Group Pushes Spectrum Overlay Plan

WASHINGTON—The Coalition for Free TV and Broadband continues to lobby its plan to provide both television broadcast service and high-speed data delivery within the existing TV broadcast spectrum. The Coalition, along with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, released a report last week that outlines the methodology, cost savings and other tenets of the spectrum-saving plan. The proposal would allow broadcasters to retain their existing spectrum for off-air television distribution, in addition to providing wideband wireless data service over a large service area.

The report, “The Economic Value of Broadcast Innovation—Impact on the U.S. Treasury,” states that such an overlay plan could bring in more than $60 billion in revenue to the federal government, as opposed to the $20 billion that auctioning of the 120 MHz of television broadcast spectrum might bring.

The chairman of the Coalition, Irwin Podhajser, commented that enabling wireless data service via existing television broadcast channels would provide a number of benefits to consumers.

“We imagine a future where the American people have more choices, not less,” said Podhajser. “We imagine a future where consumers can get faster, better and cheaper video delivery to their computers, cell phones and tablets. We imagine a future that wireless companies could only dream of providing, but we as broadcasters are ready to make that dream happen.”

The report points out that during the next 15 years, even if the total amount of spectrum devoted to high-speed wireless data transmission is nearly doubled and technological advances allow a four-times increase in the amount of data handled, increased user requirements will greatly outpace this eightfold increase in data capacity and available spectrum. The report concludes that implementation of “Broadcast Overlay” technology for carrying data along with television signals would provide a methodology that’s “optimally matched to the projected demand for one-to-many/point-to-multipoint IP traffic” scenarios.

“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,” said Mark Aitken, vice president of advanced technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The 29-page report was based on an analysis performed by Business Analytix Inc. of Bordentown, N.J.