Sunday, September 6, 2020

Radio Engineer Files Objection to WIPE

Story by Bennett Kobb:

On September 3, radio engineer Alex Pilosov of Shortwave Solutions filed with the FCC an objection to WIPE, the DRM-based HF station of Turms Tech of New York, presumed to be ready to broadcast from the Armstrong Tower in Alpine, NJ.

WIPE is suspected to be intended mainly for secret, non-broadcast message transmission for private trading clients while broadcasting financial and economic news for the public.

WIPE is not yet operational. The station is waiting on its FCC license, but Pilosov took aim at possible glitches in its license application. He also raises the issue of whether U.S. shortwave stations can legally conduct non-public telecommunications in the broadcast bands in a service limited to broadcasting.

Pilosov is a consultant to HF stations in the Experimental Radio Service, which are not constrained by the broadcast rules; thus he or his clients are prospective competitors to WIPE. This is Pilosov's second FCC objection. He also filed against the application of Parable Broadcasting for WPBC, a DRM HF station proposed for Batavia, IL.

As mentioned in our previous story on WIPE, Turms Tech submitted to the FCC two different locations for its transmitter site, one in New Jersey and one in New York City. The company apparently did not supply an antenna registration for this site, which would have helped resolve the inconsistency.

He identified further possible problems with the station's technical parameters. "Every component of transmission system proposed by Turms (coaxial line, amplifier and antenna) is under-rated and inadequate to meet the minimum power requirements," he found, leading to possible violations of safety codes and hazards from overheating and arcing.

Where Turms specified a six-element antenna, the manufacturer described a four-element antenna; where the company depicted two antennas, its other exhibits apparently show a single antenna. Pilosov added that the company's claimed antenna gain is less than indicated by the antenna manufacturer, and the antenna is rated for less power than the minimum power the FCC requires of these stations.

"Due to location and orientation of antenna, it appears that Turms is planning to transmit financial data using 'datacasting' feature of DRM, like recent application by Parable Broadcasting in Illinois," Pilosov wrote. "Turms does not explicitly describe whether such programming is 'broadcast to general public' or effectively a point-to-point service as a 'multiplex' carrier of other programming. It is well-established that 'broadcasting' only includes transmissions intended to, and received by, the general public."

He cited the FCC's description of DRM datacasting as a "wide-area" service, which would not describe point-to-point communication to specific receivers at fixed locations. In a TV-related proceeding, the FCC defined non-broadcast services as requiring special equipment to receive and decode, and  including a contractual relationship between provider and receiver.

The three filings against Turms/WIPE and Parable/WPBC -- two from Pilosov, and one, submitted by the High-Frequency Parties (Christopher Rumbaugh, Kim Elliot and Bennett Kobb) against Parable -- raise substantive issues. We have no indication yet, however, that the FCC will address them, or do anything but routinely grant the licenses and carry on with the U.S. HF broadcasting service as it has for the more than half-century it has existed.