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    Where is ATSC 3.0?
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    ATSC 3.0: The next major broadcast standard explained
    By Kris Wouk — Posted on July 26, 2018 - 12:47PM

    You might not have heard about it much yet, but in the coming years, you’re sure to hear the term ATSC 3.0 a lot, and with good reason: It could be a massive overhaul for antenna-based TV, AKA over-the-air (OTA) TV.

    ATSC 3.0 may sound like the name of a new Star Wars vehicle, or possibly a standardized test required to get into grad school. But in fact, it’s a major upgrade for antenna TV, designed to allow for 4K resolution and even a major sound upgrade to broadcast TV. The switch could be as significant as the transition from analog broadcasts to digital HD — except this time it’s going to be a whole lot easier. Follow us below to find out all you need to know about ATSC 3.0.

    What is ATSC 3.0?
    ATSC is the latest version of the Advanced Television Systems Committee standards, defining how exactly television signals are broadcast and interpreted. OTA TV signals currently use version 1.0 of the ATSC standards, which were introduced all the way back in 1996, initiating the switch from analog to digital TV that was finalized in the U.S. in 2009. Unlike the current standard, ATSC 3.0 makes use of both over-the-air signals and your in-home broadband to deliver an experience closer to cable or satellite.

    If you’re wondering what happened to ATSC 2.0, it was basically outdated before it had the chance to launch. All of the changes that were added in ATSC 2.0 have been integrated into ATSC 3.0, which is now close enough to launch that ATSC 2.0 was essentially skipped.

    What are the benefits?
    The first major benefit is picture quality. While the current ATSC 1.0 standard caps out at 1080p — and even that is rare to find when it comes to OTA TV — the new standard allows 4K UHD broadcast. That’s not all either. Other picture quality upgrades, including high dynamic range (HDR), wide color gamut (WCG), and high frame rate (HFR) are all part of the new provision. The standard also allows for possible extensions later on, which could allow for additional benefits to picture quality.

    ATSC 3.0 also include benefits for reception, meaning you should be able to receive more channels in higher quality without the need for a large antenna. Audio quality is increased as well, using Dolby AC-4 instead of AC-3, allowing for broadcasts of up to 7.1.4 channel audio to support object-based sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. AC-3 is limited to just 5.1 channel surround.

    In addition to the picture and audio improvements, ATSC 3.0 also makes it possible to watch broadcast video on mobile devices like phones and tablets as well as in cars. Advanced emergency alerts are also part of the standard, including better geo-targeting, which means advancements like the ability to broadcast evacuation routes to the areas that need that information.

    What are the downsides?
    ATSC 3.0 is not backward compatible with ATSC 1.0, which means that if your TV doesn’t include an ATSC 3.0 tuner, you’ll need an external converter to make use of those signals. Fortunately, due to the way that the newer standard works, you would only need one converter box no matter how many devices you’re watching on, meaning it won’t be nearly as much of a hassle as the move from analog to digital.

    One other possible downside, depending on how you look at it, is that the same geotargeting that allows for advanced emergency alerts can also be used for targeted ads. This means that the ads you see on TV will start to more closely resemble what you see online. If this doesn’t bother you on the web, it shouldn’t bother you on your TV, but it is something to be aware of.

    How Does it Work?
    As mentioned above, ATSC 3.0 combines OTA broadcast signals with your home internet. At the base level, actual programming like shows and movies are broadcast and received over the air, while commercials are provided over the internet. Three different video formats are supported: Legacy HD, which supports resolutions up to 720×480; Interlaced HD, which supports signals up to 1080i; and Progressive Video, which supports resolutions from 1080p up to 4K UHD.

    An ATSC 3.0 tuner will have two connections: One to your antenna, and another — either via Wi-Fi or Ethernet — to your Wi-Fi router. The benefit here is that you’ll only ever need one antenna in your home, since other set-top boxes, smart TVs, and mobile devices in your home will receive the TV signals over Wi-Fi. This is somewhat similar to the way master DVR and satellite boxes are employed by cable and satellite companies use, only without the need for specialized equipment.

