Electronic Design

FCC Roadblocks COFDM Petition

Finally, it could be over. By unanimous vote, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied the petition filed by Sinclair Broadcast Group requesting that the COFDM modulation standard be added to the U.S. digital TV (DTV) standard.

According to the FCC, numerous studies to date support the conclusion that NTSC replication is attainable under the 8-VSB standard. The commission also agreed with 8-VSB proponents who claimed that the concerns raised in the Sinclair petition only applied to first-generation DTV receiver implementations. A number of companies have already taken the necessary steps to resolve the multipath problems exhibited in those receivers, as well.

The FCC noted that its Office of Engineering and Technology recently analyzed the relative merits of the two standards. It concluded that the benefits of changing the DTV transmission standard to COFDM would not outweigh the costs of making such a revision. Then, it reiterated its view that allowing more than one standard could result in compatibility problems, which could cause consumers and licensees to postpone purchasing DTV equipment. This would then lead to significant delays in the implementation and provision of DTV services to the public. The FCC also said that development of a COFDM standard would result in a multiyear effort, rather than the "unrealistic" 120 days suggested in the Sinclair petition.

While it dismissed Sinclair's petition, the FCC recognized the importance of the issues raised. It was stated, however, that the DTV standard's adequacy would be better addressed in the context of the commission's review of the entire DTV transition. The FCC said it will commence its biennial review of the DTV transition within 30 days.

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