Origins of FASTROAD

The genesis for creating a formal technology advocacy program at NAB originated in a memo from Joint Board Chairman Bruce Reese and Radio Board Chairman David Field, which was first discussed at a NAB Executive Committee meeting held in June 2005. The Reese/Field memo stated that one of broadcasting’s needs not being met on a coordinated basis is the investigation and analysis of new technologies and their utility in helping broadcasters maintain and grow relationships with local audiences. They proposed that NAB staff consider how the NAB might be involved in addressing this need and tasked Senior Vice President of Science and Technology Lynn Claudy to consider possible strategies and approaches and provide input back to the Executive Committee.

In August 2005, a report was delivered to the Executive Committee, including a review of past NAB technology initiatives and how they were administered, a historical analysis of the successes and failures associated with those initiatives, an overview of staff core competencies and recommendations and alternatives for future activities in technology areas by NAB. One of the recommendations was to establish a high level NAB Technology Committee, suggesting that executive level membership and participation in such a committee would aid in guiding NAB’s technical activities on behalf of its members. A Technology Advocacy Task Force was subsequently formed with interested Board members and the first meeting of the group was held in March 2006. At that meeting, the continued need for such a group was affirmed and the Task Force was renamed the Technology Advocacy Committee as a standing NAB committee to define and direct NAB’s role in technology advocacy. Co-chaired by Ed Munson of LIN TV and Susan Davenport Austin from Sheridan Broadcasting, the Committee subsequently met in June and November 2006 and January 2007, exploring the concept of how to best implement technology advocacy at NAB.

As a result of the Technology Advocacy Committee work, the NAB Joint Board of Directors voted unanimously in January 2007 to establish a formal NAB technology advocacy program, with a multi-million dollar funding level over several years. Following approval of an administrative organizational structure in March 2007 by the NAB Executive Committee, and agreement on a name for the program by the Technology Advocacy Committee, a press release was issued on April 9, 2007.

The overall mission of the program was to seek and facilitate development and commercialization of new technologies that can be exploited by broadcasters using radio and television broadcast spectrum. The multi-year, multi-million dollar program was named NAB FASTROAD (Flexible Advanced Services for Television and Radio On All Devices).

NAB FASTROAD was managed overall by a steering committee consisting of NAB executive staff, Board members and other representatives from NAB broadcast member organizations. Project selection and implementation was handled by a technical committee of selected NAB member company engineers and staff from the NAB Science and Technology Department. Participation by National Public Radio Laboratories (NPR Labs) and the Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) was also established to coordinate with other ongoing technical programs in the radio and television broadcasting sectors. The program principally concentrated on technologies and services related to over-the-air digital transmission.

The seminal work of NAB FASTROAD served as a foundation for part of the NAB Labs initiative, which continues to facilitate development of new technologies advantageous to radio and television broadcasting.