The world of radio transmitters is getting ever smaller in size—and bigger in scope. “We’re always pushing the envelope to get more power out of a smaller box,” explains Kevin Rodgers, president and CEO of Nautel. The company is the world’s largest manufacturer of transmitters for AM/FM radio stations, which is based, fittingly, in the small rural community of Hackett’s Cove, N.S. “Littler means more efficient, which means they use less power.”
“We make high-power solid-state RF amplifiers, primarily for the broadcast industry,” says Rodgers, who joined Nautel more than 30 years ago. Nautel’s since supplied more than 15,000 transmitters to 177 countries. The top 10 stations in North America rely on Nautel.
Overseas, Nautel works closely with in-country agents to seek opportunities in all corners of the globe. Word of mouth brought them recently to India, where the public broadcaster All India Radio brought Nautel a massive challenge: providing enough transmitters to cover the entire country or, as the marketing slogan went, “broadcasting to a billion.”
A two-year contract doubled their production requirements and resulted in 27 high-powered, state-of-the-art medium-wave AM broadcaster transmitters supplied, shipped and installed halfway around the world.
Just this month, Nautel wrapped up another impressive feat. “The largest transmitter in the world,” says Rodgers. “It’s in Hungary, two megawatts, and capable of broadcasting from Ireland to Kuala Lumpur.” For perspective, he adds, that’s 40 times larger than anything on the air in Canada. (Relatively speaking, it’s also very small, at just 250 sq. m—less than a third of the previous model.)
And while the 230 brains at Nautel could just sit back and enjoy their success, they’re instead thinking hard about diversifying and evolving into other applications. Up next, following considerable interest from governments, is a next-generation sonar amplifier to replace hull-mounted sonar units on Navy ships. It will be smaller, lighter and far more efficient, naturally.