As ATSC works toward completing a candidate ATSC 3.0 standard, proponents have started demonstrating their ATSC 3.0 technologies. In late October LG Electronics and GatesAir demonstrated their FUTURECAST hardware in an overnight test (opens in new tab) using WKOW in Madison, Wisconsin. In early November, less than a month later, ONE Media conducted a demonstration of its complete system using a 700 MHz channel leased from Dish Network.
The ONE Media proposal builds on the original joint submission to ATSC by its founders, Coherent Logix and Sinclair Broadcast Group. ONE Media has made an effort to reach out to broadcasters with its proposal, which it says offers greater flexibility and more opportunities for broadcasters than competing proposals, most of which evolved from the latest DVB standards.
The hardware used in the ONE Media demonstration did not rely on FPGA prototypes. Mark Aitken, vice president for advanced technology at Sinclair, told me they were able to get from “paper spec” to an operational prototype system in five months using Coherent Logix' HyperX Hardware Application Development System (hxHADS). He said designing a similar system would have taken 12-14 months using FPGAs.
Like all ATSC 3.0 proposals, the ONE Media system is IP-based. This allowed ONE Media to transmit the content to a receiver, then simply multicast the IP stream over Wi-Fi to the tablets used in the demonstration.
Kevin Gage, ONE Media's EVP and CTO explained, “Rather than designing a broadcast television specific standard, ONE Media’s approach is to deploy an IP service-agnostic platform which supports full 4K UltraHD and mobile broadcast television and also supports new one to many data distribution services, essentially future proofing broadcasters flexibility to meet future market demands.”
ONE Media has posted the NGBP Physical Layer Overview it presented to broadcasters on the ONE Media website. The website lists the advantages ONE Media sees in its proposal for ATSC 3.0.
Because ONE Media's Austin tests are being conducted on what's now non-broadcast spectrum, it is able to use it 24/7 for more exhaustive testing. ONE Media expects 24-hour over-the-air testing of the ONE Media system to begin at the newly commissioned Austin transmission facilities by year-end. ONE Media's President Tommy Eng added, “These real-world verification demonstrations will be critical in establishing the suitability of ONE Media’s broadcast transmission platform as designed by and for U.S. broadcasters.”
Look for demonstrations of the other proponent's systems within the next few months. Broadcasters want to see how the different technologies perform in the real world. Ideally, the ATSC 3.0 standard will be one that takes full advantage of the best technologies from all proponents, irrespective of the proponent proposing it. It should also be one that will allow broadcasting technology to advance with technology instead of being locked into out-dated technologies but without disenfranchising existing viewers. That won't be easy!
Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.
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