The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a broadcast station in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, an experimental special temporary authority (STA) to test 5G broadcasting.

The FCC granted the STA to Milachi Media, the licensee of low power television translator station WWOO-LD, in Westmoreland. The STA is good through January 16, 2024.

The test involves broadcasting signals to any device that has a 5G chip, including smartphones, tablets and television sets. The station will simultaneously broadcast in 5G as well as ATSC 1.0 for people who do not have devices with a 5G chip.

The FCC’s letter granting the STA said, “Milachi and its partners (XGEN Networks, Qualcomm, and others) envision 5G broadcast not only as a means for transmitting traditional television service, but also a way to potentially reduce congestion on existing 5G networks.” 

For instance, 5G broadcast could alleviate congestion of wireless networks during live sporting events when people are trying to watch the game on their phones. Mobile networks, which use one-to-one transmissions, can become overwhelmed when there are thousands of users trying to watch the same thing. But broadcast is a one-to-many transmission technology, which can handle the traffic.

“The 5,000 LPTV broadcast stations that collectively cover the whole country with existing towers, transmitters, etc., will be able to provide that content to wireless customers through supplemental downloads,” wrote the FCC.

5G broadcast could be used for other purposes as well, such as public safety broadcasts, distance learning and software updates to connected devices.

The FCC wrote, “The experiment is likely to provide valuable information to allow broadcasters to better understand how 5G broadcast can be used not only for traditional television services, but also new and innovative video and data services.”

The STA has been issued on a non-interference basis and may be immediately modified or terminated if the operation causes interference to any other licensed user, including but not limited to broadcast television or radio users.

Meanwhile, Frank Copsidas, president of the LPTV Broadcasters Association, and veteran broadcaster Bill Christian, are advocating for 5G broadcasting.

Christian has filed an FCC application for an experimental license for his LPTV station in Boston to demonstrate 5G broadcasting capability.

According to Boulder Thinking principal Preston Padden, 5G broadcasting “has the potential to be the equivalent of a massive addition of spectrum to the mobile wireless ecosystem.”

Padden said the 3GPP 5G spec long has included a provision for Broadcast Supplemental Downloads.  And Copsidas and Christian, with help from Qualcomm, got the 3GPP to add American UHF broadcast frequencies to the 3GPP list of approved frequencies. The full range of American UHF frequencies has now been added as approved Band 108.

Copsidas and Christian have created a new company, XGN, to act as a central point of communication for wireless carriers and LPTV 5G datacasting stations. And they’re touting their reasons for 5G broadcasting with slides like the below.

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