Monday, August 05, 2013
What’s the Latest on ATSC 3.0?
While ATSC 2.0 added backwards-compatible enhancements like Mobile DTV to the existing ATSC Digital Television standard, ATSC 3.0 is a next-generation version of digital television that proposes significant improvements in performance, functionality, and efficiency.
As such, it’s a very big deal because it won’t be backwards compatible with the ATSC transmission infrastructure that DTV broadcasters now have in place. So by voluntarily adopting ATSC 3.0, DTV broadcasters will have to replace some equipment and integrate third party systems to make the entire transmission chain work seamlessly.
But the investment will be well worth it. According to Jay Adrick, Harris Broadcast’s own ATSC DTV expert, “ATSC 3.0 will offer DTV broadcasters many operational advantages and enable them to deliver many exciting, new applications and services to viewers.”
“The primary advantage is that ATSC 3.0 hopes to increase the DTV payload that can be carried in the 6-MHz ATSC channel,” Adrick added. “Owing to today’s advanced codecs, broadcasters might see a 30% increase in physical layer capacity, plus increased content capacity due to more efficient encoding methods. These increases will enable broadcasters to provide:
- Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV), which is very bitrate-intensive
- Several HDTV streams along with SDTV and Mobile DTV rather than one HD as is typical today
- Multiple Mobile DTV streams
- New support for interactive programming and commercials
- Compatibility with IP-based and second screen content
“It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that whatever physical layer is picked, it’s 99.9% likely that it will be an OFDM-based emission—rather than a single carrier mode like 8VSB—and the transport of the bits will be IP-based,” Adrick said. “For this reason, it’ll be very compatible with existing IP-based content and technologies that are out there.”
ATSC working group TG3, which is chaired by James Kutzner, Senior Director of Advanced Technology for PBS, is currently calling for proposals for the physical layer of the new system while other ad hoc groups are focused on the management, presentation, and applications layers. By late October 2013, the group will begin a six-month evaluation of physical layer proposals as they move towards development of the new standard