Advanced Television Systems Committee achieved a significant milestone last
week with the elevation of the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer to Candidate Standard
status. TV Technology
President Mark Richer to provide more details on the technology and the process
of developing this latest transmission standard for over-the-air broadcast
television in the United States.
TV Technology: Ten
proposals from 19 organizations were submitted in the physical layer call for
TV Technology: Which one represents the physical layer, or is it a combination of submitted technologies?
Coherent Logix and Sinclair Broadcast Group
Communications Research Centre and Electronics & Telecommunications
Digital Video Broadcasting Project
LG Electronics, Zenith and Harris Broadcast
National Engineering Research Center of Digital Television, Shanghai Jiao Tong
University, Shanghai Advance Research Institute, and Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent
Qualcomm and Ericsson
Samsung and Sony
The development of the physical
layer is a process that involved many volunteers and many companies working in
a collaborative fashion to come up with the best possible solution: A transmission system that is both very
robust and flexible to meet the demands of broadcasters for next-generation
TV Technology received
separate statements from LG and ONE Media about their own and their partner
companies’ technology used in the standard. Does ATSC have to abide by a policy
of not identifying companies contributing to the standard?
ATSC does not have a formal policy concerning identification of
contributors to our standards. In situations such as the development of the
ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer, there were many contributors. Participants in our
meetings are required to abide by our Patent
, which is available on the ATSC Website
Technology: Describe what this
technology does and how it works.
Our overall goal
with ATSC 3.0 is to make it highly configurable, scalable, efficient, interoperable,
Drafted by the S-32 Physical Layer specialists group capably chaired
by Sony’s Luke Fay, the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer is intended to offer far more
flexibility, robustness and spectrum efficiency than the ATSC 1.0 standard, which
was adopted two decades ago.
The ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer uses OFDM modulation with low-density
parity check (LDPC) forward-error correction similar to other advanced
terrestrial broadcast standards. ATSC 3.0 also uses new more robust LDPC along
with non-uniform constellations to provide improved transmission and reception
Technology: We’ve already heard
several times about flexibility and robustness. But why and how so, and what is
it about the technologies that assures this?
The ATSC 3.0 physical layer allows
television broadcasters to choose from a wide variety of transmission
parameters so that each station can tailor its signal to best serve its local
market by providing the combination of services and coverage area best suited
for the market and its terrain.
TV Technology: What do
you mean by “transmission parameters” here?
These flexible parameters include options
for coding rates, modulation types, guard intervals, and time interleavers.
As an example, the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer provides the ability for broadcasters
to provide services in a robust mode for mobile services and a less robust but higher
bitrate services to serve content to large screens in the home. Broadcasters can configure their transmission
to provide simultaneous mixture of types of services using either Time Division
Multiplexing or Layer Division Multiplexing, or both.
In other words, it’s not “one size fits all.” Broadcasters can change
parameters to send different types of content to different types of receivers
throughout the day— including simultaneous transmission of content for both big
screens and handheld mobile devices of the future.
The system will allow high-capacity, low-robustness modes and also
lower-capacity, high-robustness modes in the same transmission. That
flexibility means that we’re likely to see both 4K Ultra HD broadcasts running
side-by-side with robust mobile broadcasts to handheld devices.
TV Technology: OK, that’s
fairly straightforward, but
this achieved? Adaptive bit-rate capability? Compression? Also, what types of
compression will it support?
The physical layer delivers bits of any type. Video and audio compression
are defined by the presentation layer of ATSC 3.0. See graphic:
Technologies can be selected for various “use cases” like Single Frequency
Networks, Multiple Input/Multiple Output channel operation, channel-bonding and
more, well beyond a single transmitting tower.
Technology: So? What’s the big
deal about that?
These technologies provide network architectures that can be used to
improve coverage for services such as mobile. There is also a large range of
selections for data protection including a wide range of guard intervals,
forward-error correction code lengths and code rates.
Technology: Again, what for? Why
is this notable?
Broadcasters can use these parameters to optimize the balance of performance
and throughput for each service. Work continues on the other parts of the suite
of ATSC 3.0 standards. They include Video and Audio Compression, Closed
Captioning, Advanced Emergency Alerting, Security, Companion Devices,
Personalization, Applications & Interactivity, Watermarking and
Fingerprinting, and Internet Protocol Delivery. All told, some 20 standards are
expected to be part of ATSC 3.0
Technology: What is meant here by “companion devices,”
and in what way does this standard envision accommodating these devices?
Companion devices include “second screen” such as a tablet or phone.
ATSC 3.0 will enable hybrid broadcast and broadband applications.
Technology: Noted. What can we
expect with regard to video and audio compression? HEVC? Multiple codecs?
Video and audio compression systems are
under consideration. Stay tuned!
TV Technology: The “bootstrap signal” component of this
technology was elevated to Candidate Standard in May. Is it now a part of this
No, it’s a separate document and that part of the physical layer
was elevated to Candidate Standard earlier.
