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ATSC Seeks Proposals for 3.0 Physical Layer

WASHINGTON -- The Advanced Television Systems Committee has announced a call for proposals for the “physical layer” of its next broadcast TV standard, intended to replace 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 over-the-air broadcast system.

The next-generation ATSC 3.0 broadcast television standard must provide improvements in performance, functionality and efficiency that are significant enough to warrant the challenges of a transition to a new 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.

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.”

While work is already underway to enhance the existing ATSC TV system with Internet compatibility and caching capability for storing programs (a backward-compatible suite of enhancements dubbed the “ATSC 2.0” standard), the future needs of viewers and broadcasters will be the focus of the “ATSC 3.0” initiative. The ATSC 3.0 Technology Group (TG3) will develop the Standards and Recommended Practices for the next-generation digital terrestrial TV broadcasting system.

ATSC President Mark 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 devices (such as traditional living room and bedroom TV sets), 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 services such as Ultra-HD 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.

“ATSC 3.0 is expected to provide robust mobile services to devices that move, such as phones, tablets, laptops and personal televisions. Since these devices are likely to move across borders, it’s highly desirable that the specification contains core technologies that will have broad international acceptance and enable global interoperability,” Richer explained.

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.

Initial responses to the call for proposals are due on Aug. 23, 2013. Detailed technical descriptions of proposals are due on Sept. 27, 2013. Details on the ATSC 3.0 Call for Proposals can be found on the website.