CTIA and two Los Angeles television stations, KLCS and KJLA, are announcing a channel sharing pilot program ahead of the 600 MHz broadcast incentive auction in 2015.ctia broadcast incentive auction

The goal of the program is to demonstrate how over-the-air broadcasters can consolidate spectrum and infrastructure without interrupting service. In turn, the practice will free up spectrum to be auctioned off to wireless providers.

Channel sharing means two television stations operating on a single over-the-air broadcast television channel, with their “primary and multicast content combined on a single, digital stream capable of carrying multiple high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) video services,” according to a press release.

“Channel sharing is a relatively new concept,” said CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann. As part of the voluntary program, CTIA is providing channel-sharing equipment to the stations.

Bergmann said the pilot is unique because it involves a commercial and a non-commercial station.

If the FCC approves the pilot, KLCS will host KJLA throughout the first quarter of 2014. At the conclusion of the test, CTIA and the TV stations will submit a report to the FCC on the viability of channel sharing.

“We hope that the pilot program will provide broadcasters around the country with ‘real world’ data to evaluate the opportunity to channel share in the upcoming spectrum auction,” Alan Popkin, director of TV engineering at KLCS, said in a statement.

The FCC hopes to clear 120 MHz nationwide for auction. Each TV broadcaster is given 6 MHz, Bergmann said. Part of the FCC’s plan for the broadcast incentive auction is to relocate/repack TV broadcasters to free up some of that spectrum for auction. The proceeds from the auction are intended for reimbursing broadcasters and other parties affected by the move, fund public safety network FirstNet and pay off national debt.

Viewers have expressed concern over the FCC’s plans, fearing that many free over-the-air TV broadcasts will go away following a successful auction.