Coalition for Free TV releases Broadcast Overlay Report

The Coalition for Free TV and Broadband and the Sinclair Broadcast Group announced the release of the Broadcast Overlay Report, its alternative plan to use broadcast spectrum to provide broadband services on a national level.

Titled “The Economic Value of Broadcast Innovation–Impact on the U.S. Treasury,” the report lays out a plan that, if enacted, it claims would raise more than $60 billion for the U.S. Treasury compared to a broadcast television spectrum auction that is projected to raise less than $20 billion net.

It would also allow television stations to participate in the future wireless infrastructure. The plan uses high power/high tower television broadcast facilities to provide large area coverage for “point-to-multipoint” (broadcast) data/services capable of being converged with “point-to-point” (unicast) data/services provided by other wireless operators.

Mark Aitken, vice president of advanced technology at Sinclair, said a lot of the discussions about next-generation broadcast technologies bring “broadcast overlay” architectures to the forefront of possibilities.

“A broadcast overlay service that is technically compatible with commercial wireless networks would allow users to consume more data at a lower cost with a higher quality of service and bring broadcasters new revenue opportunities through new ancillary services,” Aitken said. “Foregoing auctions of television broadcast spectrum would mean a WIN-WIN-WIN for the U.S. Treasury-consumers-broadcasters under this kind of a plan.”

The report concludes that the best way to meet the projected explosive growth in mobile IP is to allow broadcasters to use point-to-multipoint broadcast overlay technology to provide the most efficient possible delivery of high-bandwidth data to mobile users.

Simply allocating more spectrum to commercial wireless operators would do very little to address projected massive capacity shortfalls and would do even less to address Federal budget deficits. Commercial mobile networks based on cellular one-to-one architectures are not designed to efficiently carry a portion of the mobile data traffic that is likely to grow the fastest.

The odds of the technology or report ever seeing the light of day are slim. Similar proposals were made to the FCC more than a year ago and were ignored. Congress is close to requiring broadcast spectrum auctions, which have bi-partisan support.