quickly on last October’s ATSC 3.0 Plug Fest physical layer compatibility
testing in Shanghai, promoters of the new Candidate Standard for digital TV
broadcasting were ready to impress attendees at the Jan. 6-9 CES here with
continuous over-the-air broadcast demonstrations of its ability to handle UHD
video and other functionalities.
ONE Media, Pearl TV, Samsung, TeamCast and Sinclair Broadcast Group teamed up
to put together the demo, with 4K video being transmitted from a mountain-top low-power
transmitter located about 13 miles from the Las Vegas Convention Center and
displayed on monitors both on the show floor and in a special demo suite a few
blocks away at the Wynn Hotel.
The solid video displayed at both venues attested to the robustness of the new
modulation standard and its ability to overcome high-rise multipath challenges.
(The Wynn suite was located on the side of the hotel opposite the transmitter location
and the receiver there was fed by a small indoor consumer antenna.)
A ‘DO-ALL’ TELEVISION STANDARD
Kevin Gage, ONE Media’s executive vice president and chief technical
officer (pictured above), acted as spokesperson during the private demonstrations and was quick
to tout the many advantages offered to both consumer and broadcaster by ATSC
“In developing the new standard we wanted to avoid the ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation
associated with [ATSC] 1.0,” said Gage, describing some of the attributes of
ATSC 3.0, which include the ability to handle high dynamic range, extended
color gamut, immersive audio, targeted advertising, delivery of multiple
resolutions and video formats for reaching numerous viewing devices, and a
“bootstrap” feature that can “wake up” a consumer’s receiver to provide
critical information in emergency situations.
In commenting on this enhanced emergency alerting capability, Gage noted that
as the standard is IP-based, a broadcaster can “dynamically open up new streams
and put up all sorts of things, such as evacuation routes, weather radar
displays, storm tracks and maps.”
Gage also observed that a broadcaster could use this capability to deal with a
common situation in live sports coverage—dealing with a baseball game that that
runs into extra innings.
“In the past, the broadcaster had to decide whether to shut off the baseball
game or to delay the regular program which followed it,” Gage said. “Now the
broadcaster doesn’t have to make that choice,” demonstrating how quickly and
easily another transmission path could be enabled, allowing the viewer to
decide whether to continue following the sporting event or to go to a newscast
or other program airing before the game ended.
“RF is now just a big IP pipe,” Gage said, noting that it was just as easy to
transmit 4K video as it would be to send 100 music streams in the same “pipe.”
TELEVISION IN A HYBRID ENVIRONMENT
The Wynn demo facility also included low-power ATSC 3.0 transmitting gear
and a UHD server to allow Gage to show off another feature of the standard—the
melding of off-air and Internet-delivered video to create a “hybrid” television
system that provided the best of both worlds. With the addition of a wireless gateway
to create a home Wi-Fi “hotspot,” viewers can view programs on tablets and
other devices and easily pick and choose content. This approach to television
also allows broadcasters to offer “hyperlocal” material to enhance news and
“This hyperlocal approach also provides another opportunity to sell ads,” Gage
said as he illustrated how easily information about local stores and
dealerships could be added to commercials being aired. Such targeting could
even be done right down to a neighborhood level, with electronic discount
coupons being sent for a nearby restaurant or other business, and captured on a
smart device by the consumer. And if a viewer wanted to provide a personal
profile, special offers could be directed to him or her directly to match
Gage also noted that the flexibility offered by ATSC 3.0 could help
broadcasters bring HDR into the existing HD television receiver ecosystem, and that
it would enable broadcasters to make use of existing 1080-line content until 4K
video became the norm. To illustrate this later point, he offered a demo with
upconverted 1080 material displayed on a UHD monitor.
Also mentioned was the “service-following” capability of 3.0, which would allow
someone viewing programming on a mobile device to seamlessly move from one
market to an adjacent one without any discontinuity in reception.
“ATSC 3.0 provides really good indoor reception, really good mobile reception,
and it has the ability to provide service that follows consumers from DMA to
DMA,” Gage said, noting that it was ATSC 3.0’s adaptability to single frequency
transmission architecture that made such service-following easy to implement.
In addition to Samsung’s exhibit hall display of off-air UHD from the temporary
Black Mountain transmitter, LG also was showing the over-the-air 4K demo
content received at the convention center from its own transmissions. (See “KHMP-LD Delivers Live HDR 4KTV in ATSC 3.0 at CES.”
Sinclair helped arrange the off-air signal for the demo, according to the
company’s vice president of engineering, Harvey Arnold. The signal was provided
by a 5 kW Rohde & Schwarz solid-state transmitter equipped with 3.0-enabled
TeamCast Vortex exciter operating with an FCC-granted Special Temporary Authority
from atop Black Mountain, a popular Las Vegas TV/FM transmission platform
located south of the city.
Arnold said that the transmitter fed a Dielectric panel antenna to provide an EIRP (equivalent isotropically
radiated power0 of about 20 kW, and was being operated under an FCC special
temporary authorization on Ch. 45. He noted that the bit rate being used for
the UHD video transmission was 25 mbps.
“The commission took only two days to issue the STA for the demo transmitter,”
Arnold said. “I think they’re really wanting to see ATSC 3.0 succeed.”
November 17, 2015
“ATSC 3.0 DTV Standard Gets Far East ‘Test Drive
History was made here last month as a multinational group of television engineers gathered to perform systems compatibility testing of the ATSC 3.0 digital TV standard. The event, officially dubbed “Plug Fest 2015,” was hosted by China’s National Engineering Research Center of Digital Television, Oct. 19-23.