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Q&A: Mark Richer on ATSC 3.0 Progress

WASHINGTON—The Advanced Television Systems Committee has elevated a component of its developing TV broadcast transmission standard—ATSC 3.0—to candidate status. The “bootstrap” signal portion of the Physical Layer for ATSC 3.0 was approved. ATSC President Mark Richer described it as “a low-level signal that tells a receiver to decode and process wireless services multiplexed in a broadcast channel.” (see “ATSC 3.0 Bootstrap Signal Becomes Candidate Standard.”)Richer provided more detail about how the standard is progressing and what remains to be done.

TV Technology: What remains to be completed in the standard? E.g., how many components, and of what function are they?
Mark Richer: [Thursday’s] announcement is about System Discovery and Signaling, the first of five sections that will comprise the final standard. There are four remaining major layers to the system as can be seen in the first image. Each of these layers may be divided into logical documents. As an example, the presentation letter may be made up of separate documents for the video and audio subsystems.

TV Technology: Is this the most basic framework of the standard, upon which the other components are constructed?
Mark Richer: I think of it more like a map or GPS that tells you what to expect ahead.

TV Technology: How complicated was the process of inventing this technology? What was the final piece of it that came together that allowed it to reach Candidate Standard? 
Mark Richer: All of the work on 3.0 is technically complex. As is often the case in standards development, it’s a balancing act between flexibility and complexity.

TV Technology: Remind us what happens now? How many more voting rounds are necessary for this to be part of the official ATSC 3.0 Standard?
Mark Richer: After the Candidate Standard stage, the Technology Group must approve elevation of the document to Proposed Standard. If approved, the Proposed Standard is balloted to the ATSC Membership for approval as a Standard.

TV Technology: Is it accurate to say that this benchmark makes the realization of a final standard in time for the Spectrum Incentive Auction more realistic?
Mark Richer: Our development efforts are not tied to the incentive auction but in my opinion yes.