WASHINGTON, March 28 Two television stations in
Los Angeles that tested sharing radio frequencies found it
technically viable, they said on Friday in a report to federal
regulators who see the practice as one way to free up more
airwaves for wireless broadband.
Supported by the wireless industry group CTIA, public
broadcasting station KLCS and multilingual station KJLA tried
channel-sharing, in which they tested how many broadcasting
streams can be combined onto one radio-frequency channel,
possibly allowing the stations to give up some of the airwaves
they now occupy.
The experiment, approved last month by the Federal
Communications Commission, "clearly proved channel sharing is
feasible, and is a technically viable option for broadcasters
with minimal impact for viewers," the CTIA and the stations said
in the report.
Channel sharing has been supported by the FCC as a potential
way to clear up more airwaves, or spectrum, for a spectrum
auction currently scheduled for 2015.
In the auction, TV stations would voluntarily give up
control of low-frequency airwaves they now occupy so that the
frequencies could be sold to wireless providers such as AT&T Inc
or T-Mobile US. The wireless companies are keen
to boost the strength and reach of their networks as consumers
increasingly rely on wireless phones for data-heavy uses like
The auction proceeds would reimburse the broadcasters and
help fund a new U.S. public safety network.
The National Association of Broadcasters, or NAB, has voiced
concern about various aspects of the auction, including the
uncertain impact of the rearrangement of frequencies after they
The FCC has promoted channel sharing as a way for TV
stations to sell their airwaves in the auction without leaving
the broadcasting business.
But NAB has argued that surrendering airwaves may hurt
broadcasters' potential to innovate.
"On a technical level, one of the main challenges to channel
sharing concerns the ability of the sharers to offer new and
innovative services as they are limiting their available
spectrum," NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said when the
channel-sharing pilot was proposed in late January.
"On the business side, there are difficult contractual
provisions that would need to be addressed."
The experiment by KLCS and KJLA tested only technical
details of channel sharing, but not legal or practical issues
that may come up for stations that decide to share
radio-frequency channels, the report said.
The two stations, which have not committed to participating
in the FCC's spectrum auction, tested combining different
numbers of high-definition (HD) and standard-definition (SD)
program streams on to one six-megahertz radiofrequency channel.
They found it may be technically possible to combine up to
three HD streams; two HD streams with up to two SD streams; and
one HD stream with up to seven SD streams.
"Our collaboration with KLCS yielded extremely valuable and
interesting data about the promise of channel sharing, without
adverse effect on our over-the-air audience," said Francis
Wilkinson, KJLA vice president and general manager.
To read the report, click on bit.ly/1h0VciA
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Peter Cooney)