NAB showcases Sezmi, a hybrid broadcast-broadband television service, in debate over spectrum
The National Association of Broadcasters is asking federal regulators to keep over-the-air spectrum for next-generation digital television services that could bring their beleaguered businesses new ways of making money.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, the trade association promoted a hybrid broadcast-broadband television service, Sezmi. It was one of several startups the trade group hopes will convince regulators to let them keep airwaves.
“The government is not good at choosing winners and losers and it would be so terrible after the digital television transition to pick winners and losers,” said NAB president Gordon Smith in a press conference last Friday.
Sezmi’s paid service is meant to replace cable or satellite television subscription, the company said. CEO Buno Pati, a former computer science professor at Harvard University and Stanford University, said the combination of broadcast and cable and broadband service gives users flexibility and more efficient use of spectrum.
That means you can customize a page for your own favorite show and Web pages and others in the household can have their own pages. You can surf YouTube or Facebook while playing live broadcasts of CNN, USA, Discovery, Bravo and dozens more cable and broadcast channels. The Internet connectivity allows you to order shows on demand, so shows can be watched any time.
The service will cost $5 for a digital recording box and $25 a month for subscription. Sezmi said it will launch its service later this year.
“Dozens of partnerships are in place, technical trials are complete, and consumers are flooding the company with demands for an alternative to expensive cable and satellite packages,” Pati said.
The Federal Communications Commission has said it will explore ways to obtain more spectrum and bring to commercial wireless mobile carriers. That could include choice over-the-air signals not currently being used by broadcasters. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at CES last week that to meet the needs of all the gadgets, notebooks, and home appliances that will tap into the Web over mobile networks, the federal government will have to reallocated spectrum.
"We are asking the question of whether there is something we can do to incentivize greater spectrum efficiency in devices and software," he said. "I don't know that there is anything we can do in the short term, but it's a question that we need to ask."
by Cecilia Kang
January 11, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
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