    Am I going to need a new TV?
    The short answer is no. As explained above, if your TV doesn’t support ATSC 3.0, you’ll be able to get by with an external converter box. That’s if you want to receive ATSC 3.0 signals at all. This time, it’s your choice.

    The switch from analog NTSC video to digital ATSC video was a mandatory one, with a plan for a full switchover and a deadline for that switch from very early on. When the FCC approved ATSC 3.0, it did so in a way that allowed stations to broadcast in the new format on a voluntary basis. This is not a mandatory switch. More to the point, stations that do voluntarily broadcast in ATSC 3.0 must continue to offer ATSC 1.0 signals for at least five years after the switch.

    That said, newer TVs that include ATSC 3.0 tuners will be able to make use of all the benefits of the new standards by default. If your current TV doesn’t support 4K or HDR, you’ll need to upgrade to view that programming. Then there is the matter of the future. Unlike ATSC 1.0, the new version allows for extensions. Moving forward, this could mean support for even higher resolution video formats like 8K, or other audio or video improvements that may arise in the coming years.

    When can we expect ATSC 3.0 to arrive?
    Various television stations have been conducting test broadcasts of ATSC 3.0 since 2014, but this was before the standard was even fully finished. Voluntary rollouts are expected to begin in 2019, but it will likely be a while longer before the new standard is anything resembling common.

    Is anyone already broadcasting in ATSC 3.0?
    In the U.S., test markets have begun rolling out using the finalized version of the standard. In November 2017, the National Association of Broadcasters was granted a license to begin operating a “living laboratory” in Cleveland, broadcasting ATSC 3.0 in full power. Similarly, seven broadcasters are preparing to launch a “model market” in Phoenix.

    Outside of the U.S., the standard is already being adopted. The three major local broadcasters in South Korea — MBC, KBS, and SBS — began broadcasting ATSC 3.0 in May 2017. The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea will be broadcast using the new standard.

    So when will I be able to use it?
    As mentioned above, we won’t begin to see many broadcasters initiating voluntary rollouts beginning in 2019, especially since the standard was only accepted by the FCC in November. TVs, DVRs, and converter boxes with support for ATSC 3.0 will trickle out slowly at first, with early adopters likely able to start watching ATSC 3.0 signals by 2020. For the rest of us, it might be a while.

    As for a full switchover, that will be a long time if and when it even happens. Since this isn’t a mandatory switch, broadcasters can continue to use ATSC 1.0 for as long as they like. Even on a station-by-station basis, with the mandatory five-year period that stations must offer ATSC 1.0 signals, a station that started broadcasting the new standard in 2018 wouldn’t be able to drop ATSC 1.0 entirely until 2023.

    In addition, there is always the possibility that something else may come along and replace ATSC 3.0 before it gains a foothold. This has happened before: You might have noticed that this article doesn’t mention ATSC 2.0, which was superseded by ATSC 3.0 before it even had the chance to be finalized, as it was already quickly becoming out of date.

    Assuming it does take over, the adoption of ATSC 3.0 will likely be a slow one. If you’re jumping at the chance, you don’t have to wait for too long, but if you’re put off by the idea, it’s something you can safely ignore for at least a few more years.

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    ATSC 3.0 Progress Report

    Doug Lung
    Jun 28, 2018


    Successful demonstrations continue but more work remains

    As I write this, the 2018 NAB Show and the ATSC Next Gen TV Conference have come and gone. Since my last column I also had a chance to visit WRAL-TV in Raleigh and see the demonstration of the PyeongChang Olympics broadcast over their ATSC 3.0 station, complete with interactive content.

    These events gave me a glimpse of the future of over-the-air TV broadcasting from the perspective of broadcasters, manufacturers and the engineers who created it and are now building that future.

