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What You Think

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6 March 2020 - 10:53am
Here is an further angle to the powering of NBN services. My mother in law is in her 80s and has one of those emergency call systems around her neck for medical emergencies. She was recently 'upgraded' to the NBN. Then her emergency call system told her that the phone lines supplied by the NBN would not be powered during a blackout and that she should convert to a SIM powered mobile system. Thankfully the government has realised the problem and offers subsidies to cover the cost of that... but why is this not talked about when discussing the NBN roll out. It seems that it would be an important thing to be aware of. Thanks to StJohn and AnthonyKoala for discussing it. Embrace innovations in audio: Joan Warner at #DBS2020
Anthony The Koala
6 March 2020 - 10:48am
Mr StJohn made a valuable observation in regards a power failure in an FTTN (fibre to the node) connection where smart speakers may be utilized in an emergency situation.

Here are applications for various connection types such as FTTP, FTTB, FTTC, FTTN, HFC and Sky Muster™ which may apply to broadcasting stations and households.

FTTP (fibre to the premises) - a fibre optic cable is connected to the premises. There is no electrical connection from the fibre optic cable to the premises. Power is required to power up the network terminal device ('NTD'), the interface between the fibre optic cable and the provider's router.

If there is a power blackout, two-way communications is not possible to the fibre optic cable's NTD. However an external battery may allow operation of the NTD and router for a specified number of hours depending on the capacity of the battery. Typically it's 4 hours according to the NBNCo.

Remark not mentioned on the NBNCo site: While the fibre optic cable continues to emit light during a power blackout, there is NOTHING to indicate the source of powering the fibre optic cable transceivers (transmitter/receiver). For example if the power goes out at the transceiver's source - that is where is the power source of the fibre optic cable system?

FTTB (fibre to the building) - even though there is a fibre optic to the building, unlike FTTP, there is no ability to connect a power backup system during a power blackout.

Remark: In such a situation, for radio studios using IP communications from the studio to the tx, the radio station should seek an alternative to FTTB including installing FTTP and/or a microwave link from studio to tx.

FTTC (fibre to the curb) - a fibre optic cable runs in front of the premises. Four premises are connected to a hub located in the pit. Each premises uses a copper cable from the hub to the premises. Power is required to power the hub from the premises.

In a blackout, no two-way communication is possible using FTTC. However a backup system is possible through the use of a battery backup to power the FTTC's NTD and router connected to the NTD.

Remark not mentioned on the NBNCo site: laser light from the fibre optic cable terminates at the hub. The particular hub connection to the premises requires hub. Suppose there is backup power in the premises, like FTTP, there is nothing to indicate in the NBNCo's website the source of power of the fibre optic transceivers (transmitter/receiver).

FTTN (fibre to the node) - a fibre optic cable runs to a node. The node is powered by the mains and should there be a power failure there is a battery backup located in the node. Within the node, there are interfaces between the fibre optic cable and the copper wire for each household. The household's copper cable is interfaced to a NTD and then router.

In a blackout, the household's NTD and provider's router will not operate. No backup battery of the NTD and provider's router is possible at the premises. The only backup is possible at the node.

Remark not mentioned on the NBNCo site: StJohn mentioned that if the node's backup battery fails, then communication via the internet and voip telephone fail.

HFC (hybrid fibre coaxial) - if a blackout occurs, backup power is not possible at the premises at all.

FW (fixed wireless) - during a blackout, no backup power is possible especially if the fixed wireless towers have no backup.

Remark: for households, have a mobile phone as as backup. For radio studios, consider using alternative means of communicating between studio and tx such as a microwave link.

According to the NBNCo, in such a situation, where a "...premises is located within a Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster™ satellite area...", the householder "...will have the option of keeping the existing landline phone service active across the copper network....." Source NBNCo.

Sky Muster™ satellite - power backup is possible. But if the satellite loses power, the household may still have access to the 'landline' (POTS) system. Householders may need to talk to the provider.

