Sinclair outlines converged broadcast/broadband vision

Sinclair Broadcast Group, the country’s largest TV group owner, is also a communications technology proponent. With partner Coherent Logix, a developer of software defined radio (SDR) technology, it’s behind one of several systems up for consideration in the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) for next-generation television in the U.S.. The new standard will be known as ATSC 3.0.

On March 16 I heard Sinclair vice-president Mark Aitken describe its “One Media” proposal to a meeting of the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers.

The vision is to aggregate TV, mobile, and other spectrum in the UHF band and act as a nationwide neutral host wireless network to serve as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for broadcast and unicast clients
. Infrastructure would be frequency and waveform agile, supporting any wireless standard using SDR.

Aitken says there’s interest from the wireless industry. The appeal to mobile operators would be the ability to deliver mobile broadcast content from one or few towers in a more “pure broadcast” fashion. This would free up what might have been cellular broadcasting capacity for unicast or localized broadcast scenarios, such as stadium events.

Broadcast, mobile, and federal spectrum resources could be aggregated and a “Broadcast Market Exchange” would give all spectrum holders an option to participate and interoperate by way of an open process with defined trading procedures.

Sinclair

One Media is an ambitious concept, but ATSC 3.0 likely won’t be backward compatible anyway, so it’s a good time to be ambitious. One Media is along a two-year timeline to specify it’s platform, and demonstrations with a wireless partner are expected, possibly in a year.

There’s a chance the standard developed by ATSC won’t be that appealing to Sinclair or other TV broadcasters. Aitken says Sinclair is supportive of that standardization process, but with 167 TV stations, and with the right wireless partners, it might not be that dependent on the outcome at ATSC.