A pilot project in Los Angeles where two television stations successfully shared a single channel could go a long way to advancing the Federal Communications Commission's goal to coax more stations to voluntarily give up some of their spectrum for the wireless auction.
The FCC proposed rules to allow channel sharing in 2012, but without any real test of the option, broadcasters were skeptical. So The CTIA-The Wireless Association, which of course would like to see more spectrum for its members, helped facilitate the test between KLCS, the market's PBS station and Hispanic station KJLA.
Results of the test, released today, concluded that channel sharing is "feasible" and would have minimal impact for viewers. Each station could broadcast a high definition signal, as well as a number of standard definition streams; three high definition signals are also technically possible.
For FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who has no more important item on his agenda than running a successful auction of wireless spectrum in 2015, the positive test results give him another talking point as he tries to persuade TV broadcasters to voluntarily give up some, or all, of their spectrum. Without enough broadcasters giving up spectrum, the FCC's auction could come up short, leaving wireless companies without enough to feed consumers' growing mobile habits.
Responding to the positive news of the test, Wheeler made his pitch: "In business, it is very rare to be able to have your cake and eat it too. It is my hope that broadcasters closely study the channel sharing pilot project report as they consider the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered by the upcoming incentive auction."