I avert readers to the NBNCo's information on power failures to the various methods of NBN connection:
Source:
https://www.nbnco.com.au/learn/what-happens-in-a-power-blackout

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield
Embrace innovations in audio: Joan Warner at #DBS2020
StJohn
5 March 2020 - 1:24pm
As it has been pointed out previously by CRA digital broadcasting is the cheapest way of getting the program from a studio to a large audience.

If all of the audience use smart speakers and landline & mobile phones and there is an emergency these devices will not work meaning no warnings when no one owns a radio.
In the recent fires the tower serving Bateman's Bay/Moruya was burnt. This stopped mobile phones and wireless internet from working. Even without burning the tower the power line to the site is burnt down, Fire controllers will not allow a tanker filled with diesel to drive to the tower site to replenish the generator every day.

Remember also that lots of Australians have Fibre to the Node NBN and if the power fails in that street, when the batteries in the Node cabinet go flat, the smart speaker and the computers will no longer receive warnings. This also applies to mobile phone base stations as well.
Embrace innovations in audio: Joan Warner at #DBS2020
Anthony The Koala
5 March 2020 - 6:12am
Dear StJohn,
Thank you for your informative reply, especially the distinction between orbiting and geo-stationary satellites. You gave an application on the use of a servo mounted on a moving ship in order to track a geo-stationary satellite.

In regards to standards informing ACMA policy, while I cannot give an example, may I suggest that industry and other interest groups involved in lobbying and consultation may also contribute and inform the ACMA's policy formation.

In addition when you mentioned the ability to broadcast hyperlinks, it was not necessarily limited to emergency situations. A DRM+/DAB+ radio fitted with a wireless and/or wired network connection could well inform the broadcaster or sponsor or other entity in regards to (i) feedback to the particular entity requesting information from the user (listener) for example whether the listener likes/dislikes the music track and (ii) providing further information to the user about a sponsor's product/service. The applications of having a wireless/wired network attached to the DRM+/DAB+ receiver are endless and not limited to what I mentioned.

But then even if the applications of hypertext to a wired/wireless connected DRM+/DAB+ radio is possible, could such applications be monetized. This is apart from the application to emergency radio.

Finally in my experience of LED lighting operating from the mains, I have opened a failed LED light. Obviously I have disconnected the failed LED lamp. Having dismantled the LED, the failure is not necessarily the smd (surface mount device) LED elements but rather the switchmode supply. The LED components work OK. And yes the power supply of the LED lamp consists of a bridge rectifier, a transformer and regulator IC. The cost in price and time of replacing the regulating IC may well be prohibitive.

Nevertheless, the mains-operated LED lamp is a radio communications device under s48(1) of the Radiocommunications Act (Cth). Given that switchmode power supplies integrated into the mains-operated LED lamp produce RF, these devices have to comply with the minimum level of RF emissions.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield


Commercial Radio wants a nationwide roll out of DAB+ for emergencies
StJohn
4 March 2020 - 6:03pm
Anthony,
The short rod antennas used for satellite communications is for the low orbit satellites which are continuously moving in the sky and are typically used for GPS and phones. Go to the Telstra site for satellite phone charges.... VAST carrying ABC radio is 36,000 km from earth over New Britain. The antenna on the satellite is shaped to cover the whole of Australia which is why a dish must be used. "The Spirit of Tasmania" has VAST reception whilst at sea and uses a radome covered dish with servo. As I said the USA has the only operational pay radio satellite service covering a much smaller area than Australia when seen from above the equator. So our signal strength is lower. If you use low orbit satellites they all have to radiate your signal increasing the price to make it uneconomic. No one is going to buy a satellite radio just for the occasional probably irrelevant emergency warning.
All the ACMA has to do is to convene a meeting of the Australian Standards and update the digital radio standard and then get legislation to make it compulsory requirement for sale. This is what has happened with the Design standards for vehicles. The digital radio standard is not compulsory at present.

