Blog Post 2
BitPath Voices Its Support for Revising the FCC’s SFN Rules
By John Hane
June 15, 2020
On Friday, BitPath filed comments supporting the FCC’s recent proposal to give broadcasters more flexibility to deploy single frequency networks, or “SFNs”. SFNs allow broadcasters to improve their coverage in areas that otherwise might be under-served or unserved, such as at the edge of the contour or in the shadows of mountains or other terrain features.
The higher and more uniform signal levels we can achieve with SFNs will allow BitPath to respond to growing demand for broadcast data services. Higher power translates directly into more capacity. BitPath’s comments explain why we need the greatest possible flexibility to design and choose tower sites for our SFN networks in order to provide the greatest amount of capacity for long-term growth of data services, and to allow broadcasters to improve service to their communities.
This FCC proceeding is part of a long-overdue rethinking of the rules that control use of the frequency spectrum allocated for broadcast television. For years, virtually everyone in the spectrum business, and most regulators in Washington, has understood that the fat tomes of mid-20th century broadcast regulations were blocking innovation in the most valuable portion of the entire radiocommunications spectrum. But instead of removing or revising those regulations, the FCC simply reallocated the broadcast spectrum for wireless mobile services. The moment the FCC reallocated the spectrum – and freed it from the ancient broadcast technical rules – its utility and its value grew exponentially. That former television spectrum is now the backbone of all of the major wireless carriers’ networks.
The FCC’s arcane and long-outdated regulations have choked tens of billions of value out of the spectrum broadcasters use. Now the FCC is finally taking steps to allow broadcasters themselves to innovate and participate in the mobile and wireless revolutions. The first major step was the FCC’s 2017 decision to allow broadcasters to use ATSC 3.0 (instead of an outdated 25-year-old government-mandated technology). Now the FCC is proposing to allow innovators like BitPath to have more flexibility to build sophisticated broadcast data networks that rely on single frequency networks. BitPath fully supports this effort.
In a rare unanimous vote, the five FCC commissioners have recently started what promises to be the biggest step of all – a wide-ranging review of its broadcast rules with an eye towards eliminating unnecessary regulations that hamper innovation. The public deserves the best technology and services their valuable spectrum can support, and broadcasters deserve the chance to provide them.