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post #2041 of 2258 Old 08-21-2019, 12:36 PM
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This article is a good one because it points out how ATSC 3.0 really has no advantages once broadband becomes ubiquitous to all devices everywhere through 5G (and, of course, wifi). The author sort of chickens out in the end and tries to argue that ATSC 3.0 can take off and gain a successful foothold if broadcasters are aggressive in rolling it out, since they'll have a head start over 5G. But given that this is a piece written for an industry website, TV News Check, I suppose he felt that he had to put a semi-positive spin on the ending of his story.

Will 5G Leapfrog ATSC 3.0?

Sinclair's pipe dream of getting Apple, Google, Samsung, etc. to incorporate ATSC 3.0 tuner chips, in addition to 4G and 5G radios, in their smartphones will never pan out.

What I can see happening, though, is the reverse: 5G swallows free local OTA TV.

Imagine several years from now, when it's completely apparent that ATSC 3.0 is a stillborn baby, that the FCC decides to *really* revamp our nation's airwaves. Perhaps the current low-VHF spectrum is left alone, so that each market can still operate (for a few more years) a couple of "nightlight" ATSC 1.0 towers carrying feeds of all the local broadcasters who wish to participate. But everything else -- the high-VHF and all the UHF spectrum -- gets converted over for 5G use. And all video screens over a certain size (i.e. "TVs") would be required to contain 5G radios that support the full range of 5G frequencies in use across the nation.

Rather than have local broadcasters put up their own network of 5G towers -- which would be a wasteful expense -- the FCC could require that all the commercial network owners who are licensed to use our nation's spectrum (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) must participate in a system to allow local content distributors to deploy their content on their 5G networks in an unlocked fashion so that any 5G radio could access those specific video streams without the need to actually be a paying customer of that network provider's service. (In other words, a person could choose to not pay for internet access from any company -- no 5G broadband service, no cable/fiber broadband service -- but he could still turn on either his TV or his smartphone and receive certain free local video streams via various commercial 5G networks operating in that area.)

Local non-profit PBS stations, of course, would qualify. They could invoke "must carry" and be able to distribute their multicast linear channel streams and a certain volume of on-demand unicast streams over the local commercial 5G networks at no cost to the PBS station. As for local commercial broadcasters, they could invoke "must carry" on 5G if they are popular enough in their local market (based on measured viewership from all forms of video distribution), but only for locally-produced content that fits into certain categories deemed to serve the public interest (e.g. news, alerts, local sports, weather, community events, local culture, education, etc.) and even then, because these are for-profit businesses, they would be required to compensate the commercial 5G network operators for distribution at rates set relative to their operating revenue (or, perhaps instead, with an FCC-mandated revenue sharing plan in place between the network operator and the local broadcasters for ads embedded in the local must-carry content) . Each local commercial broadcaster might have limits placed on the amount of 5G bandwidth they are able to buy under must-carry status.

Local broadcasters might still act as affiliates for national entertainment networks for distribution on ATSC 1.0 (until that system sunsets a few years later) as well as via MVPDs, but the relationship would be severed for distribution via 5G signals that would be unlocked and freely accessible to anyone. Of course, the national media giants like Disney, AT&T/WarnerMedia, Comcast/NBCU, ViacomCBS, Amazon, Google and Apple would still be making their live and on-demand content available via 5G and all other internet pipes but accessing that content would require the viewer to pay for his/her own internet connection as a pre-condition of accessing it (just as in the 20th century, TV viewers had to pay for their own electricity service before they could avail themselves to free OTA TV with an antenna). Some of the content distributed by those media giants would be 100% ad-supported and free to anyone with an internet connection, although most of it would require a pay subscription.

Any live sporting event or other live local entertainment (e.g. musical concert) offered by a national entertainment provider could qualify for "must carry" status on a given area's free 5G distribution system so long as the content was free to viewers (non-subscription) and originated in that area or featured a sports team from that area (i.e. both home games and away games for your local sports teams could qualify for "must carry" so long as they were offered free to viewers). Likewise, any provider of live news and public affairs coverage (local, national or international) meeting a national minimum viewership popularity threshold could also invoke "must carry" for their multicast streams on 5G networks as long as they offer that content free to viewers.

Whether or not it's politically feasible for such a system to be implemented (likely against the wishes of large corporations with armies of lobbyists), I don't know. But given the fact that all of our entertainment is inexorably destined for online distribution, and given the realities of a fixed amount of wireless spectrum available to us, this would make a lot more sense IMO than either the current system or ATSC 3.0.
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post #2042 of 2258 Old 08-21-2019, 03:54 PM
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Whether or not it's politically feasible for such a system to be implemented (likely against the wishes of large corporations with armies of lobbyists), I don't know. But given the fact that all of our entertainment is inexorably destined for online distribution, and given the realities of a fixed amount of wireless spectrum available to us, this would make a lot more sense IMO than either the current system or ATSC 3.0.
I disagree with your whole 5G replacing TV hypothesis for a few reasons:

1. In the 600mhz auction, the FCC was going to auction down to RF30, and nobody bought it all, so TV still uses up to RF36.
2. We are about at the limits of what mobile phone towers can practically handle in terms of giant antennas, and the lower the frequency, the bigger the antenna.
3. The interest in spectrum has turned towards the now so-called "mid band" (which used to be high-band, but I digress). I think C-Band is toast in 3-5 years, it will be used for 5G, and that's probably for the better. Once many of the smaller MSOs/MVPDs fold, the cost to convert all the ground receiving stations to IP fiber will drop considerably, tilting the economics towards selling the C-Band for 5G. Small SMATV systems already use DBS, not C-Band, so they will continue as-is.
4. The efficiency gains for 5G using Massive MIMO are modest in the sub-ghz range, but get bigger and bigger as the frequency goes up. In the 600mhz band, you're already down to less than a 20% gain over LTE, whereas in the 2500mhz band, it's more than 50%.

http://wirelessone.news/spectrum/120...w-and-mid-band

5. Carriers want a LOT more spectrum. There just isn't that much spectrum in the UHF TV band compared to CBRS, C-Band, and other mid-band spectrum.
6. Carriers are densifying and deploying small cells. Low-band spectrum just has to be turned down that much more in a densified network in order to re-use the spectrum, it's really only good for rural coverage, and all the carriers already have at least some low-band spectrum for rural coverage. Further, AT&T has B14 which they are deploying now in concert with new rural towers that are fully banded and software upgradable to sub-6 5G. They have no interest in going back to touch rural towers again anytime in the next decade, they can decommission HSPA+ from the ground, and implement 5G with DSS from the ground or remotely in software. Verizon has largely lost interest in rural coverage expansion, as they are too busy in a mad dash to deploy small cells and Verizon OneFiber in metro and suburban areas. If T-Sprint fails, Sprint has it's hands full in major metro areas just fixing it's network, and T-Mobile will be busy in major metros doing small cells and further densifying sites. If T-Sprint passes, then New T-Mobile will already have more spectrum than it knows what to do with.
6. The only compelling use case I can see for the TV spectrum is rural fixed wireless broadband, which can be done already with TVWS. The more TV stations disappear, the more TVWS spectrum is available without actually changing the use of the spectrum nationwide.

I'm still 50/50 on ATSC 3.0 actually succeeding over ATSC 1.0. If it does, it won't have much, if any 4k on it, it will either end up in one of two scenarios, or some combination thereof:

1. Cost-cutting by combining many stations in a market onto a single transmitter. This is more likely in smaller markets.
2. More channels to grind out ad revenue. This is more likely in larger markets, and we could see an explosion of syndicated, back-catalog, and foreign-language subchannels.

A hybrid between these two would be to have some english-language subchannels that are in all markets, and then have large markets retain most/all of their stations, but adding many foreign-language channels particular to the populations of those individual markets, while the smaller markets use that capacity to instead consolidate down to fewer transmitters.
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post #2043 of 2258 Old 08-21-2019, 05:49 PM
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6. The only compelling use case I can see for the TV spectrum is rural fixed wireless broadband, which can be done already with TVWS. The more TV stations disappear, the more TVWS spectrum is available without actually changing the use of the spectrum nationwide.
You raise a lot of good points on whether the current TV spectrum might be useful for 5G (or even 4G) service to small handheld mobile devices (due to antenna size). But as you finally concede in your 6th point, it won't just be mobile devices using 5G. It will also be homes, cars, businesses, etc. And opening up that lower-band spectrum that travels further and better penetrates walls will be a boon in terms of helping to close the digital divide.