    ATSC 3.0 MATURES

    Thanks to Pete Sockett and Capitol Broadcasting for inviting me to see the Next Gen TV demonstration in Raleigh at the State Club at North Carolina State University, and allowing me to help with the setup. It was great to see how ATSC 3.0 works in the real world.

    WRAL-TV’s ATSC 3.0 transmitter has an ERP of only 40 kW, well below what most broadcasters will eventually use for ATSC 3.0, but even at this power we were able to receive the Olympics UHD programming with a Mohu Leaf antenna attached to a curtain behind the TV.

    The more robust stream with WRAL-TV’s HD programming was received reliably around the room on prototype ATSC 3.0 dongles and a standard Windows 10 tablet. For more information and pictures, see [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

    The opportunity to see how ATSC 3.0 worked over-the-air in Raleigh and see the options available gave me more confidence broadcasters will be able to successfully roll out this complex standard.

    For a successful rollout, it will be important that station engineers have a chance to play with the technology, try different transmission parameters and explore the options the standard offers for delivering content and emergency information in different ways before the number of viewers increase and business needs limit station engineers’ opportunity to experiment.

    At the NAB Show broadcasters were able to see ATSC 3.0 content over low-power transmitters in the exhibit hall and from a transmitter on Black Mountain.

    Overall, this year’s demonstrations were similar to those from last year, but more polished, with extended features. For me, it was a sign the ATSC 3.0 landscape is maturing, getting ready for rollout.

    One exhibit in the LVCC lobby highlighted all the stations currently on the air with ATSC 3.0 broadcasts — Sinclair’s single frequency network in Baltimore and Washington, the NAB test station in Cleveland, WRAL-TV’s station in Raleigh and new test stations in Phoenix and Dallas. For more on the Phoenix project, see [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

    Another sign that ATSC 3.0 is maturing was the number of companies showing products for ATSC 3.0 at the NAB Show. Two years ago most transmitter manufacturers promised some upgrade path to ATSC 3.0. Last year, all the ATSC 1.0 transmitter manufacturers I’m aware of offered an ATSC 3.0 exciter option of some sort.

    For ATSC 3.0 to succeed, we need to get more ATSC 3.0 stations on the air, even if the number of viewers may be limited.

    What was new this year was an increased number of products for receiving and decoding the ATSC 3.0 signals from those transmitters. Other manufacturers offered standalone receiver/decoder solutions.

    The price of these receivers — approaching $20,000 or higher depending on the options — seemed high until I thought about what we paid for analog TV monitoring. A proper monitoring setup for an analog TV station around 1990 consisted of a Tektronix 1450 television demodulator (with the TDC downconverter), a VM-700 analyzer and a BTSC audio modulation monitor. It would be tough to put together an ATSC 3.0 monitoring package that cost as much as that setup!

    I know many readers are looking for a less expensive way of viewing ATSC 3.0. I had the opportunity to test the Airwavz dongle at the NAB Show. I plugged the dongle into my laptop and was able to view the characteristics of the Black Mountain ATSC 3.0 signal I received in my hotel room. This used an early version of the software that did not allow viewing content on the laptop.

    Airwavz said they had tried routing the IP output from the program to the network input of a Sony ATSC 3.0 TV set in the same booth and it was able to decode and display the stream. I’ll have more on this product when I have a chance to upgrade to the latest software and test it in a location with an ATSC 3.0 signal.

    In discussions with some manufacturers at the show, it looks like there may be some other ATSC 3.0 dongles appearing at some point in the future. Don’t expect the price to match that of an ATSC 1.0 dongle, but pricing around $250 or less may be possible. Final price and timing for ATSC 3.0 dongles and “converter boxes” (which will likely stream content over an IP connection to a smart TV, tablet or PC running an ATSC 3.0 application) will depend on the availability of lower-cost demodulator chips as well as IP (intellectual property licensing) costs.