Whilst digital broadcasters can transmit hyperlinks, the whole point is for the emergency system to work when the mobile broadband/Wireless and fibre to the node does not.
All switchmode power supplies contain a bridge rectifier. Remember that all the LED lighting use switchmode power supplies. Right through to large motors for controlling the speed eg. electric trains.
Medium Frequency (AM) coverage area depends on the conductivity of the ground not only at the transmitter. Most of Australia is very dry!
From my experience in the emergency services, the situation commanders from the police, fire, ambulance and others involved meet in one place and can all see and talk to each other to determine tactics. As a result they can say to the main roads, block these roads and this same message along with the geographic coordinates, could be sent from a computer in the command centre to the ABC for broadcast through the EWS system. Since the messages are queued in the EWS system the BOM can insert weather maps from their mainframe computer when updates are generated. The commanders will have a digital radio so they can see what is broadcast at any time.
Commercial Radio wants a nationwide roll out of DAB+ for emergencies
Anthony The Koala
4 March 2020 - 6:22am
The jettisoning of AAP is $5 million from a planned $100 million cut to Nine Media's budget. Cuts are a necessary part of business in order to survive. Currently Nine's FTA earnings are down 36% while its radio business's revenue dropped 63%. News Corp will cut $10 million from its costs.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/nine-entertainment-plans-100m-in-cuts-as-free-to-air-struggles/news-story/668bc1be0df567ea8f8ea7962fe56daa (subscription needed)

https://mumbrella.com.au/australian-associated-press-to-close-in-june-619686

Sure some of the affected staff will be absorbed into Nine's and News Corp's newsroom. But not all.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/aap-closure-aap-newwire-pagemasters-job-losses-media-news/307f708f-2516-4ce6-b9d5-28ca5327d56a

AAP has been a great training ground for many aspiring journalists. "Great" means that the trainees were rotated in covering racing, finance, the courts and parliaments. Many of the court and parliamentary reports not covered by the main media providers have been provided by the journalists of AAP.

While 2GB's resident court reporter Gil Taylor covers the courts, will the staff absorbed into Nine Media from AAP cover those issues formerly covered by AAP such as the courts and parliaments? Remember that our parliaments report the laws made in parliament, the politics and machinations between various MPs and lobbyists while the courts interpret the laws and those who violate the laws.

Time will tell on whether reports from our parliaments and courts will continue in depth.

AAP's CEO Mr Bruce Davidson to "drop the axe" on AAP was due to the "...decline in the number of media companies subscribing to its services in recent years..."

https://www.9news.com.au/national/aap-closure-aap-newwire-pagemasters-job-losses-media-news/307f708f-2516-4ce6-b9d5-28ca5327d56a.

Mr Davidson's statement may well be valid. If AAP's revenues continue to decline due to media companies not supporting AAP's service, the business would not be viable.

Consequently there's the risk of media organisations not relying on AAP not using news sources as unverified. I stress the word "risk" as the AAP may not be the only source of verified news.

However, there may be a reputational risk of the particular media organisation if it uses unverified news. Taken to its extreme, you cannot rely on the truth of social media's production of news which may well bear false witness against God. The same could well be said of printed magazines.

The day that social media and some print magazines tell the truth will be the day that martians land in Canowindra and chooks lay square eggs. Unlikely.

It follows that there may well be one source of media that most Australians trust, that is our ABC. Like a person being regular from a high-fibre diet, the ABC is regularly under attack as it has been by News Corp for many decades.

The ABC funding model from appropriations from the Federal Parliament:
In 2018, the IPA wanted the ABC to be privatised,
https://ipa.org.au/ipa-today/ipa-urges-rethink-of-state-ownership-of-the-abc.

As recently as the 17th February 2020, there may be inspiration from No. 10 Downing St who want to change the funding model of the BBC from a licence to a subscription service.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51530752

What is to stop a think tank in Australia wanting to change the ABC to a subscription model? The current BBC model allows for exemptions from the TV licence for people aged 75 and over. The subscription model does not provide for concessions.

