The CATV system using a cable is generally viewed on UHF channels

Dear Editor,

I am constrained to respond to Tony Vieira for the last time on this issue (out of necessity) so that the public is not unwittingly misled (‘Craig’s letter contained numerous areas of misinformation’ SN, Nov 30). Mr Vieira’s personal opinions are not supported by facts. Let me emphasize for clarity that CATV was developed in the US in the 1940s and primarily served areas where traditional TV signals were weak. One powerful central antenna was located in a strategic position to receive signals from Over-the-Air broadcasts. These were amplified and fed via cable to households in the community, hence the name Community Antenna Television. This is well documented in Eisenmann, ‘From Community Antennas to Wired Cities’ (2000) and Smith, Ralph Lee, The Wired Nation… (1972)

Contrary to these scholarly authorities Mr Vieira states, “CATV was used in the US for transmitting cable signals. This is total hogwash.” Just two lines down he wrote, “CATV frequencies … can only be used if they are locked away in a cable.” This is the kind of incoherence which is passed off as facts.

The CATV system using a cable is generally viewed on UHF channels (above 13 on a standard TV set); a typical US city has dozens of Over-the-Air broadcast stations which needed the same UHF input on a TV set, therefore it was physically impossible for a person to view CATV via a cable and still receive Over-the-Air UHF channels ‒ it was one or the other. A person must physically plug out the CATV cable and plug in the antenna coax. This problem was overcome by using a Set Top Box so that all the channels of the cable company can be decoded within that box and then fed to the TV using one analog channel; in so doing UHF over-the-air broadcast can still be received with just one cable going into the TV. Most modern TVs carry built-in auto Cable/Air decoders. Every child knows that UHF channels in Guyana have a corresponding CATV Cable assignment, eg, HGPTV Ch 16 Cable 67, MTV Ch 14 Cable 65 and so on.

Even though this fact is well known Mr Vieira proceeds to say “they cannot be legally transmitted over the air.” Under which law or convention? Even if that were so, he is yet to comprehend that restriction from doing so is not the same as inability to do so.

I quoted from the Broadcasting Acts of countries on each continent, all of which included multichannel wireless or cable systems as part of the standard for broadcasting [Ed note: Much of this was edited for length]. Mr Vieira, the national authority on TV, sought the shelter of a flimsy Wikipedia definition. Is Mr Vieira serious about invoking Wikipedia (many portions are written and updated by high school kids) as the standard for law in Guyana? What mockery is this?

I will not respond to Mr Vieira’s pointless pontifications on spectrum allocation, since legally that is the remit of the NFMU; that agency is capable of putting his ramble to shame all by itself. But there is one question I will respond to: “Where in the world are cable systems allowed to transmit in the broadcast band?”  I’m suggesting Colombia, Panama, Belarus, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, Madagascar and South Africa. These countries were randomly chosen, two from each continent, from the ITU supported website dvb/dvb_worldwide/, the official repository for information regarding deployment of digital TV worldwide. Simple logic will bring this query of his to naught; if there is nowhere else in the world where analog channels are used for wireless digital TV then he is actually saying a particular manufacturer set up shop, did research and development and put out a product line to be deployed only for one company in Guyana. Is that logical?

Because of the rapid deployment of high end internet bandwidth and the prevalence of fibre optic cables, it did not make business sense for US investors to  invest in wireless cable technology in the UHF band. The US is transitioning directly from coax to IPTV over fibre optic, therefore there is no demand  for 600-700 Mhz for this purpose. The extra bandwidth created from going digital is referred to as the ‘digital dividend’ the best uses for which every country must decide for itself. The US is using theirs mainly for advanced mobile services and mobile TV.

Because of the current glut in the USA, the epicentre for world data services, the UHF is being chopped into blocks and auctioned; companies like Yahoo, Google and Telco giants are going out of their way to lap up these spectrum. What is reserved today may soon be placed on the auction block tomorrow, therefore it is not true to say that the USA has reserved the “14 to 70 in the UHF for broadcasting.” Even if this is so that is a country with hundreds of independent TV stations and will need to reserve far more frequencies for that purpose than Guyana will need in 1000 years.

Finally, with respect to the Brig General (rtd) Joe Singh’s report that was alluded to by Mr Vieira, I only received my copy a few days ago and even though I am still reviewing it I have seen enough of it to state boldly without fear that it is decidedly biased and will receive a robust response from me in the coming days.


Yours faithfully,

Leonard Craig

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