    WHAT’S NEXT?

    At the ATSC Next Gen TV Conference in Washington in May it was clear ATSC 3.0 had the support of broadcasters, consumer electronics manufacturers and even government. Unlike the previous conference, which focused primarily on the technology and the potential of the standard, this year’s conference highlighted real-world applications, some of which are being rolled out now in limited form with ATSC 1.0.

    Emergency alerting, with the ability to provide detailed information in the form of maps, videos and text with an ease that would be impossible using cellular messaging is a key feature for governments.

    More precise measurement of TV viewing is of interest to advertisers and broadcasters competing with on-line advertising. Both are available now.

    The transition to ATSC 3.0 will be complicated, not only for broadcasters but cable companies as well. Cable carriage of ATSC 3.0 content is going to require cooperation between broadcasters and cable companies. I was pleased to hear about the progress made towards this in ATSC TG3/S37, the Specialist Group on Conversion and Redistribution of ATSC 3.0 Service.

    For ATSC 3.0 to succeed, we need to get more ATSC 3.0 stations on the air, even if the number of viewers may be limited. In the early days of ATSC 1.0, station engineers had a one-to-one relationship with early adopters of HDTV, sometimes changing settings to help them get reception when one manufacturer’s receiver had a problem with their transport stream.

    While all indications are the first-generation ATSC 3.0 receivers are working much better, I expect there will still be a lot of broadcaster-viewer interaction. That’s a key focus of the Phoenix test and essential for a transition to ATSC 3.0 to succeed.

    Until full-power stations are willing to put their ATSC 1.0 programming on another station’s signal and switch to ATSC 3.0, finding transition spectrum is going to be difficult. Class A and LPTV stations have a role to play. While the lower ERP (about 4.3 dB less than the WRAL-TV ATSC 3.0 station) may make indoor reception more difficult at higher bit rates, the early adopters of ATSC 3.0 may be willing to make an extra effort to get a decent signal. Setting expectations will be important.

    I’m looking forward to seeing more ATSC 3.0 stations on the air, using the Airwavz dongle to see how they work in the real world, and hearing the experiences of engineers putting ATSC 3.0 on the air!

    As always, your comments and questions are welcome. Email me at [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].
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    Here is the Only ATSC 3.0 USB device that I have found or seen.

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]

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    Wow, is that price American dollars?
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    Crazy=============lol
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    Yes. American dollars.
    The first products for new technology are always high. The Redzone device is aimed at professionals of course, but right now, even a non-professional usb device would most likely be several hundred dollars.
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    In my neck of the woods they are still doing the repack with atsc 3.0 transmissions still to materialize in the future (when? no engineers I called seems to know). [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
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    When can we expect ATSC 3.0 to arrive?
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    Home Theater
    ATSC 3.0: The next major broadcast standard explained
    By Kris Wouk — Posted on September 25, 2018 - 8:44AM



    Various television stations have been conducting test broadcasts of ATSC 3.0 since 2014, but this was before the standard was even fully finished. Voluntary rollouts are expected to begin in 2019, but it will likely be a while longer before the new standard is anything resembling common.
    Is anyone already broadcasting in ATSC 3.0?

    In the U.S., test markets have begun rolling out using the finalized version of the standard. In November 2017, the National Association of Broadcasters was granted a license to begin operating a “living laboratory” in Cleveland, broadcasting ATSC 3.0 in full power. Similarly, seven broadcasters are preparing to launch a “model market” in Phoenix. More recently, a single station has begun broadcasting the standard in Chicago and another will soon come to Dallas.

    Outside of the U.S., the standard is already being adopted. The three major local broadcasters in South Korea — MBC, KBS, and SBS — began broadcasting ATSC 3.0 in May 2017. The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea will be broadcast using the new standard.
    So when will I be able to use it?

