CTIA Reports Results of Channel Sharing Project

CTIA-The Wireless Association and Los Angeles television stations KLCS and KJLA have released results of a pilot project that the participants say showed “channel sharing is feasible, and is a technically viable option for broadcasters with minimal impact for viewers.”

The full report on the project can be found here.

“The pilot study conducted by KJLA and KLCS demonstrates that channel sharing is technically viable for broadcasters considering this option,” said Alan Popkin, director of TV engineering, at KLCS in a statement. “To the extent that similar combinations arise elsewhere, this report may serve as a baseline assessment of sharing.”

In another statement, Francis Wilkinson, VP and general manager of KJLA added that “our collaboration with KLCS yielded extremely valuable and interesting data about the promise of channel sharing, without adverse effect on our over-the-air audience. We hope that our pilot project and the report issued today will allow interested parties to further explore the possibilities associated with channel sharing.”

KJLA is the flagship station for the LATV Network, while KLCS is a non-commercial station broadcast owned and operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The project was first announced Jan. 28, 2014 and approved for testing by the FCC on Feb. 4.

The participants say the test found that “physical and virtual level channel sharing is feasible” and that “it is technically possible to combine two high definition (HD) television streams onto a single channel.”

In addition, the project concluded that “two HD streams may be combined with additional standard definition (SD) program streams. Up to two additional SD streams are possible without major impact to the quality of experience of the overall material. Additional SD streams may be possible with additional testing and analysis.”

During the pilot, the parties also tested one HD and up to seven SD streams in a ATSC channel “with good results.”

But the report noted that “in order to ensure a positive viewer experience, the FCC and broadcasters must carefully plan a transition to a repacked television band that includes consumer guidance on rescanning.”

Broadcasters have been concerned that the upcoming FCC spectrum auctions and the resulting channel repacking and channel sharing would hurt their ability to offer high quality signals and develop next generation services.

The CTIA, which has been a major proponent of the auctions as a way of freeing up spectrum for use by its members, touted the test as proof that freeing up spectrum would not hurt broadcasters.

“The thorough and thoughtful testing done by the engineers at KLCS and KJLA clearly validates the significant opportunities that channel sharing will provide television broadcasters without impacting their viewers,” argued Steve Largent (pictured), president and CEO, CTIA in a statement. “With the facts demonstrating the successful benefits of channel sharing, we are hopeful broadcasters will review the testing and consider this option for participating in the FCC’s Incentive Auction. Freeing up spectrum through the Incentive Auction will, in turn, enable the wireless industry to purchase the spectrum so we may continue to meet user demands for Internet access anywhere, anytime.”