I just believe that at some point in the latter half of the 2020s, the American public and our political leaders will determine that it makes little sense to keep devoting as much spectrum as we currently do to linear-channel OTA TV when it could instead be used to deliver broadband access over which all sorts of media, including free TV, can ride. Heck, my understanding is that the Obama admin a few years back had little interest in continuing to devote lots of spectrum for OTA TV, instead seeing the future in wireless broadband. How much truer will that be several years from now?

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I'm still 50/50 on ATSC 3.0 actually succeeding over ATSC 1.0. If it does, it won't have much, if any 4k on it, it will either end up in one of two scenarios, or some combination thereof:

1. Cost-cutting by combining many stations in a market onto a single transmitter. This is more likely in smaller markets.
2. More channels to grind out ad revenue. This is more likely in larger markets, and we could see an explosion of syndicated, back-catalog, and foreign-language subchannels.

A hybrid between these two would be to have some english-language subchannels that are in all markets, and then have large markets retain most/all of their stations, but adding many foreign-language channels particular to the populations of those individual markets, while the smaller markets use that capacity to instead consolidate down to fewer transmitters.
Yeah, I imagine we'll see a combo of those two. The problem for those local stations, though, is that very little of the content they're airing is perceived by the public as high-value. Most if not all of the older back-catalog stuff will be available via free OTT services. Everything else will be available via subscription OTT services and the media titans that own the national broadcast networks will gradually move more and more of their high-value content away from their OTA broadcast nets to their subscription OTT services. In other words, OTA TV will increasingly become a low-value content wasteland. Honestly, the NFL is about the only thing economically propping it up at this point.
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post #2044 of 2258 Old 08-22-2019, 08:07 AM
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I want to personally thank NashGuy and BiggAW for their incredibly insightful posts.
Feel like I've eavesdropped on a conference of industry leaders.
Maybe I have!
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post #2045 of 2258 Old 08-22-2019, 04:53 PM
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You raise a lot of good points on whether the current TV spectrum might be useful for 5G (or even 4G) service to small handheld mobile devices (due to antenna size). But as you finally concede in your 6th point, it won't just be mobile devices using 5G. It will also be homes, cars, businesses, etc. And opening up that lower-band spectrum that travels further and better penetrates walls will be a boon in terms of helping to close the digital divide.
I find a lot of the 5G stuff to be hype. The bottom line is going to be price and capacity. 5G will deliver more bits faster with more capacity for less money. It may work in some places for home broadband, which I think Verizon will have a big lead in, due to their extensive small cell network, but I don't see this as a viable business model except for the fact that they have to build small cells for their mobile network anyway, so the home wireless is just gravy, similar to what AT&T is doing with rural fixed wireless, except that mmWave can actually compete with cable and fiber, whereas AT&T FWI competes with low-end DSL and satellite.

In terms of 5G, cars today have LTE, as do a lot of other things and devices. Yes, that will continue to grow, and yes, it's a big business. Traffic lights in smaller cities (large ones are all wired already), parking meters, farm equipment, HVAC equipment (post-Target breach), electric meters and utility equipment, and much more will all be online, but the simple fact is that none of that takes much bandwidth, and every single one of those use cases works on 3G today, and also works just fine on 4G and 5G. Homes and businesses will be using mmWave. Individual devices will still go through Wi-Fi.

I think it absolutely can help rural areas, but that just loops back to TVWS. Maybe TVWS will even be somehow controlled or licensed, but it doesn't affect the use of OTA in big cities.

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I just believe that at some point in the latter half of the 2020s, the American public and our political leaders will determine that it makes little sense to keep devoting as much spectrum as we currently do to linear-channel OTA TV when it could instead be used to deliver broadband access over which all sorts of media, including free TV, can ride. Heck, my understanding is that the Obama admin a few years back had little interest in continuing to devote lots of spectrum for OTA TV, instead seeing the future in wireless broadband. How much truer will that be several years from now?
I just don't see a huge market and appetite for that spectrum. It's not that useful in urban areas for 5G, where mid-band and high-band are now the name of the game, and the cost to move TV onto a future 5G network and pay TV stations to give it up would be astronomical. I think RF36 is going to be the upper end of the TV spectrum for a long, long time. I think broadcast TV, either ATSC 1.0 or ATSC 3.0 is going to be alive for another 2 decades at least. I highly doubt that the top-tier content will be on those airwaves in even 5 years' time, but some local news, national news, syndicated content, library content, and a bunch of diginets are likely to survive for a long, long time. I do think C-Band will be gone within 5 years, or at least a solid plan to take it down will be in place by then, it's just a matter of how long to wait for smaller cable companies to get out of the business and abandon their ground receive stations, making the conversion to IP fiber much cheaper.

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Yeah, I imagine we'll see a combo of those two. The problem for those local stations, though, is that very little of the content they're airing is perceived by the public as high-value. Most if not all of the older back-catalog stuff will be available via free OTT services. Everything else will be available via subscription OTT services and the media titans that own the national broadcast networks will gradually move more and more of their high-value content away from their OTA broadcast nets to their subscription OTT services. In other words, OTA TV will increasingly become a low-value content wasteland. Honestly, the NFL is about the only thing economically propping it up at this point.
There's no question that the quality of their content has dropped in recent years. They no longer do nearly as much live coverage of what used to be major events, like NYE, and the few that they do are poorly produced. Yes, it is going to be a low-value wasteland, and it is going to be a grind for them. Just grind out the ad dollars. I could actually see the major networks each doing an OTA news network, as well as doing second-tier regional or local sporting events, as those would generate live viewing and ad dollars in ways that syndicated and back catalog content may not. I think there is a role for OTA TV for the next decade or two, beyond that, who knows. If they move to news and sports, then OTA will be around just about forever, and local news continually draws high viewership in spite of what I see as very low quality content. I think a lot of it is people just putting it on in the background while they cook dinner or whatever.
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post #2046 of 2258 Old 08-22-2019, 06:09 PM
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This article is a good one because it points out how ATSC 3.0 really has no advantages once broadband becomes ubiquitous to all devices everywhere through 5G (and, of course, wifi).
I think one of the issues missing in the ATSC 3.0 vs broadband debate is that not everyone has access to high speed Internet. Our family is limited to 6Mbps DSL. Our town is serviced by cable but our house is hundreds of feet off the road so getting wired for cable is extremely expensive.

The recent brouhaha over the limitations of the FCC broadband coverage database indicates that broadband coverage is spottier then previously admitted.

5G holds a lot of promise but who knows what the cost will be and if service ends up caped. Here in terrain challenged NH we depend on LAN based Wi-Fi for our phones because cell signal strength is poor at our house.

Something else that should be considered as a policy issue is that broadcast is extremely valuable during emergencies. Cable and Cell sites have limited backup time during an extended power outage. Here in NH we can expect a week long power outage due to winter storms every few years. I realized touting broadcast during emergencies is a moot point if no one has OTA TVs. But interest in OTA TV seems to be increasing. Once the smoke settles on the FCC repack it will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

I wish the FCC had mandated TVs include ATSC 3.0 tuners like they did during the digital conversion. That would have solved a lot of the chicken-egg problems facing TV stations.
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I think one of the issues missing in the ATSC 3.0 vs broadband debate is that not everyone has access to high speed Internet. Our family is limited to 6Mbps DSL. Our town is serviced by cable but our house is hundreds of feet off the road so getting wired for cable is extremely expensive.
You should be able to get a drop within 400', if it's longer you'd need a plant extension, but usually the cable company can do one for a few grand unless your driveway is absolutely nuts. Either that, or put a shack for the modem by the pole, and run fiber to your house. Your house is served if there is a tap at the pole at the end of your driveway. Is your area Comcast or ABB?

That is one huge advantage of fiber though, it still requires ROW, but if that's available, there aren't any real distance limitations in most cases, if you have an 800' driveway, they just put an 800' long drop in.

There's no question, however, that there are a lot of houses that actually don't have broadband available.

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Something else that should be considered as a policy issue is that broadcast is extremely valuable during emergencies. Cable and Cell sites have limited backup time during an extended power outage. Here in NH we can expect a week long power outage due to winter storms every few years. I realized touting broadcast during emergencies is a moot point if no one has OTA TVs. But interest in OTA TV seems to be increasing. Once the smoke settles on the FCC repack it will be interesting to see if that trend continues.

