FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr Monday teased a broadcast item to be voted on at the agency’s June 9 meeting. Speaking during an ATSC 3.0 webinar with speakers from the NAB and the Consumer Technology Association, Carr said the Commission is working to ease some media regulations for television broadcasters that want to employ the next-gen ATSC transmission standard. ATSC will give stations a chance to play a greater role in the converged internet future, he said.
He now calls such applications hybrid broadcast-internet technologies, because an aspect of ATSC will allow television broadcasters to provide an internet pipe in addition to their over-the-air signal. For example, the new tech will enable broadcast television signals to be delivered to a smartphone or tablet, proponents say. He saw some of this innovation at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and at the 2019 NAB spring show.
A use case could be automakers using broadcasters’ ATSC signals to send out traffic and map data for autonomous vehicles, according to Carr. He called the car concept an efficient way to update all the autonomous vehicles in an area at once.
“It may be 5G or broadcast for instantly updating an entire fleet. For 5G, ATSC 3.0 could help augment coverage or add capacity by shifting data off of cellular networks. Think of this as a complement to other types of 5G services. I think there’s more we can do to greenlight these internet offerings,” said Carr.
ATSC proponents are also looking at similar updates for farm equipment in rural areas that lack broadband services.
The draft item still being worked on includes a declaratory ruling, “to ensure broadcast services are not weighed down by a set of old media regulations,” Carr said. He emphasized current media ownership rules won’t apply to leases between stations and third parties for this spectrum use. “We need to make clear legacy media rules don’t make sense for [this] wireless world. This [technology] can be used for 5G downloads.”
That, Carr said, frees up multiple broadcasters in a single geographic market to pool their efforts and “reach a geographic scale that may be necessary to support some of these internet services.”
The draft item is to be public today.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief