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'Likely Unnecessary'

ATSC 3.0 Commenters Throw Cold Water on 5G Broadcast Proposal

NAB takes no position on the “merits” of the 5G Broadcast technology espoused by Qualcomm for over-the-air TV content delivery to mobile devices as a complement to ATSC 3.0 (see 2208080065), said the association in reply comments Tuesday at the FCC in docket 16-142.

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But NAB disagrees with Qualcomm’s proposal that the FCC should issue a further notice in the same proceeding as ATSC 3.0 seeking comment on 5G Broadcast’s deployment, it said. The “plain language” of the commission’s rules “already appears to authorize broadcasters’ use of 5G Broadcast technology as described by Qualcomm, suggesting that a further notice is likely unnecessary,” said NAB.

Contrary to NAB’s neutral position on the workings behind 5G Broadcast, One Media 3.0 and Pearl TV framed Qualcomm’s technology proposal as a cure in search of a disease, and called Qualcomm’s rulemaking request a likely distraction. Initiating a 5G Broadcast proceeding would “unnecessarily slow” 3.0's deployment and “sow confusion” in the market, commented One Media. Qualcomm didn't immediately comment.

Qualcomm’s 5G Broadcast proposal is “not 5G,” but a “restyled cell phone offering” using an LTE-based approach known as further enhanced multimedia broadcast service “with adaptations to work with larger cells,” said One Media. The technology Qualcomm describes “is not efficient for mobile broadcast because the underlying waveform structure is still based on 4G unicast legacy,” it said.

One Media called Qualcomm’s approach “an inefficient mechanism to convert a one-to-one cell phone platform into a one-to-many broadcast distribution system.” ATSC 3.0 services “are not intended to supplant the evolution to a more robust cell phone network,” but will provide “a fully complementary and supplementary addition to a 5G service with distinct efficiency advantages,” it said.

Though “elements” of Qualcomm’s proposal “may be useful to broadcasters and consumers in certain instances as future services are developed,” the FCC shouldn't slow down 3.0's deployment “by introducing regulatory uncertainty into infrastructure requirements and, in particular, into the decisions by manufacturers of broadcast receivers,” said One Media. The last thing the 3.0 deployment process needs “is confusion among equipment designers and manufacturers as to operative requirements,” it said: “A further rulemaking proceeding on this issue would be most unnecessary and indeed harmful to the deployment process.”

The FCC should stay “focused on the mission at hand and not get distracted by proposals for additional rulemakings that are unnecessary” and could slow the pace of 3.0 deployment, commented Pearl TV on the Qualcomm proposal. Qualcomm’s request for a rulemaking to permit 5G Broadcast as “an alternative optional broadcast television transmission standard is unwarranted,” it said.

Pearl doesn’t regard the mobile-based technology in Qualcomm’s proposal as “any sort of magic bullet to enable mass deployment of a direct-to-mobile broadcast service,” it said. Pearl agreed with NAB that FCC rules “already permit” broadcasters to deploy 5G Broadcast, “if they determine it would be worthwhile,” without the need for the commission “to initiate a separate rulemaking.”