I wish the FCC had mandated TVs include ATSC 3.0 tuners like they did during the digital conversion. That would have solved a lot of the chicken-egg problems facing TV stations.
The problem is that most people don't have generators to power their TVs if everything is out. Of course if you do, then you're in good shape.
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post #2048 of 2258 Old 08-23-2019, 06:39 AM
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You should be able to get a drop within 400', ... . Is your area Comcast or ABB?
Milford is serviced by Comcast. They took over when Aldephia went bankrupt. The run from road to our house is about 600 feet: 400 feet aerial 200 underground.

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The problem is that most people don't have generators to power their TVs if everything is out.
True, lots easier to listen to portable radio. Around here generators are fairly common. Need one to keep the heat on and if you have a well loose water during an outage. We have a portable generator I bought a few yeas ago. An outage of a day is an adventure but it gets old really fast.

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post #2049 of 2258 Old 08-23-2019, 03:40 PM
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Milford is serviced by Comcast. They took over when Aldephia went bankrupt. The run from road to our house is about 600 feet: 400 feet aerial 200 underground.
People on DSLR have had success getting Comcast to extend plant to them. If you have conduit available for the UG section, they should be able to do a 400' plant extension and a 200' RG-11 drop. Assuming no major re-engineering of the existing plant, which depends on what's there now, it should be in the range of $4k, and it will raise your property value, so net-net it probably won't cost you anything, you might possibly come out ahead.


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True, lots easier to listen to portable radio. Around here generators are fairly common. Need one to keep the heat on and if you have a well loose water during an outage. We have a portable generator I bought a few yeas ago. An outage of a day is an adventure but it gets old really fast.
Yeah, all homes on well water should have a generator, but many don't.
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I find a lot of the 5G stuff to be hype. The bottom line is going to be price and capacity. 5G will deliver more bits faster with more capacity for less money. It may work in some places for home broadband, which I think Verizon will have a big lead in, due to their extensive small cell network, but I don't see this as a viable business model except for the fact that they have to build small cells for their mobile network anyway, so the home wireless is just gravy, similar to what AT&T is doing with rural fixed wireless, except that mmWave can actually compete with cable and fiber, whereas AT&T FWI competes with low-end DSL and satellite.


I just don't see a huge market and appetite for that spectrum. It's not that useful in urban areas for 5G, where mid-band and high-band are now the name of the game, and the cost to move TV onto a future 5G network and pay TV stations to give it up would be astronomical. I think RF36 is going to be the upper end of the TV spectrum for a long, long time. I think broadcast TV, either ATSC 1.0 or ATSC 3.0 is going to be alive for another 2 decades at least. I highly doubt that the top-tier content will be on those airwaves in even 5 years' time, but some local news, national news, syndicated content, library content, and a bunch of diginets are likely to survive for a long, long time.
Question isn't whether or not mid-band and high-band are more desirable for the vast majority of broadband use-cases. Question is whether or not that lower band spectrum will be put to better use for IP (including in exurban/rural areas) -- which can easily accommodate multicast video broadcast channels as well as other forms of IP traffic -- or better used to just serve a dwindling traditional OTA linear channel TV audience. At some point, I think it will become more economically attractive to refarm that spectrum -- some or all of it -- over from ATSC to 5G. (And yes, while 5G shines brightest at high-band frequencies, it can be promulgated on low-band as well while still retaining some of its benefits over 4G LTE.)

As for the long-term prospects for OTA linear-channel TV, the question is whether the broadcasters licensing those frequencies can grind out MORE money by sticking with the current ATSC 1.0 model (selling ads embedded in increasingly low-value content viewed by fewer and fewer viewers) or if they can make more money by converting that spectrum to 5G and/or (more likely) selling off the spectrum to 5G network owners (e.g. Verizon) and changing their business model somewhat to focus purely on local content generation (and probably turning over programmatic targeted ad sales to larger automated systems, perhaps operated by the 5G network owners, or Google, or another tech/media titan).

Look, we're already seeing OTA TV broadcasters who are embracing ATSC 3.0 -- mainly Sinclair, but also Nexstar and others -- tacitly admit that in order to optimally monetize their airwaves, they need to switch from a business based purely on TV+ads+retrans and shift to a business mix that incorporates other things, like selling bits and pieces of their bandwidth to third parties for various non-TV uses. In other words, they're hoping that ATSC 3.0 can allow them to kinda sorta compete with and/or partner with the 4G/5G networks.

I know that the "cord-cutter" trend in the past few years has produced an increase in OTA TV viewership. But I question whether that trend is going to continue and I also question the degree to which folks who have put up cheap little antennas in their houses and apartments actually watch OTA TV very much, as opposed to streaming. For a generation coming of age watching all video via streaming on their phones, I don't see a rosy future for local OTA TV, even if it's free. There's a reason that Sinclair is so desperate to get ATSC 3.0 tuners in smartphones. As I say, it'll never happen (on anything more than an odd phone here or there, anyhow).

I just don't see a very bright future for either ATSC 3.0 or 1.0 by the time 2030 arrives.
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post #2051 of 2258 Old 08-23-2019, 09:27 PM
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Question isn't whether or not mid-band and high-band are more desirable for the vast majority of broadband use-cases.
Not necessarily. The carriers have a certain amount of CAPEX. The transition from 3G to 4G was a relatively finite task- upgrade 75,000 towers from 3G to 4G LTE. Now there is an upgrade cycle going on with AT&T and soon Verizon for sub-6 5G, but the big one is 5G small cells, which Verizon has been pouring billions into for the last several years with 4G small cells and Verizon OneFiber, which all lays the foundation for going back and swapping out the actual small cell equipment for mmWave 5G. The difference with this upgrade cycle is that there isn't really a clear end in sight for a HetNet where there is some as yet to be determined combination of Microcells, iDAS, oDAS, C-RAN, independent small cells, and traditional steel in the air macro sites.

To loop back to the UHF broadcast spectrum, I just don't see where that will ever fit into the carriers' CAPEX plans, and I don't see the current trends magically reversing. They are going to acquire more spectrum in the mid-band, and that will serve most fixed wireless rural use cases similarly to how it will serve urban mobile use. For cases where the range is really needed, they already have 600/700mhz and 850mhz spectrum. The other issue is that the physics of those antennas isn't going to change no matter whether they are using 5G or 6G.

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Question is whether or not that lower band spectrum will be put to better use for IP (including in exurban/rural areas) -- which can easily accommodate multicast video broadcast channels as well as other forms of IP traffic -- or better used to just serve a dwindling traditional OTA linear channel TV audience. At some point, I think it will become more economically attractive to refarm that spectrum -- some or all of it -- over from ATSC to 5G. (And yes, while 5G shines brightest at high-band frequencies, it can be promulgated on low-band as well while still retaining some of its benefits over 4G LTE.)
So the bigger question here is whether it is commercially worth it to the carriers to pay for that spectrum, somehow compensate local broadcasters for the loss of that spectrum in a way that will make both parties happy, and pay to move DBS and streaming providers over to fiber receive sites, and I just don't see that happening. I think C-Band will reach a point where it is worthwhile to reclaim it within the next few years, or at least within a few years after that, but I don't see the same for the UHF TV broadcast spectrum.

I think what's more likely is a TVWS approach, since the companies interested in this spectrum are very small players. a TVWS approach can slowly reclaim this spectrum in rural areas as broadcasters shut down, reduce power, or condense onto shared transmitters in smaller markets.

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As for the long-term prospects for OTA linear-channel TV, the question is whether the broadcasters licensing those frequencies can grind out MORE money by sticking with the current ATSC 1.0 model (selling ads embedded in increasingly low-value content viewed by fewer and fewer viewers) or if they can make more money by converting that spectrum to 5G and/or (more likely) selling off the spectrum to 5G network owners (e.g. Verizon) and changing their business model somewhat to focus purely on local content generation (and probably turning over programmatic targeted ad sales to larger automated systems, perhaps operated by the 5G network owners, or Google, or another tech/media titan).
You've just invented a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. Most people are streaming on Rokus and Fire TVs, the broadcasters can set up apps that are free or paid, and then do all the ad tech there. They don't need some fancy 5G setup to blast it through the air when people are just streaming it through their existing cable or fiber internet connections. For areas that still don't have great broadband by that point, even if they have some fixed wireless or LEO to jump online with, they will still be using DBS for at least linear TV reception. Everyone else will just be using apps.

