FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said Tuesday he is optimistic that broadcasters who choose to share channels will both be able to broadcast a high-definition signal simultaneously, which he calls a potential game-changer.
Wheeler provided that upbeat assessment in a blog late Tuesday following a visit to noncommercial KLCS Los Angeles, one of two stations --commercial KLJA is the other -- testing channel sharing per a recently granted authorization from the FCC.
Wheeler did not witness that feat, instead seeing the demonstration of one HD stream and seven standard-definition multicast channels. "What’s really exciting," he said, "is that as part of the pilot program with KJLA, KLCS will be test broadcasting two full HD streams of programming over the same channel. If the pilot works as engineers expect it will, this could be a game changer for the concept of channel sharing."
Wheeler was on the West Coast as part of a trip that included speaking at the Silicon Flatirons Center in Boulder. He has been evangelizing the sharing concept with increasing frequency, and made the same points in his blog about the incentive auctions being a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those broadcasters who want to capture the value of their spectrum."
"Channel sharing can allow broadcasters to bolster their balance sheets, reduce capital expenses, and continue their traditional business," he blogged.
Broadcasters have argued that sharing means giving up important spectrum real estate, not only for HD but multicasting and mobile DTV and possibly data offload services.
CTIA: The Wireless Association submitted its application to the FCC Jan. 28 for permission to test the channel-sharing plan. CTIA was responding to the FCC's own request for demonstrations of "the technical and legal arrangements necessary to implement a successful channel sharing operation.” "We are very optimistic that it will be approved," said a CTIA spokesperson.
The FCC last week approved the test and Wheeler pointed out that it had taken the commission less than a week to give the okay. That was not a big surprise, though. Even before the approval, Wheeler had signaled he was looking forward to seeing the results.