-oh!"

(Actually, I'm not superstitious. Knock on wood...) 

     Thread Starter
 

February 26, 2020 11:00 am  #14


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

tvguy wrote:

To put this in perspective:  Buffalo is 600' above mean sea level.
The site in Colden, to the top of the WIVB/WNLO tower is 2,667' AMSL.   So the line-of-sight from that tower is tremendous relative to the target audience scattered around Buffalo.  I should also note that when they go to the top of the tower, and increase power to 800 KW, there is also a component of 200 KW "vertical".
That will also improve reception.  I don't believe that WNLO Ch. 32 or WIVB Ch. 39 had a "vertical" component to their radiation patterns.

Toronto, on average is 246' above mean sea level.   So, although WIVB/WNLO are out towards our horizon, the tower height and the elevation of the antenna "above mean sea level" are a plus, in terms of our ability to receive the signals.

Fantastic info thanks.   Basically it sounds like when all said it done it will be a blowtorch.  I am receiving this station and WKBW and almost full signal at times in Etobicoke with no drop-outs in their current pre-repack state. 

 

February 26, 2020 11:02 am  #15


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Is all said and done still with Toronto stations? When I did a re-scan last night, CITY and GLOBAL still appeared on their old frequencies so it looks like no. 

 

February 26, 2020 11:37 am  #16


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Apparently not. According to Rabbit Ears.info, the final Toronto station moves will take place in phase 10. (WKBW's engineer told me the March 13th move is part of phase 8, so you have an idea of where we are.) According to the chart below, that looks to be July 3rd. At least the local stations won't raise reception concerns.  

If I read this right, (and please feel free to correct me if I don't) that means the following will be moving on that date: 

CJMT (OMNI)
Current: 40
New: 26

CIII (Global)
Current: 41
New: 17

CITY TV
Current: 44
New: 30

CFMT (Omni)
Current: 47
New: 18

Repack Phase Dates
https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/ia-transition-schedule-bar-chart.png

     Thread Starter
 

February 26, 2020 12:00 pm  #17


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

RadioActive wrote:

Apparently not. According to Rabbit Ears.info, the final Toronto station moves will take place in phase 10. (WKBW's engineer told me the March 13th move is part of phase 8, so you have an idea of where we are.) According to the chart below, that looks to be July 3rd. At least the local stations won't raise reception concerns.  

If I read this right, (and please feel free to correct me if I don't) that means the following will be moving on that date: 

CJMT (OMNI)
Current: 40
New: 26

CIII (Global)
Current: 41
New: 17

CITY TV
Current: 44
New: 30

CFMT (Omni)
Current: 47
New: 18

Repack Phase Dates
https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/ia-transition-schedule-bar-chart.png

Great info again!  I can concur that the stations are still sitting on those current #s based on what I saw light up on my re-scan last night.  

 

February 26, 2020 4:00 pm  #18


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Rogers got permission to put City on ch. 18 with higher power. OMNI1 will be on ch. 30.
Also noted today on their web site is WNYO ch. 49;also moving on the 13th.
http://mytvbuffalo.com/

 

February 26, 2020 5:54 pm  #19


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

andysradio wrote:

Also noted today on their web site is WNYO ch. 49;also moving on the 13th.
http://mytvbuffalo.com/

WNYO will be going from Channel 49 to Channel 16, according to the RabbitEars site. 

     Thread Starter
 

February 27, 2020 11:10 pm  #20


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Will WNYO be getting a signal boost? I've had some trouble with them over the last few months.

 

February 27, 2020 11:49 pm  #21


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

WNYO has dropped power down to 105 kw (was 198 kw), temporarily to accommodate WPXJ Ch. 51 (ION) on their tower which is S. of Buffalo.  In March they are moving to Grand Island, and will boost power to 575 kw.   That should put a much better signal into Toronto.  However Sinclair has committed to operate WNYO in Nextgen ATSC-3, sometime in 2020 which means it will not be visible to 99.9% of TV's and set-top boxes.   The likelihood is that WNYO's signal may be duplicated as a sub carrier on WUTV, because the FCC has mandated stations that switch to "NextGen" ATSC-3 to provide a "nite lite" signal in ATSC-1 (the current standard) for 5 years.   Sinclair owns both stations.  Since ATSC-3 is not compatible with ATSC-1.0 receivers, there are various scenarios being looked at for provision of the "nite lite" ATSC-1.0 signal, either on a low-power frequency, or as noted above, on a subcarrier of an existing ATSC-1.0 station.  The conjecture is, WNYO will start broadcasting in ATSC-1.0 on Ch. 16 and then transition to Nextgen ATSC-3 before the end of the year, but that of course may change when the reality of no compatible TVs in the Buffalo market, brings Sinclair a reality check.