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Look, we're already seeing OTA TV broadcasters who are embracing ATSC 3.0 -- mainly Sinclair, but also Nexstar and others -- tacitly admit that in order to optimally monetize their airwaves, they need to switch from a business based purely on TV+ads+retrans and shift to a business mix that incorporates other things, like selling bits and pieces of their bandwidth to third parties for various non-TV uses. In other words, they're hoping that ATSC 3.0 can allow them to kinda sorta compete with and/or partner with the 4G/5G networks.
And how the heck is that going to work? This sounds like a bunch of hyped up nonsense that they're pushing to try and remain relevant. The radio broadcasting that we've discussed before at least is semi-plausible, as radio is kind of like TV in a broadcast sense, and there could be hundreds of radio streams broadcast in a given market alongside TV signals.

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I know that the "cord-cutter" trend in the past few years has produced an increase in OTA TV viewership. But I question whether that trend is going to continue and I also question the degree to which folks who have put up cheap little antennas in their houses and apartments actually watch OTA TV very much, as opposed to streaming. For a generation coming of age watching all video via streaming on their phones, I don't see a rosy future for local OTA TV, even if it's free. There's a reason that Sinclair is so desperate to get ATSC 3.0 tuners in smartphones. As I say, it'll never happen (on anything more than an odd phone here or there, anyhow).
That's really the issue. A lot of cord cutters that have OTA just don't watch it much, if at all. I think they could retain a few blockbuster sporting events, since the medium lends itself to that, and they may be able to concentrate casual viewers who don't have any sort of pay-tv subscription (even though those will be more like SVOD than actual TV channels).

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I just don't see a very bright future for either ATSC 3.0 or 1.0 by the time 2030 arrives.
I don't see a terribly bright future, but I don't see OTA disappearing either. In 2030, the youngest Baby Boomers will be 66, just entering into their prime retirement years, so local stations will be around for quite a while. They will probably be web- or app-centric by then, but they will still have a linear broadcast to broadcast.
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I'm always behind, so this likely isn't new news to most folks on this forum, but I can't wait to receive and try out an Amazon fire I've ordered, because it is supposed to successfully use my Silicon Dust tuners to receive over the air broadcasts.
The HDHomeRun ap works great on my computers and even cell phones, and I'm hoping it will work as well with the Amazon fire.
I would think that making OTA available over wireless networks in the home MIGHT help OTA a little bit, if it isn't too complicated for most end users.

If Silicon Dust can eventually handle ATSC 3.0, that would sure make my life easier since I have TVs scattered all over the house and am NOT looking forward to purchasing a set top box for each and every TV in the house.
Amazon Fires and Rokus are cheap, early version set top boxes sure weren't the last time around.
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Not necessarily. The carriers have a certain amount of CAPEX. The transition from 3G to 4G was a relatively finite task- upgrade 75,000 towers from 3G to 4G LTE. Now there is an upgrade cycle going on with AT&T and soon Verizon for sub-6 5G, but the big one is 5G small cells, which Verizon has been pouring billions into for the last several years with 4G small cells and Verizon OneFiber, which all lays the foundation for going back and swapping out the actual small cell equipment for mmWave 5G. The difference with this upgrade cycle is that there isn't really a clear end in sight for a HetNet where there is some as yet to be determined combination of Microcells, iDAS, oDAS, C-RAN, independent small cells, and traditional steel in the air macro sites.

To loop back to the UHF broadcast spectrum, I just don't see where that will ever fit into the carriers' CAPEX plans, and I don't see the current trends magically reversing. They are going to acquire more spectrum in the mid-band, and that will serve most fixed wireless rural use cases similarly to how it will serve urban mobile use. For cases where the range is really needed, they already have 600/700mhz and 850mhz spectrum. The other issue is that the physics of those antennas isn't going to change no matter whether they are using 5G or 6G.
A given wavelength of spectrum can support only so much bandwidth. Bandwidth demands will only ever increase. At some point, some company, with the support of the FCC -- whether the current 5G operators or others -- will seek to use much or all of the UHF TV spectrum to instead carry IP data.

You know quite a lot about the technicals of the industry but, as is often the case, your knowledge of the intricacies of the bark on each tree keeps you from seeing the forest. Look at the big picture: linear channel TV is dying, the national networks will increasingly not need local OTA stations for distributing their national high-value content, all forms of interpersonal and mass communication are moving to the internet, and our bandwidth needs for all sorts of IP devices unhindered by wires will only continue to grow. Yes, you can think up technical reasons why, at least in the near-term, it doesn't *yet* make sense to refarm that TV spectrum into 5G (or perhaps some other standard of wireless broadband, which is all TV white space internet is). But in the longer term, it WILL make sense because there will be greater public need for more wireless IP bandwidth than there is need for ATSC 1.0 or 3.0 TV.


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So the bigger question here is whether it is commercially worth it to the carriers to pay for that spectrum, somehow compensate local broadcasters for the loss of that spectrum in a way that will make both parties happy, and pay to move DBS and streaming providers over to fiber receive sites, and I just don't see that happening. I think C-Band will reach a point where it is worthwhile to reclaim it within the next few years, or at least within a few years after that, but I don't see the same for the UHF TV broadcast spectrum.

I think what's more likely is a TVWS approach, since the companies interested in this spectrum are very small players. a TVWS approach can slowly reclaim this spectrum in rural areas as broadcasters shut down, reduce power, or condense onto shared transmitters in smaller markets.


You've just invented a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. Most people are streaming on Rokus and Fire TVs, the broadcasters can set up apps that are free or paid, and then do all the ad tech there. They don't need some fancy 5G setup to blast it through the air when people are just streaming it through their existing cable or fiber internet connections. For areas that still don't have great broadband by that point, even if they have some fixed wireless or LEO to jump online with, they will still be using DBS for at least linear TV reception. Everyone else will just be using apps.
A problem that doesn't exist? OK, let's stop for a moment and think about why our government licenses spectrum to OTA TV stations and regulates them the way they do. A BIG part of the rationale is that local TV *serves the public interest*. It provides access to local and national news, it offers emergency warnings and updates for severe weather and disasters. (Note that ATSC 3.0's AWARN system has been one of its biggest selling points to government officials.) It also provides educational content to children (both on PBS and those weekly hours of required content on every other station).

And it does all those things *for free* with no subscription cost to the viewer. Yes, you have to first buy a TV and antenna and then pay for the electricity to run it but you don't have to pay $60 a month for a basic cable TV package nor do you have to pay that much for broadband service as a prerequisite to access that content. It's just there, on our shared airwaves, free for anyone. Unfortunately, though, this free TV set-up -- either in the form of ATSC 1.0 or 3.0 -- requires that our national wireless spectrum and the entire physical distribution chain (towers, cells, etc.) be segregated into two separate systems: cellular (4G/5G) and OTA TV (ATSC 1.0/3.0). As everything moves to IP, we should be asking ourselves "Why are we doing it this way? Why have these two separate systems?"

Perhaps you're imagining a future scenario in which a 90-year-old Pres. Sanders has given "free" socialized broadband service to every American? In which case, yes, you're absolutely right that there would be no need to figure out some new way to distribute local TV, news, educational content, and breaking alerts to virtually every American, regardless of how poor they are, since they could just stream all that stuff over their free broadband connection. But unless we have some kind of universal free wireless broadband, accessible on every stationary and mobile device that matters (for the purposes of emergency alerts), then I believe there WILL still be a need for some forms of free local mass communications that serve the public interest and which have very low barriers to access (meaning no ongoing subscription fees required).

And that's what my hypothetical plan would accomplish. The government would require that 5G commercial network operators -- as a condition of holding and using their spectrum licenses -- distribute a certain amount of unlocked multicast and unicast audio/video streams that are freely accessible on any device -- TV, smartphone, computer, smart watch, etc. -- containing a 5G radio chip. The producers of that content would be able to distribute their free content on the commercial 5G networks either at no cost to the producer (in the case of non-profit PBS) or at below-market rates favorable to them (in the case of local ad-supported for-profit content producers). Obviously, the economic devil is in the details, and the government would have to balance the interests of 5G network shareholders (seeking maximum profits) against the interests of PBS and local for-profit content producers, so the mandatory "must carry" streams could only reasonably constitute a relatively small fraction of the 5G networks' total bandwidth.

