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Boston TV station scores temporary license to test 5G broadcastBoston TV station scores temporary license to test 5G broadcast

The FCC has granted an experimental license to WWOO-LD to conduct 5G broadcast tests through January 16, 2024.

Jeff Baumgartner

July 17, 2023

3 Min Read
Boston TV station scores temporary license to test 5G broadcast
(Source: Isabel Infantes/Alamy Stock Photo)

The FCC has granted a Boston-area low-power TV (LPTV) station a temporary, experimental license to test a 5G broadcast system: an important step toward a grander plan that envisions providing national coverage across thousands of stations.

The FCC granted the temporary license to Milachi Media, a company connected to the WWOO-LD TV station, on July 14. The license gives the station authority to conduct 5G broadcast tests with the temporary license through January 16, 2024.

The proposed 5G broadcast system will tap into UHF frequencies to deliver one-way (downstream-only) 5G signals that complement existing interactive 5G cellular networks. The general aim is to provide supplemental broadcast downloads that can take stress off the 5G mobile networks, backers recently told Light Reading.

For the test, Milachi/WWOO-LD will continue to provide traditional TV programming using 5G broadcast while also using the platform to support video and data services and emergency alert capabilities for first responders.

Qualcomm is already on board to supply Android phones with software that can adapt to 5G broadcast by filtering in the UHF frequencies. The trial will also use receivers and set-tops equipped to receive 5G broadcast signals.

"Such technology will allow broadcast television signals to be received by the public on their smartphones, tablets, and any device (including traditional television sets) with a 5G chip that has been manufactured to permit the reception of 5G transmissions within the broadcast television band," the FCC explained in a letter approving the temporary license. "We find that Milachi has proposed a definite program of research and experimentation; stands ready to proceed with such research; is not expected to cause any objectional interference; and 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."

Proof-of-concept to launch this fall

With the experimental license in-hand, the goal is to launch the proof-of-concept 5G broadcast system this fall with one programming channel and one first responder data stream, "SuperFrank" Copsidas, founder of the Low Power TV Broadcasters Association (LPTVBA), said via email.

"Once it is operational and stable, we will look at a long list of possibilities and pick the next feature of 5G Broadcast," he added.

Copsidas also heads up XGen Network, a company that aims to act as a broker for the 5,300-plus US LPTV stations. The idea is for XGen Network to serve as a one-stop shop for wireless carrier and content owners interested in participating in the proposed 5G broadcast platform.

With 5G broadcast already tied into the 3GPP standards, the organization recently approved UHF frequencies in a new 108 band (480MHz-608MHz).

The 5G broadcast system being proposed enters the picture as others in the US TV broadcasting sector pursue ATSC 3.0, a more regionally focused next-generation, IP-based broadcast TV signaling standard.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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