—How do we get there from here?
That’s the main question around the emerging transmission technology standard
for over-the-air television in the United States. The last time the TV standard
was changed, TV stations had two channels—one on which to broadcast in the old
analog format while they fired up digital transmitters on the second. This gave
the broadcasters time to work out the bugs, and it gave citizen viewers a
chance to get caught up to speed on what was going on.
There are no second channels this time.
The Advanced Television Systems Committee, the organization developing the standard,
is leaning into the development of two-way technology that would be compatible
with the Internet and fundamentally change the way U.S. broadcast TV is
The new standard—ATSC 3.0—is on a fast track of sorts as the Federal
Communications Commission prepares to auction off a portion of the radio
frequency spectrum now dedicated to broadcasting. ATSC 3.0 is inherently more
spectrum efficient than 1.0, the version currently in use, and could not only
preserve, but enhance coverage of over-the-air television.
The question remains, however. How will it be implemented this time around? TV
’s Deborah D. McAdams fired off a few questions about a 3.0
transition to Fox’s Richard Friedel, who was recently elected
as ATSC board chairman
for 2016. Friedel, an industry veteran who is
executive vice president and general manager of the Fox Network &
Engineering Operations, was joined by ATSC President Mark Richer in the
The bottom line: broadcasters must cooperate.
Has a transition
plan been mapped out?
the ATSC board has discussed some concepts for transition to ATSC 3.0,
it’s up to the industry to develop an overall strategy. ATSC 3.0 is a global
standard and transition plans will differ from country to country.
Is it likely to be a market-by-market
process? If so, how would that work?
nature, broadcasting is local. The transition to ATSC 3.0 will
require strategies that take into account such things as spectrum availability,
transmission facilities, capacity of existing 1.0 services and potential 3.0
services. As such, it’s unlikely that all U.S. broadcasters will transition to
ATSC 3.0 at the same moment.
require nationwide adoption?
appropriate time, and likely at the request of broadcasters, we expect the FCC
to consider ATSC 3.0 as a permissible service on TV channels. The actual
rollout, however, is likely not something that will happen coast-to-coast at
broadcasters be able to fire up 3.0 while maintaining 1.0 for existing viewers?
discussions are necessary to determine the best way to transition from 1.0 to
3.0, without disrupting service for all viewers in a given market. Detailed
logistics will be up to broadcasters to determine.
reception be implemented in the absence of a subsidized converter program?
receivers are far more advanced now than they were back in the late 1990’s. One
answer might be USB-style receivers that could plug into a TV and an RF
antenna. We also are starting to see new options emerge as prototypes, such as
‘gateway’ receivers that could receive ATSC 3.0 and retransmit the signals as
Wi-Fi to be presented on existing tablets, phone, and TV sets in a house. I
have no doubt that we’ll see more innovations at the upcoming NAB Show in
equipment will be necessary for transmitting 3.0?
: That depends on
the type of ATSC 3.0 services that a broadcaster wants to offer, and how
exactly that broadcaster will transition to 3.0. Certainly, new exciters will
be needed at the transmission level. We do expect to see more details at the
April NAB Show from a variety of broadcast equipment companies who are
designing new products for broadcasters.
Have any vendors committed to manufacturing 3.0
equipment, and if so, how long after the standard is completed will it take
them to make it available?
manufacturers do not discuss their strategies in ATSC. It looks like
several new products are in development, with public and private demonstrations
that are based on the ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standard.
(Note in the “Also see…” 3.0 archive below,
Teamcast provided an ATSC 3.0 exciter to the Korean Broadcasting System to
evaluate the developing transmission standard.
Note also that Fred Baumgartner has contributed
a three-part series on how ATSC 3.0-based broadcasting is crucial to video
distribution in an ecosystem of proliferating device types and content
January 4, 2016
“Part I: April SBE Ennes Workshop to Focus on ATSC
The relationship between broadcasting and
technology is a deep one that defines us as broadcast engineers.
January 12, 2016
“Part II: ATSC 3.0 Brings Flexibility of IP to
The hardest part of the ATSC 3.0 proposed
broadcast standard to get one’s head around is probably the IP transport piece.
January 28, 2016
“PART III: Where Does ATSC 3.0 Fit in a
Two stakeholders that might not be so excited
about ATSC 3.0 include the radio access network (RAN) carriers (the providers
of wireless data services) and multichannel video programming distributors.
January 13, 2016
O’Neal Reports on ATSC 3.0 Tests At CES 2016”
ONE Media, Pearl TV, Samsung,
TeamCast and Sinclair Broadcast Group teamed up to transmit 4K video from a
mountain-top low-power transmitter 13 miles from the Las Vegas Convention
Center, and displayed on the show floor and in a demo suite in the Wynn
January 13, 2016
Lung on ATSC 3.0, Two-Way ENG and New Mic RFs”
I thought it would be a good time to take a look at new technology trends.