Last edited by tvguy (February 27, 2020 11:50 pm)

 

February 28, 2020 4:19 am  #22


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

TVGUY: so stations will not be transmitting both 1.0 and 3.0 on the same channel? I assumed they were but never really thought about it. I guess there would be a bit of a conflict if they did....

 

February 28, 2020 5:04 am  #23


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

RadioActive wrote:

(I just wish I could get channel 67 here, but it's just too weak a signal.)

Yup. It's also buffering a lot here, so it's a no win situation:  https://streema.com/tv/WBBZ_TV_Me_TV_Buffalo
 

 

February 28, 2020 5:33 am  #24


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Thanks for the info TVGuy.

 

February 28, 2020 10:21 am  #25


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Tardis wrote:

TVGUY: so stations will not be transmitting both 1.0 and 3.0 on the same channel? I assumed they were but never really thought about it. I guess there would be a bit of a conflict if they did....

Tardis, that is the problem with ATSC-3.  It is not "backward compatible" with ATSC-1.0.   So it's an all-or-nothing proposition.  Buy a new TV set or set top box, or lose reception of the signal.  Reminiscent of Canada's DAB fiasco isn't it?   TV broadcasters, particularly Sinclair are confident that OTA viewers will upgrade their TV's over the next number of years to 4K UHD with built-in ATSC-3.0 tuners.  They also forecast new portable devices with ATSC 3.0 capability.  But I'm not so sure that will occur.  Cord-cutters are the main viewers of OTA signals in the US and they are doing so, because they don't want to pay high cable bills.  So the inducement to buy a new TV is probably not there, particularly if they are pleased with the HD ATSC-1.0 signals they currently receive.  Honestly?  Who would spend $1,000 to receive the CW network OTA on Sinclair's Ch. 49?   As long as PBS, and a few other networks that I watch regularly remain in ATSC-1.0 I'm happy.   
 

 

February 28, 2020 11:00 am  #26


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

I’ve tried to read up a bit about ATSC 3.0 but I’m still not quite sure I understand what the point of this new standard is.
 
It hasn’t been that long since governments forced HD on everyone, obsoleting every old analog set and forcing viewers to either buy a new TV or get a converter.
 
I get it. The powers-that-be wanted the frequency space for other uses, including the ever growing cell phone industry. But that was supposed to be a one-time look-at-the-improvement-in-the-picture-it’s-so-much-better-it’s-worth-the-expense-and-trouble thing.
 
It’s only been since June 2009 that every American TV broadcaster turned off analog signals, just over a decade ago. (Canada went in August 2011.) Now some want to make consumers go through all this change and expense all over again.
 
According to some info I’ve seen, ATSC 3.0 devices would be able to “wake up” your set in the event of an emergency and broadcast a message to every household. The experience we’ve had with Canada’s emergency notification system on cell phones and existing radio and TV stations hasn’t exactly been warmly welcomed by the public. Imagine what this would do.
 
Another item I’ve read says that this standard would allow for more targeted ads aimed at viewers in various demos – meaning not everyone would be watching the same commercials at the same time, depending on what advertisers know about you. Why in the world would anyone welcome this idea?
 
My questions for TVguy or anyone else who feels qualified to answer: what is it about ATSC 3.0 that’s supposed to be so much better than what we have now that this would be considered worth doing, even if it’s not mandated yet?
 
How much better is the picture, and is there some point at which the human eye couldn’t really tell the difference? If they ever decided we have to go to this new standard, is it really worth it?
 
I admit I don’t know a lot - or really anything – about ATSC 3.0 beyond the little I’ve read and I don't want to stand in the way of progress. But I just can’t see the point of even considering putting everyone thorough this again.

