Can an upstart nonprofit called Locast succeed where the now defunct Aereo service failed and find a way to deliver local TV broadcasts over the Internet without incurring the wrath of the federal government, not to mention Comcast?

Aeroe, for those who remember, claimed that it used arrays of antennas—one per subscriber——o capture OTA (over the air) TV broadcasts and deliver them to viewers via Internet streaming. The company was quickly sued and put out of business!

The idea behind Locast, which went national on August 2, 2018 and is expanding, is that there is a federal law which allows a nonprofit organization to boost local OTA TV signals—to “translate” them in the parlance of the law—with the goal of expanding the range of local TV coverage. So, Locast is structured as a nonprofit, and so far it has not been sued. If you want to read the actual law used as justification for Locast, click here .

This service came to my attention through an article in Philly.com, which mentioned that it is now available in the greater Philadelphia TV market.

The novel argument that the nonprofit organization puts forth is that is boosting TV signals, but doing so through the Internet rather than with antennas. But there are in fact antennas involved, in that the company sets them up to receive the signals, which it then converts and streams over the Internet.

Of course, the cool thing here is that since this is a nonprofit, there is no subscription fee. This is free local TV streaming! Operations will be funded through donations.

So far, Locast is available in the following cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York and Philadelphia. Watching free TV with Locast simply requires logging in using an email address, and the web interface even offers a familiar TV listing grid.

Locast works on a number of streaming platforms, smart devices, as well as PC and all you have to do to get started is point the browser to Locast.org . It bills itself as a public service to Americans. In Philadelphia, Locast offers 15 channels total while New Yorkers get 18 and Chicago has 14.

As I wrote this piece, I gave Locast a try. Signing up took seconds, I used my Facebook account to do it with one click. And then… TV. Right away! It works and it looks… great. The major networks were all there: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. What's more, there's even a Roku app for Locast, making it fast cheap and easy to add it to a TV, as well as an Android app for phone streaming without a browser.

Having just now tried Locast, I feel compelled to ask: Why did this take so long? Did it have to be so tough? Was it because it has to be a public service and not for-profit like Aereo?

For now, who cares! I hope the service thrives and grows and to that end, I have donated $5 to it just on principle. This is nothing less than broadcast TV itself finally making the leap to the Internet. I hope it lasts.