Three areas that attracted my attention are ATSC 3.0 (no surprise), two-way ENG
and new technology for wireless microphones.
Janaury 6, 2016
Delivers Live HDR 4KTV in ATSC 3.0 at CES”
The broadcast, from Las Vegas station KHMP-LD’s transmitter on Nevada’s
Black Mountain, is delivering clear 4K HDR content, received for the first time
on LG’s new ATSC 3.0-enabled receivers at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
January 5, 2016
Delivers ATSC 3.0 Digital TV Exciter to KBS”
The exTra3.0 is a real-time,
standalone terrestrial exciter that supports ATSC 3.0, which is designed to
transmit 4K/UHD content.
December 23, 2015
ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer—Bootstrap Basics
Doug Lung parses the 3.0 physical layer.
December 23, 2015
Technicolor’s Alan Stein on Las Vegas ATSC 3.0 Tests
Technicolor contributed content and prototype reception technology to the
simulations, which took place last month in Las Vegas with Sinclair Broadcast
Group and ONE Media.
December 15, 2015
3.0 Audio: A Big Bet?
The debate centers on the two remaining candidates under consideration for the
audio codec, AC-4, proposed by Dolby Laboratories, and MPEG-H, supported by the
MPEG Audio Alliance.
December 3, 2015
Demos HDR 4KTV Over ATSC 3.0 in Vegas
Sinclair Broadcast Group, along with subsidiary One Media and Technicolor,
report they have successfully transmitted high-dynamic range 4KTV over the air
using the proposed ATSC 3.0 standard and a prototype reception device.
November 17, 2015
3.0 DTV Standard Gets Far East ‘Test Drive’”
The engineers were convened “to confirm a common understanding of the ATSC
3.0 specifications A/321, A/322 and other relevant standards, and/or working
October 7, 2015
3.0: Mark Richer Details Phys Layer CS
The ATSC achieved a significant milestone last week with the elevation of the
ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer to Candidate Standard status. TV Technology asked ATSC
President Mark Richer to provide more details on the technology and the
September 29, 2015
LG, Contributed Technology to ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standard”
Both Korean electronics giants have been integral in developing the U.S.
September 21, 2015
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.
July 13, 2015
the Cleveland Futurecast ATSC 3.0 Transmission Tests
And with an experimental high-power ATSC 3.0 transmitter available for test
broadcasts at any time during the day, the GatesAir/LG/Zenith Futurecast
proposal shows some interesting data from recent tests in Cleveland.
June 17, 2015
Pearl and Sinclair Gear Up for ATSC 3.0 Dry Runs
Samsung, Pearl TV and Sinclair Broadcast Group are collaborating on how to
deploy the next-generation broadcast standard and what to do with it. The three
have agreed to a Memo of Understanding “collaboratively to support the
development and the implementation” of ATSC 3.0.
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.
April 9, 2015
and Sinclair Demo HDR UHD Live Over-the-Air Broadcast
Technicolor and Sinclair Broadcast Group have announced a successful
demonstration of UltraHD with high dynamic range live broadcast based on
proposed ATSC 3.0 technologies.
February 12, 2015
2015: ATSC 3.0 Prototypes Expected in 2016
Prototype ATSC 3.0 receivers may appear as early as next year, according to
Skip Pizzi of the National Association of Broadcasters.
“The target is to get a candidate standard out later this year. Prototypes
might start showing up in 2016.”
January 5, 2015
2015: Samsung, Comark and TeamCast Demo Live ATSC 3.0
Samsung, Comark and TeamCast will demonstrate a terrestrial
broadcast of “full ATSC 3.0 technology” at CES 2015. The demonstration will
show a live transmission of MPEG‐H HEVC ultra HD
video and MPEG‐H 3D audio content.
October 22, 2014
Demo Shows Simultaneous 4K, HD and Mobile Reception
Quincy Group’s WKOW-TV conducted a second round of field
testing with the Futurecast terrestrial broadcasting system developed by
Zenith, LG and GatesAir.
October 8, 2014
and Technicolor Do ATSC 3.0 4K Over-the-Air Broadcast
Broadcast Group and Technicolor said they successfully deploying Technicolor’s
ATSC 3.0 4K UltraHD testbed platform and receiving an over-the-air signal. The
Technicolor platform, based on open audio, video and transport standards
including Scalable HEVC (SHVC), MPEG-H audio and MPEG-MMT transport, has been
integrated into Sinclair’s experimental OFDM transmission system in Baltimore,
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
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