Doug Lung /
07.28.2011 01:55 PM
NAB Says Broadband Plan Will Create Large Broadcast TV Disruption

This week the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) released the results of an analysis on the impact of removing 120 MHz of spectrum (TV Channels 31–51) for TV broadcasting purposes.

A total of 672 full-power TV stations (out of 1,735 full-power TV stations) would have to move to a new channel. There wouldn't be enough spectrum left in the top 10 TV markets for all stations to have a channel—73 stations in these markets would have to go dark.

Due to shared tower space and the complications involved in changing channels at a TV transmitter site (see my article Genachowski Shows Lack of Understanding in Channel Change Complexity), the NAB said that more than half of all TV stations would probably have to disrupt service to millions of viewers for periods of a few hours up to a few weeks to allow the TV channels to be "repacked" into different (lower) channel assignments.

"If the FCC's National Broadband Plan to recapture 20 more TV channels is implemented, service disruption, confusion and inconvenience for local television viewers will make the 2009 DTV transition seem like child's play," said Gordon Smith, NAB president. "NAB endorses truly voluntary spectrum auctions. Our concern is that the FCC plan will morph into involuntary, because it is impossible for the FCC to meet spectrum reclamation goals without this becoming a government mandate."

Smith added, "We've waited patiently for over a year for FCC data on how the Broadband Plan impacts broadcasters, and more importantly, the tens of millions of viewers who rely every day on local TV for news, entertainment, sports and lifeline emergency weather information. Even Congress can't get information from the FCC. All we are seeking is more transparency. We have but one chance to get this right if we are to preserve future innovation for broadcasters and our viewers."

Fortunately there is a bill in the House of Representatives that would give broadcasters some certainty about their future. I wrote about it last week in House Bill Would Limit Spectrum Incentive Auction Plan. The bad news is it appears there is some risk that deficit reduction packages might remove some of the protection provided in that bill.

NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton issued a statement Tuesday saying, "NAB is deeply concerned about provisions currently in Senate Majority Leader Reid's legislation that would threaten the future of a great American institution—free and local television. We will work with him as the process moves forward in hopes that our issues can be addressed."

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Posted by: Brian Smith
Fri, 07-29-2011 09:19 AM Report Comment
The ATSC folks need to replace the current DTV standard in this country with one that is more spectrum efficient than MPEG-4 can achieve in order to make the proposed broadband plan work. Since that technology does not yet exist, one has to ask also why the broadband providers should be allowing so much "spam" and "computer virus" traffic to pass on their systems, if they were to control that stuff that alone would permit broadband to consume much less bandwidth.
Posted by: Anonymous
Mon, 04-09-2012 02:34 PM Report Comment
I'm trying to ptorome the idea of a utility broadband channel, separated off from the bandwidth used to deliver consumer services.The point is that,up until now, broadband has been used simply to provide Internet access, telephony and television. However broadband can be also used for a range of other purposes. Broadband is basically an always-on channel for data. It can therefore be used to, for instance, support smart metering, allow remote management of electricity use to manage peak energy demand, deliver telecare and telehealth services, and support local security services. It also could be used to provide access to local services and information; including for instance local educational resources for schools, without data needing to be sent onto the internet and back.Many of these services are becoming increasingly important to deliver key Government Policy Agendas such as Smart Metering, Renewable Energy, fuel poverty, health and social care of the aging population and so on, and have a clear and growing economic valueSome of these can be done over wireless or the normal telephone line, but the low bandwidth and, more importantly, poor quality of service, limit the capabilities of the services offered.The problem is that there are a number of barriers to broadband being utilised in this way: Many people do not have broadband so a ubiquitous service cannot be provided At the moment these services could only be delivered over the Internet, which means that QoS is more difficult to guarantee. It also adds unnecessarily to the data transport costs of Communications Providers The Communications Providers could offer this over a VPN via their existing broadband service to customers, but this would require service providers to make arrangements with each Communications Provider separately It would also challenge the Communications Providers business model in that they are paid by the end customer to provide broadband internet access, but if service providers such as Hospitals paid for dedicated bandwidth to provide a channel into people's homes to deliver healthcare services, this would have to be taken away from the bandwidth they provide to the end userThe result Consumers are losing the benefits of valuable services Public policy objectives are more difficult to achieve Important revenue streams are being lost which could significantly contribute to the business case for upgrading the broadband infrastructure in the UK Business opportunities are being lostA PropositionThat a universal service obligation be laid on all owners of networks providing superfast broadband services to customers to provide a dedicated and firewalled channel to all homes, separate to that used to deliver conventional triple play. The channel would be funded through the providers of services over it and could potentially provide a significant income stream to the network owner.The bandwidth required is for negotiation and may depend partly on the capacity of the network, but could indicatively be 2Mbs symmetrical.It would need to be managed as an open access network and used to deliver services from a range of providers, who would pay according to a clear and transparent funding mechanism.The time is ripe for this, as the extra revenues it would provide would add to the business case for the move to superfast broadband, which, in turn would provide spare capacity to make it easy to provide an open channel to deliver these services.

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