Content Delivery Is Moving from Satellite to Terrestrial Delivery

By Fred Cunha  | 

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began the process of auctioning the use of nearly two-thirds of the “C-band” spectrum to private enterprise, for eventual use in transmitting and implementing 5G service. The C-band is a specific frequency range around 4GHz which will soon begin to dramatically change, thereby impacting many local television stations reliant on that same spectrum for the delivery of syndicated content and other programming. For years, companies like Extreme Reach have been delivering syndicated television content to television stations via satellite using C-band. This is about to change, as the amount of C-Band available for satellite use will be greatly reduced.

A spectrum auction is not just normal, but popular. The auction is a process in which the government (represented by the FCC in the U.S.) holds public bidding for the right to transmit over specific electromagnetic bands. Spectrum resources are finite and the auctions generate government revenue while keeping the process transparent. As of January 6, 2021, the auction has reached $74 billion and is ongoing. What this means for television stations who receive syndicated content over this band is simple: they’ll have to find a new way to receive content.

In order for 5G and satellite links to coexist, most remaining satellite feeds will be required to change frequency and filtering will need to be installed on all C-band dishes to prevent interference. In the midst of this activity, maintaining satellite delivery would be costly and frustrating. Many individual satellite dishes at stations, in addition to requiring the installation of special filters, will likely need maintenance work as well. The C-band auction presents an opportunity not just to get ahead of what’s coming, but also to improve systems for the long term. Syndicated content delivery from Extreme Reach is now being converted to terrestrial, IP-based delivery as shows transition to a cloud-based system that allows for instant access and easier file transfer.

Once stations are ready to receive files via the cloud, transitioning to the new system will be seamless with few changes. Extreme Reach’s AdBridge platform is a long-trusted source for ads, promos, PSAs, paid programs and News, and you may already be set up to receive content from the cloud for retransmissions. The advantages of cloud-based, terrestrial content delivery include:

  • Immediate access to shows once they’re ready
  • Ability to manage the download queue
  • The use of BXF for metadata
  • No need to allocate a dish for receiving shows
  • No satellite reception issues
  • No need for special equipment

Stations who have made the switch are praising the ease and speed of terrestrial delivery, noting the smooth transition and support from Extreme Reach. This is not the first FCC auction to reshape spectrum access, and it won’t be the last. Our team is at the ready to help configure changes and ensure stations stay ahead of what’s coming next.

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