Kutzner: ATSC 3.0 won’t keep broadcasters from advancing

Jim Kutzner, senior director of Advanced Technology for PBS and chair of the ATSC technical group working on ATSC 3.0, may not yet know all of the details of this next-generation advancement in digital television standards, but he does know this: ATSC 3.0 will be “flexible and extensible.”

What that specifically means for television broadcasters is fundamentally important to their future success, namely, the freedom to adopt new, more efficient digital technologies as they come along so television broadcasters can remain competitive.

Being flexible and extensible means broadcasters will not be locked into what is state-of-the-art digital compression and modulation technology when the standard is adopted, but soon looks long in the tooth as inevitable technological advancements and Moore’s Law conspire to chip away at the competitiveness of their core technology. In other words, by being flexible and extensible, broadcasters can leverage the benefits of new technology advancements rather than being excluded by definition from a brighter tomorrow.

At the 2013 NAB Show, I interviewed Kutzner about where his technical group is headed with ATSC 3.0 development, the ATSC’s recent call for proposals to define the physical layer of the new digital television standard, the timetable he envisions for completing the standard and some of the new services that will be available as part of the new standard.

It should be noted that deployment of ATSC 3.0 ultimately will require approval from the FCC. That probably won’t be easy because ATSC 3.0 very likely will not be backwards-compatible with today’s ATSC A/53 digital television standard. However, the strategy in developing ATSC 3.0 seems to be that the extreme spectrum efficiency and new services envisioned for the standard will make selling the government on the idea of embracing a non-backwards-compatible DTV standard possible.