ATSC seeks proposals for ATSC 3.0 physical layer

March 27, 2013

The ATSC  announced March 26 a call for proposals for the "physical layer" of this next-generation broadcast TV standard, dubbed ATSC 3.0, that in future has the possibility of replacing the current digital broadcasting systems used in the United States and around the world.

The physical layer is the core transmission system that is the basis for any OTA broadcast system

With members from the broadcasting, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite and semiconductor industries, ATSC is defining the future of television by developing and approving open technical standards.

The next-generation ATSC 3.0 broadcast television standard is intended to improve performance, functionality and efficiency significantly enough to warrant the challenges of a transition to a new system.

"The ATSC was formed 30 years ago to create standards for advanced television, and the successful transition to digital television broadcasting using ATSC standards is serving the public well," said ATSC president Mark Richer. "Using the ATSC Digital Television standard adopted by the FCC in 1996, broadcasters led the way in the development and introduction of digital HDTV, a revolutionary advance in picture and sound quality from analog television. With the completion of the digital transition in 2009, 108MHz of UHF spectrum is available to be auctioned by the FCC for new wireless broadband uses.

"Technology continues to advance, and we are always looking to the horizon. Internet technology now permeates the consumer experience, and mobility has become a requirement. As we look forward to next-generation television standards, we want to take advantage of advances in compression and transmission technologies that will keep millions of people informed and entertained through broadcasting's inherently efficient one-to-many architecture," said Richer, highlighting the initial work on ATSC 3.0.

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."

The ATSC 3.0 Technology Group (TG3) will develop the standards and recommended practices for the next-generation digital terrestrial TV broadcasting system.

The focus of the call for proposals is on the ATSC 3.0 physical-layer technologies to define the modulation and error coding technologies that will provide a foundation for the next terrestrial broadcast system.

Richer said a primary goal of the ATSC 3.0 physical layer is to provide TV service to both fixed and mobile devices. Multiple types of TV receivers, including fixed device, handheld devices, vehicular screens and portable receivers will be considered in the work on ATSC 3.0. Spectrum efficiency and robust service will be key areas of evaluation. Increased data rates to support new service, such as UltraHD services, will be considered.

Robustness of service for devices operating within the ATSC 3.0 service area should exceed that of current ATSC systems and that of cell phone and other wireless devices. Consideration will be given to technologies and proposals that enable a smooth transition from existing systems for both broadcasters and consumer. 

The overall ATSC 3.0 project, starting with the physical-layer proposals, will include an assessment of technical requirements, investigation of possible solutions, and development of the middle and upper layers to provide a complete technical standard for broadcast.

Wherever practical, the new ATSC 3.0 standard will use and reference existing standards that are found to be effective and successful solutions to meet the requirements.  

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