BitPath: NextGen TV Reaches 62% of Continental U.S. Population

(Image credit: ATSC)

A new webinar series covering the opportunities for NextGen TV broadcasters in the auto market, launched on October 27 with panelists of the first session offering some breaking news on the rollout of NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 broadcasts as well as updates on major developments in standards for 5G/ATSC 3.0 interoperability and highlights of recent tests using ATSC to deliver content and data to automobiles and the consumer market. 

Panelists also provided updates on recent advances in using ATSC 3.0 technologies in India and discussed some of the most promising NextGen TV services that are likely to get early launches. 

John Hane, president and CEO of BitPath noted that about 62% of the population of the continental U.S. is currently able to receive ATSC 3.0 broadcasts and that broadcasters were planning to launch NextGen services on Monday Oct. 31 in Hawaii. 

“Some of the top ten markets are not covered,” Hane admitted. “Those markets are complicated for many different types of reasons. So they take longer, but I think you should start to see in the next quarter or so a lot of these top ten markets that are not already [broadcasting] added [and] we'll see the population percentage bump up pretty significantly.”

Hane also stressed that once Boston and Philadelphia were added there will be great coverage on the eastern seaboard along the busiest arteries down into the Carolinas and that they will be filling in the gaps in the I-95 corridor into Florida and I-85 into Alabama over the next six months. 

Dan Teeter, advisory director at AutoMobility Advisors noted that broadcasters were rolling out the revolutionary new broadcast standard at a time when automakers are entering into an unprecedented period of innovation and change as automakers work to create vehicles that were essentially “rolling computers” or, as those in the industry say, “software defined vehicles.”

“The rate of that innovation in automotive is higher than it's ever been,” Teeter said. “And it continues to increase as auto manufacturers design vehicles basically to be computers on wheels. That's really at the heart of what a software defined vehicle is.”

That is making connectivity extremely important, both for software updates and diagnostics for the autos and as a vehicle for delivering new services to consumers. “Connectivity is sort of the basis for all of this innovation,” Teeter said. 

This provides an opening for broadcasters and other companies to work with automakers to provide the connectivity needed for a host of services. Those include connectivity for software updates, more accurate GPS, autonomous or driver assisted vehicles, entertainment content and targeted advertising. 

During the webinar, Dr. Stanley Park, the CTO of CAST.ERA, a joint venture between SK Telecom and Sinclair, provided an update on a number of significant advances that had been made using ATSC 3.0 broadcasts, 5G Networks and connected vehicles. 

Park noted that because ATSC 3.0 was IP-based, it was compatible with mobile networks, making it possible for them to use NextGen TV and 5G networks in Korean to successfully deliver entertainment and targeted advertising to vehicles outfitted with antennas, receivers and displays to show the signals. 

“We have shown we can support 5G or convergence between the ATSC 3.0 and the mobile network,” Park said. 

In one notable test, they had a car travel over a loop through five different areas. The system successfully delivered 3.0 broadcast signals to the car and then very importantly, delivered targeted advertising to different displays in the car that offered, for example, ads for restaurants that were in the area closest to the car. 

“Based on those experiences…we can see the potential…to enhance the media experience in the vehicle,” Park said. 

Sesh Simha, vice president of advanced technology at ONE Media 3.0 outlined some work by standards bodies that will further simplify the use of both 5G and ATSC 3.0 in connected vehicles and other applications. 

“Standards are very important to ensure interworking consistency” between 3.0 and 5G and to “make sure that service providers can connect in a seamless manner” to NextGen TV services, Simha noted. 

One important development in what he calls “interworking” was a recent decision by 3GPP. “The global standards organization 3GPP has actually approved standardization work being done to enable this interworking,” with support from major 5G players, he said. This work is scheduled for completion in 2024 (updated)

“Once that's done, then all of a sudden you find it's easy to connect and develop customized interfaces and customized capabilities,” using both ATSC 3.0 and 5G, he said. 

Simha also highlighted a number of new developments in India, where ATSC 3.0 is gaining traction.

He said Sinclair’s One Media 3.0 had partnered with an Indian company Saankhya Labs, that developed software defined radios and silicon chips, to develop some 3.0 services for mobile. 

“We are in the process of doing media trials in Delhi…and we're going to be installing a number of associated small low power transmitters so that in the government part of Delhi, which is where the Prime Minister works, we will be providing indoor coverage of this technology,” he said. 

They have also developed “the world's first smartphone with embedded ATSC 3.0” radio on a chip,” Simha said. 

“This is important because this….is a country with a billion mobile subscribers,” he said. 

He also noted that they are tapping into the tech talent in Bangalore, which has emerged along with Silicon Valley as one of the major tech and innovation centers in the world. 

Additional webinars will occur on November 10, and December 1.  

Registration for the webinar series is available here.     

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.