On Tuesday, November 20, IdahoPTV engineering staff powered up a new IdahoPTV digital television “fill-in” translator on channel 17 serving Idaho City, the county seat of Boise County. This culminates more than five years of work to return regular IdahoPTV television service to the residents of one of Idaho’s most famous mining towns, a place that more than a century ago was our state’s largest city, but where today regular cell phone service is not yet a reality.
The need for this translator began in the late 1990’s when the Federal Communications Commission issued IdahoPTV a digital television channel in Boise that was not effective at navigating the mountains of central Idaho. Historically, IdahoPTV had successfully served rural communities like Idaho City with an analog signal from our main transmitter located on Deer Point, near Boise.
At IdahoPTV’s invitation, the FCC sent staff in 2006 to visit the Idaho City area, to see firsthand the mountainous conditions that Idahoans take for granted, and the digital television reception problems associated with this location. FCC staffers also had the opportunity to participate in a Boise County Commission meeting and hear first hand concerns of local residents.
A year later, the FCC offered broadcasters nationwide an opportunity to apply for special “DTV translator fill-in” licenses that would allow us operate equipment to better serve affected areas. IdahoPTV applied for and received six fill-in licenses, including Idaho City, Emmett (eastside), Boise Foothills, Glenns Ferry, Wood River Valley (southern portion) and Pocatello (northeast side). Months later, IdahoPTV secured competitive grant funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the State of Idaho for the needed equipment.
The new Idaho City translator is located north-northwest of downtown Idaho City and will serve people in the near-surrounding areas, including Duquette Pines subdivision. Viewers will need to point their rooftop antennas in that direction and then re-scan their digital television to acquire the new signal.
For the next several weeks, we'll be in a testing mode for the new translator. We are also very excited to be partnering with the Idaho Department of Homeland Security to provide enhanced emergency alert services to the county residents, government and sheriff’s office. Special thanks go to IdahoPTV technical staff members Rich Van Genderen and Larry Smith. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the efforts of Idaho Power, the Idaho Department of Public Works and the US Forest Service's Idaho City District and Interim Ranger Mary Faurot. USFS staff members have had their hands full with a very busy summer fire season, and we appreciate their efforts with this project.
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