FCC Kyboshes OFDM Experimental License Request
February 14, 2011
WASHINGTON: An experimental license for a new system
for mobile DTV transmission was denied by the FCC. The license was sought by WatchTV,
a Portland, Ore., low-power TV concern headed by Greg Herman, also president of
SpectrumEvolution.org, a coalition
advocating for the new hybrid DTV/broadband delivery system. The denial was based
both on the technology and a proposal to move four analog LPTV signals to
digital multicast tiers on different frequencies.
“This is to inform you that the above-captioned request for modification is
denied,” the FCC’s Media Bureau chief, William Lake, wrote in the determination
addressed to Herman. “Although your submission is styled as a request for an
experimental authorization, the request is a very unusual one. The proposal
contemplates that analog TV service from four stations would cease and their
programming would be transmitted from a different digital TV station on a
multicast basis. The request contains no analysis of the potential impact on
consumers; it merely assumes that virtually all viewers who previously received
the analog signals will be able to receive the multicast digital signal.”
Low-power TV stations and translators were not subject to the June 2009
digital-transition deadline. A date for LPTVs remains pending. Lake goes on to
say WatchTV proposes to convert the four analog stations to “a different
technology previously implemented in China, intended to support what is described
as broadband service. That technology is inconsistent with the existing ATSC
standard for transmission of digital television in the United States.” SpectrumEvolution.org , and by
extension, WatchTV, is promoting the use of orthogonal frequency division
multiplexing for delivering mobile DTV and broadband over the air. The group
was seeking an experimental license in the Portland market to test its technology,
which couples OFDM and receivers using a Chinese standard, Converged Mobile
Multimedia Broadcasting. Co-OFDM was a competitor for transmitting regular DTV in
the United States before 8-vestigial sideband won out.
“This commission supports innovation and technological experimentation.
However, we are also mindful to ensure that experiments not undermine our
rules,” Lake wrote. “An experimental license is not to be used to introduce a
new service that does not comply with our rules, as this request appears to
“Although the proposal itself is silent about the number of participants in the
experiment, it is our understanding from the applicant’s counsel that the
applicant hopes that thousands will participate. In addition, you, as the
applicant’s CEO, have been quoted as saying that, ‘If the technology works as
well as anticipated, deployment can start within a year, with widespread
penetration, including rural areas, faster than any other technology.”
Lake says the request appears to be more appropriate as a developmental
license, which would require a petition for making an exception to current FCC
rules regarding 8-VSB, the DTV standard developed by the Advanced Television
Systems Committee. Any such rulemaking would likely need to be accompanied by a
similar standards process, he said.
“In short, the information submitted with the request is not persuasive that
the proposal is truly for a technical experiment,” Lake wrote in the denial
dated Feb. 10. “It does not describe except in the most general of terms what
tests, if any, will be performed. The commission generally looks favorably on
experiments designed to examine technical issues. We cannot, however, authorize
an experiment that appears designed to establish a new service that is not
currently permitted under commission rules.”
SpectrumEvolution.org emerged last
November when it announced demonstrating the OFDM-CMMB technology for the FCC. Seven
video content streams were said to be fed to 12 different CMMB-based receivers, from cell
phones to dedicated handheld devices made by Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG and
Sony-Ericsson. CMMB America is a member of
SpectrumEvolution.org, which says “tens of millions” of CBBM
devices are deployed around the world. The company is a division of Hong
Kong-based CMMB Vision, which makes printed circuit boards for CMMB devices.
Aside from promoting the use of OFDM and CMMB, the group’s aim is to preserve
broadcast TV spectrum. It recently announced that it engaged Washington, D.C.
firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough to carry its water on Capitol Hill.
The firm’s senior policy advisor and a former Congressman, Ron Klink was named
point man for the group.
-- Deborah D. McAdams
See . . .
November 24, 2010
: “ ” Broadcast Group
Demonstrates OFDM Broadband
The group demonstrated how orthogonal frequency division multiplexing could
simultaneously enable mobile broadcasting and Internet access.
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