ATSC 3.0 on Docket for Senate Spectrum Hearing

GOP memo cites FCC's proposed authorization of voluntary rollout

Look for the ATSC 3.0 next generation TV transmission standard to get some attention at a March 2 spectrum hearing in the Senate Communications Subcommittee.

At least it made the list of issues teed up for the hearing, entitled "Exploring the Value of Spectrum to the U.S. Economy," according to a copy of the Republican hearing memo.

While the issue is listed as "NTSC 3.0" in the heading, the memo accurately frames the issue, saying that the new standard allows for ultra-high definition TV, immersive audio, targeted emergency alerts and more.

It cites the FCC's proposal last week to authorize the voluntary rollout of the standard, saying it will merge “the capabilities of over-the-air broadcasting with the broadband viewing and information delivery methods of the Internet, using the same 6 MHz channels presently allocated for [digital television].”

Other issues listed in the memo include:

The Mobile Now Act, which requires freeing up 255 MHz of spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless by 2020, with at least 100 MHz of that going to unlicensed use. It would also streamline easements and rights of way for mobile broadband buildouts and create a National Broadband Facilities Asset Database.

The broadcast incentive auction, which wraps up March 30 with broadcasters giving up 84 MHz for about $10 billion and wireless operators offering up about $19.6 billion, plus whatever is added through the follow-on assignment phase auction. The memo points out that over the past 24 years, "the FCC has conducted 87 auctions raising over $100 billion dollars for the U.S. Treasury and clearing spectrum for its highest-value use."

Unlicensed spectrum includes Wi-Fi, wireless microphones and Bluetooth operations.

The FCC is in the process of opening up 5G and other high-band spectrum, including flexible use licensing and sharing. As the memo points out, use of high-band will mean greater density of cell sites and the accompanying issues with speeding deployment.