In 1987, the FCC issued a ruling indicating that the HDTV standards to be issued would be compatible with existing NTSC service, and would be confined to the existing VHF and UHF frequency bands.
By the end of 1988, the FCC had received 23 different proposals for HDTV or EDTV standards. These were all analog (or mixed analog/digital systems like MUSE) and explored a variety of different options for resolution, interlace and bandwidth.
In 1990, the FCC announced that HDTV would be simultaneously broadcast (rather than augmented) and that its preference would be for a full HDTV standard (rather than the reduced resolution EDTV).
On May 31, 1990 General Instrument Corp. submitted the first proposal for an all digital HDTV system. By December 1990, ATRC announced its digital entry, followed quickly by Zenith and AT&T, then MIT. Thus there were four serious contenders for digital HDTV, as well as a modified "narrow" MUSE and an EDTV proposal. During the following year, these systems were tested.
In February 1993, the FCC made the key decision for an all digital technology - but could not decide among the four contenders. Therefore, after some fuss, a recommendation was made to form a "Grand Alliance" composed of AT&T, GI, MIT, Philips, Sarnoff, Thomson and Zenith. This Grand Alliance would take the best features of the four systems and develop them into an HDTV standard. Most of the remainder of 1993 was devoted to establishing the features of this new standard.
During 1994, the system was constructed and 1995 is slated for testing. If all goes well, the FCC may be setting this standard by the end of 1995.