[opendtv] DTT in the US

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 11:32:13 -0500

Craig Birkmaier wrote:

>> What do they have the aversion to? ATSC, or providing
>> hardware for non-subscription services, or some other
>> excuse we've yet to unfathom?
> Creating a product for which there is NO potential market.

So you agree that it isn't ATSC specifically these CE guys
aren't interested in, but rather freeview in the US. But
according to a recent Mark's Memo, it appears that OTA TV
is actually used by some 22 percent of US households rather
than 15 percent, so I think you are probably way off base
on this.

(29 Dec 2005 memo: 51% of those surveyed had cable, which
is a lot lower than NCTA's 66.8% in February.  26% had
satellite, which seems pretty close to other estimates, but
22% used off-air reception, which is higher than other

> Broadcasters have NO current interest in competing with
> cable and DBS

I'm not sure how this differs in Europe. However,
broadcasters ought to behave like any other business, and
pay attention to their what their customers are asking for.
(Assuming they don't already do this, of course.) If
customers refuse to be coerced into a subscription scheme,
the free market should accommodate that (unless there's
illegal funny business going on).

> I am preparing a lengthy message


> For now, let's just say that broadcasters have no reason
> to create a "Freeview like" service, when they have the
> opportunity to pull in 30 cents per month (or more), per
> subscriber, from the cable and DBS systems that are
> delivering their content. Thus there is NO incentive for
> manufacturers to create products for the small number of
> consumer - such as yourself - who remain committed to
> receiving broadcasts for free via DTV transmissions.

But we've been over this many times. There is still, no
matter whether the actual percentage is 15 or 22, an
enormous number of households who "say no" to this
addiction that you claim everyone suffers from. Compared
with individual Euro markets, e.g. the UK DTT market, even
15 percent of US households is a huge number. And that
doesn't even include the OTA users who also subscribe to
an umbillical service.

> How many of those multiplexes duplicate the same content
> for different markets?

None, as far as I can tell. Each of the DTT stations has
created a different set of multicasts, which is exactly
as I had predicted. The main -1 channel might be the same
*during prime time*, but otherwise these are different
multiplexes. I agree that many subchannels are not all
that interesting (e.g. one of the local station's -2
stream is just the weather radar picture), but the concept
is still correct, IMO, and the potential is enormous.

> Sorry Bert, but your situation is NOT representative of
> how the NTSC or ATSC broadcast services were designed
> to work. You just happen to live in an area where the
> signals from two markets overlap,

Well, you got enough responses on that score, Craig, and
many of us simply disagree with you. Many OTA users do
very much take advantage of adjacent markets, and that's
IN FACT one of the advantages that OTA has over the
umbillical media.

In Europe, the situation is different. In Europe, OTA
works much as it would here in the US *if* the FCC
eliminated their national caps entirely. This would
create a number of nationwide OTA networks. If that were
true here as well, *then* you might have a point. But
that's not the situation in the US today, so what
affilated stations transmit is NOT the same.

> I don't want to drag this discussion into the old
> "wasted spectrum debate" we have engaged in for years,
> but your claim is meaningless.

That "wasted spectrum" debate is meaningless. Look
again at the reality of European DTT infrastructures,
and you'll see no difference from here in the US. Just
as we have different affiliates here, operating on
different frequencies in adjacent markets, they have
translators there, also operating on different
frequencies to cover their required coverage areas.
*No* practical difference.

Just as they *could*, in principle, create wide-scale
synchronized SFNs there, the same can be done here.

Just as you claim we have 7 actual multiplexes here,
operating on a number of frequency bands, Euro DTT
infrastructures also have a similar number of DTT
multiplexes, operating on a similar number of frequency
bands from all the translator stations. And in those
countries that use low power transmitters, all that
means is they need denser mesh of translators to obtain
coverage. I did some numbers to prove that point

Also, most ATSC broadcast stations today are at power
levels similar to what you find in Europe. In DC, 4 of
the 8 multiplexes are well below 1 MW. These 4 are
transmitting 232 KW, 194 KW, 67 KW, 65 KW.

In Baltimore, 5 of the 8 multiplexes are transmitting
way under 1 MW. These are 349 KW, 140 KW, and three
stations are at 50 KW.

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