But with FeMBMS over 5G, it's absolutely possible to carry live linear multicast video streams in a bandwidth-efficient manner. Imagine a future in which we have four national 5G network operators with each of them carrying one "must carry" local multicast stream in each different metro+hinterlands area they operate. One might be PBS, one PBS Kids, and the other two could carry local news, sports and other qualifying content from a variety of local producers (and, in the case of news, national producers as well).

As usual, Germany is ahead of us on the technology front here. They're currently trialling TV broadcasts via 5G. They see the logical end-point for OTA TV and it isn't ATSC 3.0 or some updated version of DVB-T.
https://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2019...oadcast-trial/

For anyone interested, here's the official site for Germany's broadcast TV-over-5G experiment:
https://5g-today.de/?lang=en

As a news bit on that site reveals, it looks like China is following in Germany's footsteps. They've begun their own experiment using the German equipment and plan to do commercial 5G broadcasts of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, followed by further national expansion by 2025. https://5g-today.de/china-starts-5g-...ology/?lang=en

But, sure, the US will still be relying on ATSC 1.0/3.0 by 2030 for our free OTA TV while Europe and China have moved on to broadcast-over-5G...

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post #2054 of 2258 Old 08-24-2019, 12:01 PM
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I'm always behind, so this likely isn't new news to most folks on this forum, but I can't wait to receive and try out an Amazon fire I've ordered, because it is supposed to successfully use my Silicon Dust tuners to receive over the air broadcasts.
The HDHomeRun ap works great on my computers and even cell phones, and I'm hoping it will work as well with the Amazon fire.
I would think that making OTA available over wireless networks in the home MIGHT help OTA a little bit, if it isn't too complicated for most end users.

If Silicon Dust can eventually handle ATSC 3.0, that would sure make my life easier since I have TVs scattered all over the house and am NOT looking forward to purchasing a set top box for each and every TV in the house.
Amazon Fires and Rokus are cheap, early version set top boxes sure weren't the last time around.
From the get-go, the NAB and other boosters of ATSC 3.0 have talked about whole-home ATSC 3.0 tuner gateways that would distribute free OTA TV to every device on your home network. So basically, they're just talking about something like your Silicon Dust but with 3.0 tuners in it.

I've had an SD network tuner for a couple years now and it's pretty great (although it's gotten to where it will take itself offline once every week or two and I have to reboot it to get it back on my home network). I use it with the Channels app on my Apple TV 4K. If you have a recent model Fire TV device, I would highly recommend trying out the Channels app instead of Silicon Dust's own app for watching live TV. It's well worth the $25 one-time cost for the app, which then works forever for live TV with limited program guide (with the ability to pause and rewind) without any ongoing fees. When you buy the app for Fire TV, you can use it on all your Fire TV devices under that one-time $25 purchase. Same holds true for the Apple TV version and the Android version. The iOS version for iPhone and iPad is free.

https://getchannels.com/buy/

Channels also offers OTA DVR service too but that costs an ongoing $8/mo or $80/yr. However, if you go this route, then there's no up-front cost for the app. You get the Channels Plus app instead and it will work for both live and DVR TV as long as you're a paying subscriber.

With Channels Plus, you get a 30-day free trial, so that's probably the way to go regardless of which version of the app you ultimately want to use long-term, since it's a risk-free trial. You may find out that your Fire TV devices are too old and underpowered to run the app very well, in which case you wouldn't want to waste $25 on the regular Channels app to try it. (Note that the Channels and Channels Plus apps are really the same app, it's just that the latter also has DVR controls built into it. If one app will work on a given device, the other will too.)
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From the get-go, the NAB and other boosters of ATSC 3.0 have talked about whole-home ATSC 3.0 tuner gateways that would distribute free OTA TV to every device on your home network. So basically, they're just talking about something like your Silicon Dust but with 3.0 tuners in it.

I've had an SD network tuner for a couple years now and it's pretty great (although it's gotten to where it will take itself offline once every week or two and I have to reboot it to get it back on my home network). I use it with the Channels app on my Apple TV 4K. If you have a recent model Fire TV device, I would highly recommend trying out the Channels app instead of Silicon Dust's own app for watching live TV. It's well worth the $25 one-time cost for the app, which then works forever for live TV with limited program guide (with the ability to pause and rewind) without any ongoing fees. When you buy the app for Fire TV, you can use it on all your Fire TV devices under that one-time $25 purchase. Same holds true for the Apple TV version and the Android version. The iOS version for iPhone and iPad is free.

https://getchannels.com/buy/

Channels also offers OTA DVR service too but that costs an ongoing $8/mo or $80/yr. However, if you go this route, then there's no up-front cost for the app. You get the Channels Plus app instead and it will work for both live and DVR TV as long as you're a paying subscriber.

With Channels Plus, you get a 30-day free trial, so that's probably the way to go regardless of which version of the app you ultimately want to use long-term, since it's a risk-free trial. You may find out that your Fire TV devices are too old and underpowered to run the app very well, in which case you wouldn't want to waste $25 on the regular Channels app to try it. (Note that the Channels and Channels Plus apps are really the same app, it's just that the latter also has DVR controls built into it. If one app will work on a given device, the other will too.)

As customary from you, great advice. I'll wait and see how it goes with the HDHomeRun ap. I'm used to paying for their DVR subscription, and I'm really familiar with how it operates.
At 71, that's important!
I know Trip mentioned whole home networking with ATSC 3.0 using a device similar to the Silicon Dust tuners quite a while ago, and would certainly hope they become a reality.
Not really sure what that will do or not do to help ATSC 3.0, but it would make my life simpler.
Man, when I think of all the hours I've spent running RG-6 cable all over my house to my various TVs, I just wish somebody had thought of this whole TV to network idea earlier!


Thanks NashGuy
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post #2056 of 2258 Old 08-24-2019, 02:30 PM
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As customary from you, great advice. I'll wait and see how it goes with the HDHomeRun ap. I'm used to paying for their DVR subscription, and I'm really familiar with how it operates.
At 71, that's important!
I know Trip mentioned whole home networking with ATSC 3.0 using a device similar to the Silicon Dust tuners quite a while ago, and would certainly hope they become a reality.
Not really sure what that will do or not do to help ATSC 3.0, but it would make my life simpler.
Man, when I think of all the hours I've spent running RG-6 cable all over my house to my various TVs, I just wish somebody had thought of this whole TV to network idea earlier!


Thanks NashGuy
When ATSC 3.0 starts up, the lighthouse transmitter will duplicate VC's on some of the ATSC 3.0 transmitter.

That the standard Silicon Dust software does not allow duplicate VC's likely will be a serious problem.

The software I use and the new version in the works will allow duplicate VC's. We have two stations with duplicate VC's currently and the standard Silicon Dust software will not allow the KTVU VC 2 RF 26 transmitter to be used.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/26-ho...-new-post.html

---------------------------

I also have seen reference to the "whole home networking with ATSC 3.0 using a device similar to the Silicon Dust tuners".

I have that now for my networked HDHR tuners with a Wireless Router available for all of my computers.

SHF
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A given wavelength of spectrum can support only so much bandwidth. Bandwidth demands will only ever increase. At some point, some company, with the support of the FCC -- whether the current 5G operators or others -- will seek to use much or all of the UHF TV spectrum to instead carry IP data.
A given wavelength of spectrum can only carry so much data per site. What has already happened, and will continue to happen, is the densification of sites. Gone are the days of Verizon's 55,000 site network that has the most coverage from the fewest sites stretched to the absolute maximum using 850mhz CDMA. As sites densify, the low-band spectrum becomes less useful, as the range is simply not needed, and the mid- to high-band spectrum becomes more useful, as more area is covered by the relatively limited range of higher frequency spectrum by the increasing number of smaller and smaller sites. At some point, it reaches and equilibrium where the mmWave isn't even heavily utilized outside of a few specific use cases, since the density of sites required for it vastly increase the capacity on the lower frequencies. I just don't see the UHF TV spectrum fitting into this model. Even 700/850mhz spectrum is tough to control on small sites, as they have to crank the power way, way down to not interfere with adjacent sites. In the areas where it is valuable, i.e. the middle of nowhere, it can simply be done as TVWS, which doesn't kick TV stations off, but just uses whatever is available wherever it is available.

