FCC to Vote on Plan to Use ATSC 3.0 for ‘Broadcast Internet’

Federal Trade Commission LogoThe Federal Communications Commission is planning to take a close look at the possibility of using the new ATSC 3.0 standard to offer internet service. Commissioner Brendan Carr said the FCC will discuss his plans for what’s being billed as “broadcast internet.”

“Broadcast internet services are poised to offer a new and competitive broadband pipe,” Carr said in a press release. “These services can leverage the power and coverage of broadcast television spectrum to deliver high-speed, 25 Mbps internet services.”

Carr spoke about his plan during an online event hosted by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Technology Association. While ATSC 3.0 can offer up improvements like 4K video quality and improved sound, Carr focused on other potential use cases, including the ability to offer consumers a new broadband option, alongside cable, fiber, and satellite. Broadcast internet, he said, could help advance efforts like autonomous driving, IoT, telemedicine and more. To get there, though, Carr’s proposal includes removing certain regulations currently in place for broadcasters.

“To boost the build out of next-gen broadcast internet services, we should remove the overhang of legacy media regulations,” he said. “The FCC will be voting on a measure that does just that.”

Specifically, the FCC is expected to vote on a Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that states, among other details, that, “FCC’s broadcast television station ownership rules do not apply to leasing arrangements between broadcasters and third parties for the provision of broadcast internet services.”

In his keynote, Carr laid out what that decision could mean in practice. Essentially, it would permit broadcasters to enter into lease agreements with other broadcasters in a given geographic market to offer broadcast internet without falling under the FCC’s attribution or ownership rules for TV stations. Carr says making this rule change gives broadcasters the flexibility they’ll need to deploy the new service.

The FCC’s June open meeting is scheduled for 10:30 to 12:30 ET on June 9th. We’ll keep a close eye on proceedings and let you know of any developments.

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