goal is in sight!” might well sum up the feelings of standards group
members and others who convened at the Ronald Reagan Building and International
Trade Center to review and celebrate their work during the ATSC’s May
16-17 “Next Gen TV” conference.
Madeleine Noland, chair and vice
chair of several ATSC 3.0 standards groups, perhaps best captured the spirit by
proclaiming in her first-day welcoming address that“the
standard is neigh-on finished.”
ATSC 3.0 “Skyscraper” model depicts the amount of progress
made in developing the new standard.
on the Image to Enlarge
Richard Chernock, chair of the
standard’s TG3 technology group, on day two of the conference further
reinforced the fact that the standard is nearing completion with a special
“Finishing the ATSC 3.0 Skyscraper: General Contractor’s
Report,” in which he described the project in terms of the
construction of a 23-story high-rise structure, with each building level
corresponding to one module of the standard. As illustrated in the drawing
Chernock used in his presentation, 15 of the standard’s elements are
now considered “finalized.” Three others have been elevated
to the “proposed standards” level, and four have achieved
“candidate” status, leaving only a single
component—the A/323 Physical Layer Uplink/Downlink—in
(As it stands now, the standard is
sufficiently complete to allow Korean broadcasters to launch ATSC 3.0 service
at the end of May.)
TELEVISION’S NEW FUTURE
A common theme at the conference centered around
the rising consumption of video content on small screen mobile devices. Brian
Markwalter, senior vice president, research and standards for the Consumer
Technology Association, reported that studies commissioned by his organization
showed a significant increase during the past year in ownership of viewing
devices other than conventional television sets by U.S. households. Another
study flagged a significant rise between 2012 and 2016 in the viewing of video
content on such devices as smart phones, laptops and tablets, while also
showing a falloff in the viewing of content on conventional television
receivers during the same period. In another presentation (“Checklist
for ATSC 3.0 Implementation”), GatesAir’s Rich Redmond
stressed the importance of transmitting a vertical signal component in order to
reach mobile devices.
Mark Aitken, vice president of
advanced technology for Sinclair Broadcast Group, also acknowledged the growing
use of handheld devices for consuming video, stating that his company believes
this is where television’s future lies.
Aitken (Photo Credit: ATSC)
“We see ATSC 3.0 as a
bridge to what we have consistently pointed to as a ‘mobile
first’ opportunity for broadcasting,” he said.
“It’s the mobile side [of the standard] that we see the
most potential in, and it’s the mobile side that we are going to
“We look at mobile and
think of ourselves as being the new mobile wireless carriers. Mobile, we
believe, will become the economic enabler for massive investment in television.
We’re underscoring dozens of reasons that we see mobile as the true
opportunity. Our vision of a ‘mobile first’ future is in
taking advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity with a repack and major
recapitalization in the industry to move in this direction.”
Aitken observed, however, that a
problem now exists in obtaining satisfactory ATSC 3.0 receiver performance in
mobile environments, as the integrated circuits being used in these receivers
were really designed for fixed receiver applications.
than 200 persons packed the Ronald Regan
Pavilion room for the 2017 ASTSC annual meeting.
“This is the reason that
Sinclair is investing millions of dollars into the development of its own ATSC
chip set,” said Aitken. “And that chip set is being built
and designed fundamentally from the ground up as a ‘mobile
first’ chip set.”
In response to a question from the
audience, Aitken stated that to get the ball rolling on the mobile 3.0 front,
Sinclair was willing to supply the chips being developed for this purpose to
manufacturers who would agree to use them in their mobile products.
“We will put millions of
chips into the hands of suitable device manufacturers free of cost,”
THE TRANSITION TO
While the main focus of the conference was the
ATSC 3.0 standard itself, the program also included discussions and
presentations addressing the movement from SDI-based television plant
infrastructures to all-IP environments. The conference also discussed
methodologies broadcasters might employ in rolling out high dynamic range and
expanded color gamut technologies, production of content for such HDR and ECG
Attendees also focused on the
FCC’s stance on advanced television implementation, the value of
low-power television operations in connection with the 3.0 transition, an
update on the joint NAB/CTA Cleveland, Ohio field testing facility,
single-frequency networks, virtual reality, 5G’s potential and the
U.S. television broadcast spectrum repack.
The ATSC annual meeting wrapped up with the
presentation of the organization’s Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding
Contributor Award, which this year went to the NAB’s Skip Pizzi, who
chairs the ATSC 3.0 System Requirement and Program Management Specialist Group.
Pizzi (center), winner of this year’s Bernard
Lecher Outstanding Achievement Award, poses with the ATSC’s board
(L) and its president, Mark Richer (R).
“Skip Pizzi is an
outstanding leader with remarkable technical and management skills,”
said ATSC president Mark Richer in presenting the award. “His
enthusiasm and commitment has helped to facilitate the rapid development of the
next-generation broadcast television standard.”
The 2017 ATSC Next Gen TV conference
attracted more than 200 attendees from nine countries including India and
For more on this subject, visit ourATSC 3.0 silo.