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You know quite a lot about the technicals of the industry but, as is often the case, your knowledge of the intricacies of the bark on each tree keeps you from seeing the forest. Look at the big picture: linear channel TV is dying, the national networks will increasingly not need local OTA stations for distributing their national high-value content, all forms of interpersonal and mass communication are moving to the internet, and our bandwidth needs for all sorts of IP devices unhindered by wires will only continue to grow. Yes, you can think up technical reasons why, at least in the near-term, it doesn't *yet* make sense to refarm that TV spectrum into 5G (or perhaps some other standard of wireless broadband, which is all TV white space internet is). But in the longer term, it WILL make sense because there will be greater public need for more wireless IP bandwidth than there is need for ATSC 1.0 or 3.0 TV.
The "need" for more spectrum is arbitrary. Providers want to have more spectrum as there is this arms race now for spectrum that Verizon seems to have missed out on, forcing them to densify. There is no particular reason why they need 150mhz or 500mhz or 800mhz, other than that a carrier with less spectrum has to build denser sites. There does become a point where you can only go so dense, and find so many places to put them, but the basic principle is such that you could run a network off of 10mhz of spectrum if you had a site every few power poles. That's just not practical if your competitors have 100mhz of spectrum and only need a site every 5 blocks.

That UHF TV bandwidth is not really very good for wireless service in metro areas. The only place it's actually good for wireless service is in very rural areas, which can do TVWS. In the metro areas, the network will be so densified by the point that some of the TV spectrum that might be available in the UHF spectrum would be a drop in the bucket. With a heavily densified network, carriers will have huge swaths of CBRS, C-Band, and mmWave, so 50 or 100mhz of UHF that requires massive antennas and doesn't even work that well with handheld devices isn't going to be very valuable.

I absolutely agree that the big network model is dying, but I don't think linear OTA TV is going to die anytime in the next couple of decades. OTA TV has an inherent advantage in being free, and it will continue to grind out an existence one way or another. We still have AM radio, we still have FM radio, and we're still going to have OTA TV. It's probably going to look a lot more like The CW or Ion than the big four of 5 or 10 years ago, but it will still be kicking around in one form or another. There is also a big market for foreign language programming, so that could pop up to backfill it as well. If smaller TV markets abandon OTA broadcasting, then that spectrum would just go into the pool for TVWS uses, probably by small WISPs or whomever. Maybe some TVWS use would even be allowed by the big cellular carriers, but that could happen while that same spectrum is still in use in major metro markets where it is far less valuable to wireless operators, and the higher frequencies are far more valuable.

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A problem that doesn't exist? OK, let's stop for a moment and think about why our government licenses spectrum to OTA TV stations and regulates them the way they do. A BIG part of the rationale is that local TV *serves the public interest*. It provides access to local and national news, it offers emergency warnings and updates for severe weather and disasters. (Note that ATSC 3.0's AWARN system has been one of its biggest selling points to government officials.) It also provides educational content to children (both on PBS and those weekly hours of required content on every other station).

And it does all those things *for free* with no subscription cost to the viewer. Yes, you have to first buy a TV and antenna and then pay for the electricity to run it but you don't have to pay $60 a month for a basic cable TV package nor do you have to pay that much for broadband service as a prerequisite to access that content. It's just there, on our shared airwaves, free for anyone. Unfortunately, though, this free TV set-up -- either in the form of ATSC 1.0 or 3.0 -- requires that our national wireless spectrum and the entire physical distribution chain (towers, cells, etc.) be segregated into two separate systems: cellular (4G/5G) and OTA TV (ATSC 1.0/3.0). As everything moves to IP, we should be asking ourselves "Why are we doing it this way? Why have these two separate systems?"
The two systems do two totally different things. 4G networks today typically cover <5 miles per tower, while ATSC-8VSB covers about 70 miles if you are up high. ATSC 3.0 SFNs can cover even more area with a typical setup of 2-4 towers throughout a market. Why would they try to re-invent the wheel to make a 5G broadcast system that's not even going to cover everyone who can get the OTA signal? It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Somehow TV stations are going to convince wireless carriers to pay a ton of money for spectrum that they don't even want, and then provide the TV stations with free distribution for their content, all the while having to significantly improve their wireless networks to get close to the coverage that the ATSC networks used to get on their own. It just doesn't make sense. I think RF36 is going to remain the upper edge of the TV broadcasting space for decades. I'm still 50/50 on whether ATSC 3.0 ends up working, or if we just end up with both for a long time, or partial conversions in some markets. I highly doubt ATSC 1.0 is going anywhere anytime soon.

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Perhaps you're imagining a future scenario in which a 90-year-old Pres. Sanders has given "free" socialized broadband service to every American? In which case, yes, you're absolutely right that there would be no need to figure out some new way to distribute local TV, news, educational content, and breaking alerts to virtually every American, regardless of how poor they are, since they could just stream all that stuff over their free broadband connection. But unless we have some kind of universal free wireless broadband, accessible on every stationary and mobile device that matters (for the purposes of emergency alerts), then I believe there WILL still be a need for some forms of free local mass communications that serve the public interest and which have very low barriers to access (meaning no ongoing subscription fees required).
That system is the existing ATSC system. Or currently cell phones, at least for the emergency alerts, since that's what everyone is paying attention to anyway. Unfortunately, I don't forsee our failed broadband policy getting fixed anytime soon. It's one of many policy failures, including many other parts of our infrastructure, and I think piecemeal solutions will chip away at it, but it won't really get solved anytime soon. I don't know what will happen to the ILECs who have refused to upgrade to fiber, or smaller ones that can't afford the initial cost (even though it's very profitable over time), as copper is rapidly becoming a big money-loser as massive maintenance costs swamp the moderate revenues that it still bring in.

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But, sure, the US will still be relying on ATSC 1.0/3.0 by 2030 for our free OTA TV while Europe and China have moved on to broadcast-over-5G...
We will definitely still be relying on ATSC in 2030. I think we will be in 2040 as well. We have a totally different system and model than they do, and 5G TV broadcasting just doesn't make any sense in the first place. I'm not putting too much hope in better broadband, as most areas have cable monopolies that have little incentive to do more than the bare minimum to keep vastly overcharging subscribers.

I'm still not sure about ATSC 3.0. It might work, it might fail. The economic incentives aren't aligned very well for broadcasters, but some could by eyeing a ton of sub-channels to grind out revenue. We'll see I guess.
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post #2058 of 2258 Old 08-24-2019, 03:19 PM
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From the get-go, the NAB and other boosters of ATSC 3.0 have talked about whole-home ATSC 3.0 tuner gateways that would distribute free OTA TV to every device on your home network. So basically, they're just talking about something like your Silicon Dust but with 3.0 tuners in it.
What I don't get is why they think this is something new and revolutionary, just because ATSC 3.0 is a little bit easier to implement over an IP network. Modern chips have no issue re-encoding and transmitting ATSC 1.0 signals over a network in a relatively cheap box, whether a SD tuner, or a Tablo or an Amazon Fire Recast. I do think this is the future model, however, and whomever can tie it all together like Amazon is moving towards is going to have a big advantage in the cord-cutting race.
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post #2059 of 2258 Old 08-24-2019, 05:40 PM
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What I don't get is why they think this is something new and revolutionary, just because ATSC 3.0 is a little bit easier to implement over an IP network.
This isn't my day job so take it with a grain of salt. Since ATSC 3.0 is IP whole house distribution ala Silicon Dust is able to easily merge the OTA one-to-many broadcast component with point-to-point IP. Targeted ads (ugh), interactive programming, on line links, etc.

More like watching a YouTube video then linear TV.
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post #2060 of 2258 Old 08-24-2019, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tschmidt View Post
This isn't my day job so take it with a grain of salt. Since ATSC 3.0 is IP whole house distribution ala Silicon Dust is able to easily merge the OTA one-to-many broadcast component with point-to-point IP. Targeted ads (ugh), interactive programming, on line links, etc.

More like watching a YouTube video then linear TV.
Ugh. That's true, there are selling points for them, even though they are detractors for the end user. I like general, broadcast advertising specifically because it exposes me to new things that I might not otherwise see.
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post #2061 of 2258 Old 08-26-2019, 08:30 AM
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A given wavelength of spectrum can only carry so much data per site. What has already happened, and will continue to happen, is the densification of sites. Gone are the days of Verizon's 55,000 site network that has the most coverage from the fewest sites stretched to the absolute maximum using 850mhz CDMA. As sites densify, the low-band spectrum becomes less useful, as the range is simply not needed, and the mid- to high-band spectrum becomes more useful, as more area is covered by the relatively limited range of higher frequency spectrum by the increasing number of smaller and smaller sites. At some point, it reaches and equilibrium where the mmWave isn't even heavily utilized outside of a few specific use cases, since the density of sites required for it vastly increase the capacity on the lower frequencies. I just don't see the UHF TV spectrum fitting into this model. Even 700/850mhz spectrum is tough to control on small sites, as they have to crank the power way, way down to not interfere with adjacent sites. In the areas where it is valuable, i.e. the middle of nowhere, it can simply be done as TVWS, which doesn't kick TV stations off, but just uses whatever is available wherever it is available.



