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CTB Spectrum Services Two and Landover 2 LLC score LPTV CPs

Two applicants—CTB Spectrum Services Two and Landover 2 LLC—were responsible for most of the low power TV (LPTV) applications listed in the FCC Public Notice Low Power/Television Translators: Proposed Construction Permits – Report WIN11-2 released Tuesday. The applications are mostly in rural areas, with multiple channels in communities including Bismarck, ND and Hilo, HI.

You may remember CTB (Cellular Terrestrial Broadcasting) from last year's Broadcast Engineering Forum at the FCC. Vern Fotheringham, Chairman of CTB Networks, participated in the panel on “Cellularization of Broadcast Architecture.” Landover 2 LLC has many more applications listed in the FCC Public Notice than CTB. A review of some of the applications shows the connection between the companies. The Landover 2 applications list W. Theodore Pierson, Jr. as the contact representative. Mr. Pierson is listed as President, Board Member in the CTB applications.

CTB Networks says it is “aggregating UHF spectrum in major markets and transportation corridors nationwide, developing the first nationwide, hybrid broadcast and unicast wireless content delivery network for carriers, broadcasters, programmers, and content owners.”

CTB stations will use the ATSC standard for broadcasting, but, as their web site says its “patent pending 'Cellular Terrestrial Broadcasting' technology creates massive increases in capacity by enabling multi-frequency networks (“MFN”) over DTS, and efficient spectrum re-use via cellular like handover technology.”

I found it interesting that one of the “CTB Solutions” is an “outsourced network option for broadcasters facing FCC spectrum repacking/reallocation decisions.” As I've pointed out in previous articles, if the FCC is successful in carrying out the National Broadband Plan's recommendation to take 120 MHz from the remaining UHF broadcast TV spectrum, there will be little if any spectrum left over for secondary services such as LPTV in many markets. If CTB can hold onto a few channels in a market, their system could provide a way displaced LPTV stations could stay on the air.

A conventional MFN would require at least two channels to provide 19.39 Mbps of ATSC payload data bandwidth. CTB's proprietary technology claims it can reuse frequencies and provide sector coverage to increase bandwidth up to 465.36 Mbps using 6 TV channels and dividing each channel's coverage into 4 sectors. Note that this is conventional ATSC bandwidth. Using the current A/153 mobile DTV standard with mixed rate coding, the combined payload bandwidth would be reduced to 96 Mbps with the same system (6 channels, 4 sectors). Finding 6 channels may be possible in many of the rural markets CTB and Landover 2 LLC are targeting, but it will be difficult in major markets, given the CEA/CTIA’s overly optimistic analysis that only 13 channels would remain available for TV in each market after reallocation of over half the remaining UHF broadcast spectrum to wireless carriers.