ATSC 3.0: The Time to Deploy Is Now

LEAWOOD, KAN.—The biggest takeaway from the annual ATSC meeting in Washington, D.C., May 23-24, was quite simple: Get on with it; there is no time to waste.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, John Hane, president of Spectrum Co., and Richard Friedel, ATSC Board Chairman and executive vice president and GM of Fox Networks Engineering and Operations, each said it in his own way, but the message was the same.

The standard is done; the government has authorized broadcasters to use it; and there is no time like the present to deploy.

The annual ATSC meeting last month provided an opportunity for the industry to assess progress in the rollout of the ATSC 3.0 standard.

The annual ATSC meeting last month provided an opportunity for the industry to assess progress in the rollout of the ATSC 3.0 standard.

But why rush? Isn’t it prudent to see what the handful of Next Gen TV trials, tests and full-on deployments reveal?

How is it possible to consider deploying ATSC 3.0 now when there aren’t Next Gen TVs in the market? Maybe you think, “How can I even contemplate channel-sharing with the station down the street? We’ve been competing for decades.”

If you’ve been doing this long enough, it’s even possible that that well-worn mantra from the early days of HDTV comes to mind when thinking about an ATSC 3.0 rollout: “We won’t make a dime more off this? [At least for the foreseeable future.]”

[Read: Hane: ATSC 3.0 Can Shield TV Broadcasters From Future Spectrum Grabs]

However, none of that really matters because TV broadcasters possess a commodity many others covet and desperately seek to seize. That commodity is spectrum.

Thinking about another “landgrab” is almost inconceivable at this point while broadcasters, vendors and service companies race to meet their 10-phased transition deadlines. But that’s exactly what awaits TV broadcasters if they don’t more fully use the spectrum they’ve been assigned. Lest there’s a doubt, white space device advocates already are pushing ahead with their efforts.

ATSC 3.0 not only offers broadcasters a means to deliver better pictures and sound, a path to new business models, a way to better inform the public in emergencies, an avenue to personalized content and advertising, a vehicle to interactivity and so much more, but most importantly it gives TV broadcasters a way to remain relevant for decades to come. It makes them exemplary stewards of the public resource they’ve been licensed to use and in so doing will garner the support from the public and the protection of regulators and lawmakers who could not countenance being without a vibrant, relevant over-the-air TV service.  

For a comprehensive list of TV Technology’s ATSC 3.0 coverage, see our ATSC3 silo

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.