    As mentioned above, we won’t begin to see many broadcasters initiating voluntary rollouts beginning in 2019, especially since the standard was only accepted by the FCC in November. TVs, DVRs, and converter boxes with support for ATSC 3.0 will trickle out slowly at first, with early adopters likely able to start watching ATSC 3.0 signals by 2020. For the rest of us, it might be a while.

    As for a full switchover, that will be a long time if and when it even happens. Since this isn’t a mandatory switch, broadcasters can continue to use ATSC 1.0 for as long as they like. Even on a station-by-station basis, with the mandatory five-year period that stations must offer ATSC 1.0 signals, a station that started broadcasting the new standard in 2018 wouldn’t be able to drop ATSC 1.0 entirely until 2023.

    In addition, there is always the possibility that something else may come along and replace ATSC 3.0 before it gains a foothold. This has happened before: You might have noticed that this article doesn’t mention ATSC 2.0, which was superseded by ATSC 3.0 before it even had the chance to be finalized, as it was already quickly becoming out of date.

    Assuming it does take over, the adoption of ATSC 3.0 will likely be a slow one. If you’re jumping at the chance, you don’t have to wait for too long, but if you’re put off by the idea, it’s something you can safely ignore for at least a few more years.

    [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
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    Expanded Launch Provides ‘Groundbreaking Opportunities’

    Next Gen TV powered by ATSC 3.0 will be broadly launched by individual broadcasters beginning in 2020, concurrent with the anticipated introduction of consumer TV products equipped to receive ATSC 3.0. Announcing their collaborative effort and support for the widespread introduction of ATSC 3.0 at the NAB New York show were top executives from Fox Television Stations, NBC Owned Stations Group, Nexstar Media Group, Pearl TV, Spectrum Co., TEGNA Inc., Telemundo Owned Stations Group and Univision.

    “A big challenge was whether the big owners of valuable spectrum could work together, commit resources, and stick to the game plan. Done, done and done,” said Jack Abernethy, Chief Executive Officer at FOX Television Stations.

    In this industry-wide effort for Next Gen TV deployment, the parties will work collaboratively to offer both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0, while significantly expanding the footprint of next-generation ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. Other commercial and public TV broadcasters interested in Next Gen TV service also are expected to join this effort.

    The joint announcement emphasized how the expanded launch of ATSC 3.0 “provides groundbreaking opportunities for TV broadcasters interested in offering new features and serving new markets. “ Deployment of ATSC 3.0 will provide information and entertainment to ATSC 3.0-equipped television receivers, to automobiles, and to other digital and mobile consumer devices, the broadcasters said.

    “Pearl TV’s 300 local broadcasters, along with our network partners, are working together to deliver a national Next Gen TV service by the end of 2020,” according to Dave Lougee, President and CEO of TEGNA, Inc., one of the Pearl TV broadcast group members.

    Perry Sook, President and CEO of Nexstar Media Group, said the more than 350 SpectrumCo stations participating and additional new members in the pipeline bring “immense scale and depth to the collaborative industry-wide rollout of ATSC 3.0.”

    “As one of the largest TV spectrum holders in the US, we are eager to bring an enhanced audio and video experience to our audience, as well as new services and capabilities to our advertising partners,” said Vince Sadusky, Chief Executive Officer at Univision.

    According to Valari Staab, President, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, the new standard “will transform the way we deliver content to our audiences — including viewers who are consuming information in multiple languages and screens — and help us to better connect advertisers with the audiences they want to reach on any platform.”

    “ATSC 3.0 is something that as an industry we have to do,” she concluded.
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    More or Less, ATSC 3.0 will not be available until 2020 at the earliest. Anyone viewing ATSC 3.0 before then will be considered a tester and will probably have paid a very high price for the ATSC 3.0 viewing device.
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    ""ATSC 3.0 is something that as an industry we have to do,” she concluded."

    Especially when there is big $$$ involved....
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