In Broadcast - January 2015 - 72

72

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 5 - Issue 1 | January 2015

InUSA

Is It Too Late For
A New TV Standard?
By Michael Grotticelli,
Contributing Editor.

T

he
Advanced
Television
Systems Committee (ATSC), the
standardisation body responsible
for over-the-air broadcasting in the
US, continues to debate, discuss and
develop what it's calling the next
generation television platform - ATSC
3.0.
The goal is to enable broadcasters
to compete in today's mobile device
world by distributing live HD and
UltraHD (4K and later 8K) content to
customers at home and on mobile
devices, simultaneously.
The Promise
The very real concern is that not
everyone, including such major TV
broadcast networks as ABC and
CBS, agrees that getting any new
proposal through the lengthy ATSC
standardisation process, and getting
the FCC to mandate it, is worth the
effort and expense. You see, any
new ATSC 3.0 standard would not
be backwards compatible with the
current ATSC 1.0 Digital TV standard
we now use in the US. That means TV
station shave to buy and install new
transmission exciters (and most of the
new proposals now being considered
call for multiple small transmitters

"...any new ATSC
3.0 standard would
not be backwards
compatible with
the current ATSC
1.0 Digital TV
standard we now
use in the US..."

that encircle a market in order to
ensure reliable mobile reception).
A new ATSC standard would also
mean that consumers have to buy
new TV sets with the ATSC 3.0 tuner.
Some engineers working on the project
have said, like the early days of DTV,
we'll probably see a few proprietary
set top converter boxes and a myriad
of compatible external add-on
dongles. Eventually, a new set will be
preferable.
The new spec proposed by Sinclair
Broadcast Group, the largest owner
of TV stations in the US and a chief
driver of moving to a new standard
in order to accommodate higher
resolutions and mobility, does appear
to work. This past October, Sinclair
and Technicolor, a research firm,
jointly hosted a demonstration of
a live 4K transmission using one of
the proposed systems (in this case
an OFDM modulation scheme). The
new platform is based on standards
including Scalable HEVC (SHVC),
MPEG-H audio and MPEG-MMT
transport and was also the first
successful use of SHVC compression
during a broadcast.
"Sinclair continues to work to
bring future value to all broadcast
stakeholders, a future where HDTV and
new services can be reliably delivered
to tablets and portable devices, and
4K UltraHD to our home audience,"
said Mark Aitken, VP of Advanced
Technology for Sinclair, in a statement.
"These new revenue opportunities
bring local broadcasters to the
forefront of serving our local markets."
Another proposal, demonstrated
at local station WKROW-TV, in
Madison, Wisconsin, showed the
promise of "FUTURECAST," which
was co-developed by LG Electronics,
its US R&D subsidiary Zenith, and
GatesAir. Like others, the FUTURECAST
Universal Terrestrial Broadcasting
System is designed to provide the
optimised combination of broadcasting
capabilities for fixed, portable and

ATSC next generation
live television

mobile use. Flexible parameters allow
broadcasters to mix diverse services
- from fixed 4K reception to deepindoor handheld reception to highspeed mobile reception - in a single RF
channel with maximum efficiency.
Both systems support singlefrequency networks and/or multiple
transmitters, and their use of a single
RF transmission's flexible physical
layer profile assures optimum quality
of service. In addition, both systems
are designed to support evolution to
future broadcast systems beyond ATSC
3.0.
Broadcast v Cellular
So, let's assume the equipment
works and broadcasters are able to
send to mobile devices with the same
reliability now found with cellular data
carriers like AT&T, MetroPCS, Sprint
and Verizon. How will the broadcast
industry convince these cellular
companies to include the required
ATSC 3.0 receiver chips into new
mobile devices? The US's infamous
experience with the Mobile Handheld
(M.H) spec - which became ATSC
standard A/153 - showed that these
data carriers consider broadcasters
a competitor and will do everything
they can to delay such a move by cell
phone makers. With few phones with
the TV tuner chips inside (there was
one model, with an external antenna,
from Samsung), terrestrial mobile DTV
failed miserably.
Also, there appears to be no will
within the US government to mandate
yet another broadcast standard that
causes consumers to buy a new TV set
or lose their TV viewing. Addressing
concerns that the poor and elderly
could not afford a new TV set, The
Commerce Department set up a
US$40 coupon programme towards
the purchase of a DTV set top box that
allowed analogue TV sets to receive
digital transmissions. The Commerce
Department said it spent US$1.34

billion on the programme, while many
people went out and bought new DTV
sets as the price came down.
Finally, this effort appears too little
too late. Most consumers watch local
TV on their mobile devices today,
via authenticated services from payTV operators. Most local stations in
the US now offer free apps for the
smartphones to enable this. So what is
a new standard going to add?
The ATSC has received 11 technical
proposals for the "Physical Layer"
(the core transmission system) of the
ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV transmission
standard. For example, the Sinclair
Broadcasting Group and Coherent
Logix say their ATSC 3.0 Physical
Layer proposal is driven by business
requirements
of
broadcasters
(calling them "Television Broadcast
Wireless Carriers") and the need to be
technologically competitive. Whatever
system is chosen will be built around
software definable solutions available
in the market today that can evolve
as the market and individual needs
change.
The next step in the process has been
a continuing series of meetings where
each respondent will be asked to give
tutorial presentations to the ATSC
Specialist Group that is evaluating the
proposed systems. The ATSC said that
while a wide range of technologies
were proposed by respondents, there's
some commonality among many of
them.
Expected to move to "candidate
standard" status over the next two
years, ATSC 3.0 will include higher
capacity to deliver UHD TV services,
robust reception on mobile devices
and improved spectrum efficiency.
But is it enough to help local TV
stations compete in today's fractured
ecosystem of multiple devices and TV
service plans?
Only time - and whether the
broadcast industry can come together
as one on this effort - will tell.


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In Broadcast - January 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - January 2015

In Broadcast - January 2015 - Intro
In Broadcast - January 2015 - Cover1
In Broadcast - January 2015 - Cover2
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 3
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 4
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 5
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 6
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 7
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 8
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 9
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 10
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 11
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 12
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 13
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 14
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 15
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 16
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 17
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 18
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 19
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 20
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 21
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 22
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 23
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 24
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 25
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 26
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 27
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 28
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 29
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 30
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 31
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 32
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 33
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 35
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 38
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 39
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 43
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 46
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 47
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 55
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 56
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 57
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 58
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 59
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 60
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 63
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 71
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In Broadcast - January 2015 - 79
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 80
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 81
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 82
In Broadcast - January 2015 - 83
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S1
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S2
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S3
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S4
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S5
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S6
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S7
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S8
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S9
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S10
In Broadcast - January 2015 - S11
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