HPA Tech Retreat: The State of ATSC 2.0
INDIAN WELLS, CALIF.: The next-generation technical standard for broadcast
television will be done by the end of the year if not sooner, according to
Jerry Whitaker, vice president of standards development for the Advanced Television Systems Committee.
“Understandably there’s curiosity about the ATSC 2.0 timeline,” he said. He
said it could be completed by “maybe mid-2012; certainly by the end of the
Known as “ATSC 2.0,” the standard was reviewed at the HPA Technology Retreat
ongoing this week in Southern California. It’s often described as a marriage of
broadcast TV with the Internet.
Sam Metheny of WRAL-TV talked applications. He noted that ATSC 2.0 reflects the
direction TV consumption is already taking in the market. He cited projections
for explosive growth of TVs with Internet connectivity, expected to reach 98
million by 2014.
“People who have internet-connected TV are interested in the kind of content I
already produce,” he said. “We believe there’s an opportunity to engage the
ATSC 2.0 will provide a variety of interactive capabilities to broadcasters not
now available. For example, Metheny said, WRAL now pushes news alerts over
wireless networks to smartphones. With 2.0, it could push those alerts to TVs,
powered up or otherwise. He also described a scenario where a viewer could
watch two channels simultaneously on a single screen.
“About 60 percent of people now watch TV and use their mobile devices at the
same time,” he said. With ATSC 2.0, “you can check the weather and watch
‘Glee.’ You can do all that and stay in line with your channel instead of
Metheny also talked about in-home portable viewing; switching over to the
tablet computer to go turn the steaks on the grill. Another opportunity for
broadcasters involves second-screen advertising. He said 40 percent of
consumers used mobile devices to look for more information after seeing a TV
ad. Using ATSC 2.0, broadcasters themselves could capture that traffic.
Oren Williams of Dolby dug a little deeper into the workings of the developing
standard. He said ATSC 2.0 augments the DTV data path with new types of data,
and that the data path to the Internet resembles the ATSC data path to TV.
He listed as the building blocks of the ATSC data path connector system:
~ Internet Links
~ Signaling for Alternative Data
~ Internet Protocol Stacks
~ Access Control
~ Usage Management
~ Receiver Definitions
Williams said that modern TV receivers support the advanced graphical
processing that can now be used by ATSC 2.0, and that it would allow broadcasters
to author the user experience associated with a given service. He said the
standard would allow scripted or hyperlinked references to Internet sites and
content, and communications with broadcaster-operated servers.
This communication is achieved with “triggers” that are sent to signal the
availability of ATSC 2.0 content. The trigger points to a data object, which
defines the ATSC 2.0 content. The trigger also can signal states of a data objects
such as run, stop or pause. Automatic content recognition allows data objects
to transfer between connected devices.
The resulting environment allows a broadcaster to drive traffic to a website
while simultaneously holding the viewer’s video position, Williams said.
Dr. Rich Chernock of Triveni discussed non real-time delivery, an option within
ATSC 2.0. NRT content is delivered in
advance of use and stored for later consumption.
“It allows broadcasters to take advantage of high-bandwidth wireless delivery
of content to a variety of devices,” he said.
For example, they can deliver targeted ads based on users’ personal data
interface patterns; get into pay-per-download services; or even develop
personalized television. NRT 1.0 has passed the ATSC’s TG1 ballot, he said.
Work on NRT 2.0 is underway.
The NRT standard comprises:
~ Support for fixed and mobile broadcasting, with as much commonality as
~ Heavy use of IP mechanisms,
including IP transport layer, and File Delivery over Unidirectional
Transport--or “FLUTE”--and IETF protocol for file delivery-really meant for
one-way transmission, Chernock said.
~ Signaling and announcement…
what’s happening now, what’s happening in the future.
~ Support for future
extensibility via versioning to accommodate various consumer electronics
~ Support for
application-level Forward Error Correction.
~ Use of wrappers and
~ Essential capabilities, including a list of supported codecs and other
elements that let receivers know if it should offer a service or content based
on capabilities required.
That’s where consumer electronics manufacturer participation is critical. Three
service categories have been defined in the NRT standards work in order help
broadcasters determine what services to deliver, and CE makers what to build.
These comprise browse-and-download, push and portal services.
“You don’t want the device to download something in a codec it doesn’t handle,”