The "need" for more spectrum is arbitrary. Providers want to have more spectrum as there is this arms race now for spectrum that Verizon seems to have missed out on, forcing them to densify. There is no particular reason why they need 150mhz or 500mhz or 800mhz, other than that a carrier with less spectrum has to build denser sites. There does become a point where you can only go so dense, and find so many places to put them, but the basic principle is such that you could run a network off of 10mhz of spectrum if you had a site every few power poles. That's just not practical if your competitors have 100mhz of spectrum and only need a site every 5 blocks.

That UHF TV bandwidth is not really very good for wireless service in metro areas. The only place it's actually good for wireless service is in very rural areas, which can do TVWS. In the metro areas, the network will be so densified by the point that some of the TV spectrum that might be available in the UHF spectrum would be a drop in the bucket. With a heavily densified network, carriers will have huge swaths of CBRS, C-Band, and mmWave, so 50 or 100mhz of UHF that requires massive antennas and doesn't even work that well with handheld devices isn't going to be very valuable.

I absolutely agree that the big network model is dying, but I don't think linear OTA TV is going to die anytime in the next couple of decades. OTA TV has an inherent advantage in being free, and it will continue to grind out an existence one way or another. We still have AM radio, we still have FM radio, and we're still going to have OTA TV. It's probably going to look a lot more like The CW or Ion than the big four of 5 or 10 years ago, but it will still be kicking around in one form or another. There is also a big market for foreign language programming, so that could pop up to backfill it as well. If smaller TV markets abandon OTA broadcasting, then that spectrum would just go into the pool for TVWS uses, probably by small WISPs or whomever. Maybe some TVWS use would even be allowed by the big cellular carriers, but that could happen while that same spectrum is still in use in major metro markets where it is far less valuable to wireless operators, and the higher frequencies are far more valuable.



The two systems do two totally different things. 4G networks today typically cover <5 miles per tower, while ATSC-8VSB covers about 70 miles if you are up high. ATSC 3.0 SFNs can cover even more area with a typical setup of 2-4 towers throughout a market. Why would they try to re-invent the wheel to make a 5G broadcast system that's not even going to cover everyone who can get the OTA signal? It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Somehow TV stations are going to convince wireless carriers to pay a ton of money for spectrum that they don't even want, and then provide the TV stations with free distribution for their content, all the while having to significantly improve their wireless networks to get close to the coverage that the ATSC networks used to get on their own. It just doesn't make sense. I think RF36 is going to remain the upper edge of the TV broadcasting space for decades. I'm still 50/50 on whether ATSC 3.0 ends up working, or if we just end up with both for a long time, or partial conversions in some markets. I highly doubt ATSC 1.0 is going anywhere anytime soon.



That system is the existing ATSC system. Or currently cell phones, at least for the emergency alerts, since that's what everyone is paying attention to anyway. Unfortunately, I don't forsee our failed broadband policy getting fixed anytime soon. It's one of many policy failures, including many other parts of our infrastructure, and I think piecemeal solutions will chip away at it, but it won't really get solved anytime soon. I don't know what will happen to the ILECs who have refused to upgrade to fiber, or smaller ones that can't afford the initial cost (even though it's very profitable over time), as copper is rapidly becoming a big money-loser as massive maintenance costs swamp the moderate revenues that it still bring in.



We will definitely still be relying on ATSC in 2030. I think we will be in 2040 as well. We have a totally different system and model than they do, and 5G TV broadcasting just doesn't make any sense in the first place. I'm not putting too much hope in better broadband, as most areas have cable monopolies that have little incentive to do more than the bare minimum to keep vastly overcharging subscribers.

I'm still not sure about ATSC 3.0. It might work, it might fail. The economic incentives aren't aligned very well for broadcasters, but some could by eyeing a ton of sub-channels to grind out revenue. We'll see I guess.
Don't you think local stations are chomping at the bit to get rid of broadcasting?


Towers and transmitters are expensive. Electricity to run them is expensive.


Most of their viewers watch via cable. What percentage are watching via broadcast? 20%? 10%?
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post #2062 of 2258 Old 08-26-2019, 08:57 AM
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Don't you think local stations are chomping at the bit to get rid of broadcasting? Towers and transmitters are expensive. Electricity to run them is expensive. Most of their viewers watch via cable. What percentage are watching via broadcast? 20%? 10%?
Even though OTA-only viewers are widely considered by advertising agencies to be lower-income, they still get figured into advertising rates. Lopping 10% off of a station's viewership would have a negative impact on advertising revenue, likely greater than the savings that would come from shutting off the transmitter.

Some stations are already double-dipping by sending a different ad set to cable viewers than goes out OTA. Those OTA subchannels are mostly leased, too. Add that revenue up and the electric bill for the transmitter and the lease for the tower space is pretty much covered.
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post #2063 of 2258 Old 08-26-2019, 03:02 PM
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Don't you think local stations are chomping at the bit to get rid of broadcasting?

Towers and transmitters are expensive. Electricity to run them is expensive.

Most of their viewers watch via cable. What percentage are watching via broadcast? 20%? 10%?
You bring up a valid point, but the bigger question is not the cost of the tower and the power to run it, but how retransmission versus free OTA fits into their business model. One school of thought says that they will become more dependent on OTA viewers over time as people cut the cord. Another says just the opposite, with people paying retransmission through streaming TV services.

The bigger question, however, for converting TV spectrum to 5G, is how much the TV stations think that they can extract for that spectrum that they are currently using, and how that aligns to what mobile carriers are willing to pay for it. I predict that TV stations would want way more than what carriers are willing to pay, if carriers are even interested in the first place.
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post #2064 of 2258 Old 08-27-2019, 07:15 PM
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You bring up a valid point, but the bigger question is not the cost of the tower and the power to run it, but how retransmission versus free OTA fits into their business model. One school of thought says that they will become more dependent on OTA viewers over time as people cut the cord. Another says just the opposite, with people paying retransmission through streaming TV services.

The bigger question, however, for converting TV spectrum to 5G, is how much the TV stations think that they can extract for that spectrum that they are currently using, and how that aligns to what mobile carriers are willing to pay for it. I predict that TV stations would want way more than what carriers are willing to pay, if carriers are even interested in the first place.
Eventually, there just won't be enough viewers on ATSC to support it. All the eyeballs will be on various online distributed sources, whether paid (e.g. Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, All Access, etc.) or free ad-supported. Right now, for me using my SD HomeRun OTA tuner and an Apple TV 4K, free OTA TV is just another app. And frankly, 80% of the time, I find more compelling free content in other apps (e.g. Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Vudu, etc.) than I find in the OTA TV app. The only exceptions to that, really, are when high-profile live content is airing via OTA: live sports, new eps of the nightly talk shows (e.g. Kimmel, Fallon, etc.), new ep of SNL, etc. Otherwise, what's the point of launching the OTA app? There's a WAY better selection of movies, classic and niche TV, etc. on-demand, with better PQ, on the free ad-supported services. But, wait, why am I bothering with ads? I have Netflix, ad-free Hulu, Showtime, etc! See the problem?

What I'm arguing is that eventually the licensees of TV airwaves will rather just sell their licenses for the amount that 5G operators will be willing to pay for the spectrum IF they're guaranteed reasonable access to that 5G system for distribution of their ad-supported local content. And while you try to deny it, UHF and high-VHF spectrum will always hold some significant amount of value for IP distribution, if only for distribution to large/non-hand-held devices (e.g. TVs, cars, businesses).

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post #2065 of 2258 Old 08-27-2019, 07:21 PM
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Even though OTA-only viewers are widely considered by advertising agencies to be lower-income, they still get figured into advertising rates. Lopping 10% off of a station's viewership would have a negative impact on advertising revenue, likely greater than the savings that would come from shutting off the transmitter.