     Thread Starter
 

February 28, 2020 11:52 am  #27


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

In nutshell, the ATSC 3.0 standard allows for more capability than the current ATSC 1.0 standard (ATSC 2.0 was more theoretical, and was never rolled out. Rather it was rolled into what would become the ATSC 3.0 standard)

Like ATSC 1.0 (and the analog NTSC standard before) ATSC 3.0 still uses a 6 MHz RF bandwidth assignment.  However, the modulation scheme is different. 

ATSC 1.0 uses the 8VSB (vestigial side band) modulation method. ATSC 1.0 has a top end bit rate of 19.39 Mbit/s.

ATSC 3.0 uses a OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex) modulation method. ATSC 3.0 can have a maximum bit rate of 57 Mbit/s.  It is designed to handle UHD (don't say 4K, its a marketing gimmick), with High Dynamic Range (HDR), a greater/Wider Colour Gamut (WCG), and Higher or Progressive Frame Rates (HFR).

The different modulation methods, 8VSB for ATSC 1.0 and OFDM for ATSC 3.0 is the main factor which makes the two standards non compatible with each other (either forward, or backward).

The selective or targeted advertising is a feature of ATSC 3.0...   There are equipment suppliers who have been giving seminars/webinars and delivering white papers to engineers and station owners/groups for the last couple of years touting this capability as "Data Mining".

The higher bit rate can also allow for streaming delivery directly to viewers using mobile devices. I've attended a technical seminar from a reputable test/measurement company the last couple of years. The presenter has stated numerous times that it is the streaming delivery capability of ATSC 3.0 which has the cell/broadband companies all in a twist. And this presenter has also predicted that if they choose to do so, broadcasters can beat the big cell companies to market with a streaming system which can rival or exceed 5G technology. (Look at how some governments are blocking or stalling the approval of some equipment manufacturers of 5G equipment over security concerns/issues).





 

 

February 28, 2020 12:06 pm  #28


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Interesting, although a bit technical for this addled brain. But I still don't see exactly what's in it for consumers and why they'd want to go out and pay for a new - and likely expensive at the beginning - set. 

Glen Warren wrote:

...broadcasters can beat the big cell companies to market with a streaming system which can rival or exceed 5G technology. (Look at how some governments are blocking or stalling the approval of some equipment manufacturers of 5G equipment over security concerns/issues).

My only quibble with this is that the broadcasters here are almost all the same owners as the cell phone companies (i.e. Bell & Rogers) so I can't see why they'd care either way. But perhaps you were referring to ownership in the U.S., which is different.

Either way, the difference between HD and analog is obvious. I'm not convinced the specs between ATSC 1 and 3 could ever be worth the time and the trouble to put the average person through this again.   

     Thread Starter
 

February 28, 2020 12:15 pm  #29


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

RadioActive wrote:

...

Glen Warren wrote:

...broadcasters can beat the big cell companies to market with a streaming system which can rival or exceed 5G technology. (Look at how some governments are blocking or stalling the approval of some equipment manufacturers of 5G equipment over security concerns/issues).

My only quibble with this is that the broadcasters here are almost all the same owners as the cell phone companies (i.e. Bell & Rogers) so I can't see why they'd care either way. But perhaps you were referring to ownership in the U.S., which is different.

... 

Yes, US based broadcasters and the US market...  Agreed, Canadian Corporate overlords of broadcast outlets here will drag their knuckles over doing this or anything which could challenge one of their more lucrative product/service segments.
 

 

February 28, 2020 12:19 pm  #30


Re: Having Trouble With WNED & WKBW OTA In The GTA? This May Be Why

Considering the state of OTA television today, especially in this country, it kind of sounds like AM Stereo - a wonderful invention that may be too late. My gut tells me that we will see very little conversion to 3.0 in this country even though all of the big guys did commit to making the move when they last had their licenses renewed. The companies here are even too cheap to take advantage of utilizing sub-channels. It would cost too much money to create services for those channels. I don't know if it really is true or not but the old saying was: you have to spend money to make money. In the U.S., CBS supports ATSC 3.0 but is not committing its stations to using it. They may feel the future lies with CBS All Access, so maybe they know it's already too late. I don't watch much TV anymore. I haven't in years. For me, TV is a hobby - DXing. There is very little of interest and at this location (Cobourg), most stations are not very reliable. It's not that Cobourg is a bad location but my location within Cobourg is bad. I would be curious to hear what all you folks think about the future of over the air television. Am I alone in my feelings?