Areconfigured FCC, a reshuffled spectrum marketplace, and a newly opened door to next-gen TV broadcasts wait at the 2017 NAB Show. As broadcasters head back to Las Vegas for the show scheduled from April 24 to 27, 2017 they expect to see issues like regulation, standards, and new technology implementations dominate discussions.

After the Auction

This year's NAB certainly looks different, particularly after the FCC's (Federal Communications Commission) broadcast spectrum auction. Heading into NAB for the first time since the completion of the auction, companies like 21st Century Fox, Tribune Media, and Gray Television will receive millions as part of the FCC's airwave spectrum auction. As of press time, the auction had successfully repurposed 84 MHz of low-band spectrum, including 70 MHz of licensed spectrum and 14 MHz for unlicensed use. Although TV station owners are expected to net about USD 10 billion, some have been disappointed by the auction results, starting with the NAB itself. Wireless providers spent years promoting the specious spectrum crisis claim, asserts Dennis Wharton, Executive Vice President, Communications, NAB after the first stage of the auction. "Yet when they had the chance to solve this alleged crisis, the carriers suddenly closed their wallets," he adds.

The next issue sure to be discussed during the show is of channel repack, a process that was set to begin near the beginning of April. The goal NAB looks at is to develop the right repacking plan and transition schedule that avoids service disruptions.

Drones on the Rise

This year's show will be the first since the FAA issued new regulations on the commercial use of drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems. New drone technology and virtualization will garner the spotlight.

Interest in drones at the NAB Show has grown over the last two years. By the end of 2017, according to report from Gartner, drones are expected to rake in USD 7 billion in revenue. That number is expected to hit USD 11.2 billion
by 2020. Recent technological advances blur the lines, allowing personal drones to be used in many special-purpose applications.

All about IP

The show will also continue to examine changes in how viewers are consuming video.

Today's average consumer is consuming four more hours of mobile video every week than they did in the past. That means broadcasters must continue to plot a future around new services and synergies, and adapt technology to deliver video in immersive ways.

The NAB Show will also give attendees a glimpse at the progress being made in the ongoing transition to IP infrastructure. A growing number of companies – from Artel Video Systems and Video Clarity to Imagine Communications and Pebble Beach Systems– are showing IP-based solutions designed to transport live, broadcast-quality media.

Virtualization and the Cloud

A number of companies at the show plan to showcase how other technologies such as virtualization are playing out in the real world in sessions like Virtualization in Broadcast: Virtual Machines Can Reinvent Global TV Production. Likewise, individual manufacturers are seeing virtualization technology deployed with broadcasters. It is a move that speaks to the real-world difficulties of continually updating a physical facility built around proprietary hardware.

The cloud is expected to again be of key interest, as companies such as Qligent, Quantum, and Masstech show cloud-based technologies in the cloud. The pace of change has kept the standards bodies busy, too.

There is widespread industry support for the long-awaited SMPTE ST 2110 IP standard for media transport over IP. SMPTE will co-host a two-day Future of Cinema Conference at NAB that will look at how cinema will be shaped by new technical innovations and business models. The conference will tackle issues such as cloud technology, cinema projection and displays, immersive audio, and HDR.

Other key events at the show include a Q&A session; the annual State of the Broadcast Industry address by NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith; the induction of journalist Mara Elena Salinas into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and the like.