In our unpredictable world, first responders depend on reliable, robust communication.
All day, every day, KET’s 16 broadcast transmitters and towers provide a public safety backbone to support first responders and law enforcement on the local, state, and federal levels.
The KET network uses a vast array of microwave radio links and “over-the air” broadcast transmitters to deliver KET’s four channels – KET, KET2, the Kentucky Channel, and KET PBS KIDS – to the entire state of Kentucky and into parts of the seven surrounding states. If you receive TV service from a cable or satellite company, your TV provider is receiving the KET signal from this broadcast transmission network and delivering it to your home. If you receive TV over-the-air, you’re connected directly to the KET broadcast network.
The same transmission network infrastructure that delivers the latest Masterpiece drama, Nature documentary, and Sesame Street to your home, also helps first responders, state agencies, and the federal government communicate.
KET maintains and oversees 15 towers. On these towers are 100 non-broadcast communications systems (antennas and associated equipment). KET’s microwave network and broadcast transmission sites provide secure locations for the installation of emergency communications equipment and towers to place antennas. Each site is backed up with an emergency generator and can run for up to 72 hours after loss of commercial power. Fuel can be delivered to those sites in the event of an emergency.
This infrastructure helps KET partner with and support a wide variety of state and federal agencies.
“Kentucky Emergency Management, the Kentucky National Guard, police mobile data, the Kentucky Department of Transportation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife — all have their antennas on many of our towers,” said Curtis Harper, KET’s director of transmission systems.
“We also supply, in many cases, building space for their equipment and the power,” Harper continued, “saving these agencies a great deal of operating expense. In the case of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), KET engineers also maintain the equipment which provides 24/7 weather-radio transmissions to the public.
The KET network supports NOAA’s National Weather Service with 13 NOAA weather transmitters on KET towers.
These 100- to 1,000-foot towers — much taller than regional radio or cell-phone towers — serve as a well-distributed statewide communications framework benefiting each of these entities. That’s because back when KET went on the air in 1968, transmitter towers were constructed in strategic locations all over the state in order to reach every Kentucky public school. Those tall towers help provide an unobstructed transmission path to viewers. Today, that wide disbursement continues to provide an efficient use of taxpayer dollars, often eliminating the need for other agencies to construct their own towers.
KET transmission sites host equipment used by the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. And many sites are used by local agencies for communications, including sheriffs’ departments and local emergency management.
The federal government’s Emergency Alert System also takes advantage of KET’s towers. In the event of a national emergency, a special receiver in KET’s network center would override KET’s broadcast in order to communicate vital information. It’s tested weekly, and the federal government conducts nationwide tests periodically, Harper noted.
KET’s public safety infrastructure — towers, transmitters, interconnection equipment, and more — are the result of more than 50 years of state and federal government investments.
Public Safety Partners
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Ky. Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
Ky.Division of Forestry
Ky. Division of Emergency Management, Emergency Alert System
Ky. Emergency Warning System
Ky. State Police
Louisville Fire Department
Regional EMS and Sheriffs’ Departments
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
US FirstNet Early Alert System