Some stations are already double-dipping by sending a different ad set to cable viewers than goes out OTA. Those OTA subchannels are mostly leased, too. Add that revenue up and the electric bill for the transmitter and the lease for the tower space is pretty much covered.
What you're saying is true for now. It won't be true tomorrow when video advertising has majority-shifted over to Google-style programmatic targeted advertising, and when a yet larger share of video viewing takes place on devices (e.g. smartphones) that do not and never will contain an ATSC tuner.
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post #2066 of 2258 Old 08-27-2019, 08:37 PM
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Eventually, there just won't be enough viewers on ATSC to support it. All the eyeballs will be on various online distributed sources, whether paid (e.g. Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, All Access, etc.) or free ad-supported. Right now, for me using my SD HomeRun OTA tuner and an Apple TV 4K, free OTA TV is just another app. And frankly, 80% of the time, I find more compelling free content in other apps (e.g. Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Vudu, etc.) than I find in the OTA TV app. The only exceptions to that, really, are when high-profile live content is airing via OTA: live sports, new eps of the nightly talk shows (e.g. Kimmel, Fallon, etc.), new ep of SNL, etc. Otherwise, what's the point of launching the OTA app? There's a WAY better selection of movies, classic and niche TV, etc. on-demand, with better PQ, on the free ad-supported services. But, wait, why am I bothering with ads? I have Netflix, ad-free Hulu, Showtime, etc! See the problem?
You're overestimating the level of viewership and support that OTA needs to be around. There are a whole bunch of AM radio stations out there that have tiny viewership. Even if it's just some local news, syndicated content, a random assortment of live sports, and a bunch of foreign language channels, OTA TV will be around for a long, long time, at least in the top 50-75 markets.

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What I'm arguing is that eventually the licensees of TV airwaves will rather just sell their licenses for the amount that 5G operators will be willing to pay for the spectrum IF they're guaranteed reasonable access to that 5G system for distribution of their ad-supported local content. And while you try to deny it, UHF and high-VHF spectrum will always hold some significant amount of value for IP distribution, if only for distribution to large/non-hand-held devices (e.g. TVs, cars, businesses).
I just don't see the use cases there, and I don't see carriers wanting that spectrum anyway.
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post #2067 of 2258 Old 08-28-2019, 12:06 AM
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'Niche viewership' -- so what?

While I've *silently* read this thread, its back-and-forth speculations on What The Future Will Bring, the logic and reasoning behind those various points made, FINALLY comes the time when I must make my own comment.

Of substantial agreement!

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You're overestimating the level of viewership and support that OTA needs to be around. There are a whole bunch of AM radio stations out there that have tiny viewership. Even if it's just some local news, syndicated content, a random assortment of live sports, and a bunch of foreign language channels, OTA TV will be around for a long, long time, at least in the top 50-75 markets.
Even without the technological "advancement" of AM-stereo (a largely irrelevant development for music listeners) the once almighty medium of AM radio still lives -- and thrives.
(Albeit far less so than its massive cultural dominance of pre-television days.)

"Tiny viewership" notwithstanding, the number of car radios, clock radios, kitchen radios etc. in existence makes AM radio ACCESS ubiquitous.
And in use regularly, temporally/situationally, or only occasionally.

Similarly, the number of devices with video access capability, having exploded this century, should it prove ultimately only to satisfy 'niche viewership,' sure ain't gonna be part of any presumed death of OTA video broadcasting, whatever form it takes 20 years or more from now.

This conclusion, "OTA TV will be around for a long, long time, at least in the top 50-75 markets" is something with which historical precedent stands in agreement.
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post #2068 of 2258 Old 08-28-2019, 07:20 AM
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You're overestimating the level of viewership and support that OTA needs to be around. There are a whole bunch of AM radio stations out there that have tiny viewership. Even if it's just some local news, syndicated content, a random assortment of live sports, and a bunch of foreign language channels, OTA TV will be around for a long, long time, at least in the top 50-75 markets.



I just don't see the use cases there, and I don't see carriers wanting that spectrum anyway.

It is also possible the FCC will decide that dedicating those airwaves and frequencies to a smaller and smaller demographic is a waste.
The FCC may decide to take them back and give the stations free space with 5G.
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post #2069 of 2258 Old 08-28-2019, 03:06 PM
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Even without the technological "advancement" of AM-stereo (a largely irrelevant development for music listeners) the once almighty medium of AM radio still lives -- and thrives.
(Albeit far less so than its massive cultural dominance of pre-television days.)

"Tiny viewership" notwithstanding, the number of car radios, clock radios, kitchen radios etc. in existence makes AM radio ACCESS ubiquitous.
And in use regularly, temporally/situationally, or only occasionally.
AM radio uses a completely different set of much lower frequencies than either UHF or VHF TV. Basically, no one wants it for anything else. BiggA and I disagree on whether the remaining UHF and High-VHF frequencies will eventually be repurposed for 5G. But certainly neither of us would imagine AM radio being used for any kind of wireless internet!

The fact that it's just not useful for much of anything else is why AM radio is able to survive despite the fact that it has very, very poor audio quality with very, very few listeners (and likely most of the listeners it does have are elderly/getting ready to meet their Maker). If there was actually market demand for those AM frequencies to be used for something more popular than the kind of programming that's carried on AM radio, then the businesses (stations) operating on those frequencies wouldn't be able to afford the licenses. Other businesses would outbid them. But since no one wants them, those stations can get the licenses for cheap and eek out a meager profit by selling ads for walk-in tubs and life insurance.

Just as a reminder, the spectrum goes like this from higher to lower frequencies, with higher frequencies able to carry more data but travel shorter distances and require smaller antennas, and lower frequencies able to carry less data but travel further distances and require bigger antennas:
  • 5G/4G/3G cellular data
  • UHF TV
  • High-VHF TV
  • FM radio
  • Low-VHF TV
  • Short-wave radio
  • AM radio

Right now, TV stations are changing from higher to lower frequencies because the government is in the process of converting the upper end of the UHF TV frequency range over to 5G/4G cellular. So what I'm saying will happen in the future already has precedent. I'm just saying that it will happen again. The FCC will announce that more -- perhaps eventually all -- of the remaining UHF and even high-VHF TV spectrum will be converted over to 5G or 6G or whatever form of wireless internet transmission we're using then.
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post #2070 of 2258 Old 08-28-2019, 03:41 PM
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Beyond all my hypothetical talk about new distribution models for free local TV, here's the bottom line as it pertains to the main subject of this thread, as I see it:

Why should local broadcasters want to see the spectrum that they license and use converted from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0 rather than from ATSC 1.0 to 5G? Even if TV broadcasters very much want to retain that spectrum and continue to own and operate their own broadcast towers, why, at this point in technological history, move toward ATSC 3.0? Why not instead embrace 5G, which will be a much more open, global standard, with two-way transmission built in?

Proponents of ATSC 3.0 like it because it allows them to continue blasting out OTA TV in a way-one stream to viewers while also opening up new monetization opportunities since it has some internet-like aspects (e.g. bitpooling/offloading data transmissions from 5G networks, etc.). But at this point, ATSC 3.0 seems like a half measure. Why not go with 5G, which would allow broadcasters to use some or all of their bandwidth for free local broadcast TV via FeMBMS (multicast video over 5G), with the rest of the bandwidth used for other monetization opportunities?

If TVs were eventually required by the FCC to contain 5G chips, they would automatically have a return IP path back to stations, meaning that stations wouldn't have to rely on viewers to connect their TVs to their own separate broadband connection. And while we'll probably never see smartphone makers putting ATSC 3.0 tuners in their products, it's much easier to conceive of the FCC mandating that the 5G cellular radios in phones include support for whatever range of 5G frequencies that local broadcasters would use. THAT'S how Sinclair et al. could maybe get their free local TV broadcasts on smartphones. (Getting antennas in small handheld phones to reliably tune in those frequencies, regardless of whether they're using ATSC 3.0 or 5G, could be a challenge, though.)

Here's a simpler way to think about it: which do you think has the stronger hand in the US economy today and in the 2020s? Smartphone giants (Apple, Samsung, Google) and cellular network operators (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.)? Or local OTA TV broadcasters (Sinclair, Nexstar, etc.)? It isn't even close. When you're the weaker party, you have to dance to the tune set by the stronger party. The tune they're setting is the internet, specifically 5G. Broadcasters want to isolate themselves over on their own separate standard, ATSC 3.0, as they grow weaker and weaker relative to the big boys embracing 5G. It makes no sense.
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