Technology: There were five total
components to the physical layer—system discovery and signaling (bootstrap);
modulation; error correction algorithms and constellations
To put the entire
standard-setting process into context, this piece
Rich Chernock, who chairs the ATSC’s Technology Group 3, is a good description
of what the final standard will look like.
Technology: Is the modulation
scheme based on orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing?
Yes, the physical layer uses
Technology: Does it bear a resemblance to DVB-T2?
There are some elements that
are similar to DVB-T2, but also some new ingredients.
Technology: Elements such as… ?
OFDM, some coding rates,
modulation types, and guard interval parameters are common with DVB-T2.
TV Technology: Are you on schedule with your timetable?
Yes, we are on
schedule. The Candidate Standard status
for the physical layer will continue for six months, during which time
manufacturers will build prototype equipment and test to the proposed standard.
Final tweaks will be made, and then the physical layer will face a ballot to recognize
the technologies as part of the finished ATSC 3.0 Standard.
Technology: When do you expect
the standard to be complete? What is the timetable for approval?
In the first quarter of 2017.
Technology: When does the Federal
Communications Commission get involved?
While the standards-setting
process continues at the ATSC, the FCC will presumably be asked by broadcasters
to review the outcome of ATSC 3.0 at some point.
Technology: ATSC 3.0
will not be compatible with any existing television receivers, and TV stations
do not have extra spectrum this time to make the switch as they did in the 2009
digital transition. In other words, they would all have to flash cut to the new
standard. What is the vision and
developing strategic plan for receiver deployment?
ATSC is not directly involved in receiver development plans. Some broadcasters are working with consumer
electronics companies to plan a 3.0 strategy.
Technology: What is the vision and developing strategic
plan for deployment of the ATSC 3.0 transmission scheme itself?
I believe ATSC 3.0 will provide
broadcasters with compelling business opportunities that will drive the
implementation of new services.
September 29, 2015
3.0 Physical Layer Elevated to Candidate Standard
The ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer is intended to offer far more
flexibility, robustness and spectrum efficiency than the ATSC 1.0 standard,
which was adopted two decades ago.
September 21, 2015
“ATSC 3.0 Tested With 4K, Mobile in Korea by LG, SBS
Korean broadcaster SBS partnered with LG Electronics for the country's first
live over-the-air broadcast of 4K Ultra HD signals using technologies behind
the ATSC 3.0 TV broadcast standard.
September 2, 2015
on ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer Standard Begins
Ballots were sent out on Aug. 31 and over the next four weeks members of the
TG3 Technology Group will vote on whether to approve or not approve the
Physical Layer to Candidate Standard status.
May 15, 2015
and ONE Media Drive ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standard
Samsung and ONE Media proposed a hierarchical framework comprised of the
‘bootstrap,’ preamble and data framing to meet broadcasters unique
May 7, 2015
3.0 Bootstrap Signal Becomes Candidate Standard
The first of five components in the Physical Layer transmission standard for
ATSC 3.0 has been elevated to “Candidate Standard” status.
August 27, 2013
Tomorrow: ATSC 3.0 Advances
The ATSC announced that 10 proposals have been submitted for the foundation of
3.0 known as the “physical layer.” This physical layer includes the modulation
scheme, which defines how the signal information is carried by a radio
frequency—in this case, the TV channel.
March 28, 2013
Seeks Next-Gen TV Physical Layer Proposals
It appears some of the requirements could be a bit of a stretch, but that may
not be such a bad idea, considering that ATSC 3.0 will be replacing a
terrestrial DTV standard that’s survived for 15 years.
March 27, 2013
“ATSC Seeks Proposals for ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer”
Glenn Reitmeier, ATSC chairman, noted that, “the ATSC 3.0 effort is a crucial
time for broadcasters, professional equipment manufacturers, consumer device
manufacturers and all stakeholders to collaborate and create the future
capabilities of over-the-air broadcasting.”
February 22, 2013
2013: ATSC 3.0 Update
The current standard was developed 20 years ago and implemented around 15 years
ago. The Internet was on baby legs, processor speeds were measured in
megahertz, storage in megabytes, and networks in kilobytes.
January 22, 2013
ATSC Implementation Teams to Focus on Commercialization of ATSC 2.0 and M-EAS
The Advanced Television Systems Committee has formed new Implementation Teams
for two new emerging standards -- ATSC 2.0 and the Mobile Emergency Alert
February 15, 2012,
Tech Retreat: The State of ATSC 2.0
ATSC 2.0 will provide a variety of interactive capabilities to broadcasters not
September 6, 2011
ATSC 3.0 Technology Group Formed To Anticipate TV of the Future
ATSC 3.0 is anticipated to be a series of voluntary technical standards and
recommended practices for the next digital terrestrial television broadcast