Today the Commission voted to adopt a Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the new Advanced Television Systems Committee standard 3.0. The declaratory ruling clarifies that television ownership restrictions shall not apply to spectrum that broadcasters lease to providers of Broadcast Internet services. This gives broadcast television licensees the ability to license excess capacity to other broadcasters or third parties without  triggering the Commission’s attribution or ownership rules for television stations. 

The Commission noted that those television station rules, which identify the specific kinds of “cognizable interests” that allow a party to “own, operate or control” a television station or “otherwise provide an attributable interest,” regulate traditional broadcast television services and have no application to innovative broadcast internet services. 

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on: 

    • the extent to which the Commission should further clarify or modify its rules in order to further promote the deployment of Broadcast Internet services as part of the transition to ATSC 3.0; 
    • the potential uses of new technological capabilities that may be associated with the deployment of ATSC 3.0;
    • any changes or clarifications that may be necessary to the ancillary and supplementary service fee rules or the rules defining derogation of service and analogous services: and 
    • how the supplementary service fees should be calculated or how much should be charged. 

If widely adopted the new standard could help bring connectivity to rural and hard to reach areas that do not currently have access to 25 Mbps speeds. The ATSC 3.0 standard allows for ultra high definition broadcasting and includes other technical improvements such as high-dynamic range and a higher frame rate. Additionally, the new standard has the capacity to push large volumes of data over it’s broadcast signals. This creates new possibilities for every home within range of an ATSC 3.0 signal to receive up to 25 Mbps of internet access, even if their existing internet access is limited to a lower speed. 

Next Century Cities will continue to explore ways to expand high-speed connectivity to every community. You can read more about the ATSC 3.0 standard Fact Sheet, Declaratory Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking here.