The issue of bias especially in the ABC's coverage of "climate change" may well be a valid statement. But it is out of the scope of the topic. A separate topic on a proposed subscription method of funding the ABC could well address the topic of bias.

It is valid to say that the quality of news costs money. The ABC is no different. That's why the current funding model is an appropriation from the Federal Parliament. If the trend in private enterprise is to diminish the quality of the verifiability of news continues, the only source is the public good produced by our ABC.

Putting the ABC behind a paywall and subscription service is to put access to a public good in fewer hands.

Thank you,
Anthony of researching Belfield
AAP to close after 85 years
Michael Erb
2 March 2020 - 1:08pm
I was moving some boxes that I had in storage for 19 years. I came across three volumes of "The Art of Personality Radio" that Jay had written. Later that evening I did an Internet search for Jay Trachman and learned that he had passed in 2009. I was deeply saddened to learn this.

Jay was instrumental in helping me grow in my earliest days of radio in the mid-80's. He was a coach for me and I subscribed to his newsletter. I can't say enough positive thing about Jay.

Thank you for all you did Jay. You were a great mentor and I pray you are resting in peace.
Vale Jay Trachman
jamescridland
1 March 2020 - 4:19pm
"I still like the old radio theme more than the tv theme"

I'm also a fan of horse-drawn carriages, fountain pens and AM radio receivers. However, like all of the above, the Majestic Fanfare has no hope of appealing to anyone younger than 50.

The Majestic Fanfare is fine for ABC Radio National, and in my view, should stay there, given its historical significance. For every other ABC service, mix-outs and treatments of the music used on the television should be the plan, for a coherent ABC News sonic brand. As an immigrant, the first time I heard the Majestic Fanfare, my mouth was agape.

It's basic sonic branding to have the same music on all services; astonishingly, ABC News Radio has a random, over-the-top, super-busy piece of orchestral music, which you'll hear nowhere else. As spoof news music, it's worse than the pastiche from The Day Today, a wonderful mickey-take from the UK ten years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTGE9153VFE

A coherent news brand is something that even the BBC is incapable of (witness the differences between the BBC World Service's branding, carried here in its entirety on SBS Radio 3, and BBC World News (here on Fetch, Foxtel and SBS in the mornings). But in an age where all media is under attack, it should be really obvious when you're listening to ABC News. Right now, the ABC has at least three different music themes, and take it from my fresh ears: the two on radio are simply not fit for purpose any more.

PS: Thanks for listening to Podnews. I have fun doing that.
ABC News flash briefings get smarter
Michael Mullins
29 February 2020 - 11:41am
Steve, thank you for the discussion. I’m particularly interested in your mention that the commands for the radioinfo flash briefing don’t work for some listeners and that you ‘are now in the process of refining [your] radioinfo flash briefing for all the platforms’. That suggests you have control over determining which commands will work, and that it’s not all in the hands of Alexa and Google.

Since the early days of Google Home, I’ve been in touch several times with the ABC Classic help desk about the issue that asking Google for ‘ABC Classic’ or ‘ABC Classic FM’ always plays ABC Classic 2, not the main station. The ABC help desk was concerned but in the end insisted that it was a ’third party’ issue that they have no control over, with the implication that I needed to find a human at Google who was willing to work it out.

The day will come - perhaps quite soon - when the survival of radio stations depends upon listeners being able to easily find them on smart speakers.


EDITOR COMMENT: Alexa does allow creation of flash briefings, which is what Steve is working on. Google... still struggling! See here for more on Alexa https://developer.amazon.com/en-US/docs/alexa/flashbriefing/understand-the-flash-briefing-skill-api.html
ABC News flash briefings get smarter
Radio Advocate
28 February 2020 - 9:31pm
Love the vulnerability of great Breakfast Radio Hosts, Lucy Holmes makes it real with this moment.

Lucy Holmes breaks down on air revealing she needs emergency surgery

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