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HEVC-capable TV broadcast standard to bring IP-like service

Posted: 10 Mar 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ATSC 

As early as 2017, a new TV standard could be set in place that could revolutionise the way media is consumed. In fact, according to the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), the ATSC 3.0 could enable users to tune TVs, smartphones or tablets into a 4K video stream with rich colours and immersive audio. The choice of content may be more varied and personalised than what you are used to from a local broadcaster, too, because it will be based on the same Internet standards used by Netflix and YouTube.

That's the dream of ATSC 3.0, the next generation of the U.S. terrestrial TV broadcast standard launched 20 years ago. It's the first TV broadcast standard to embrace IP transport. Past standards used MPEG transport mechanisms, very different from those that carry today's Web content.

"Having broadcast and Internet similarity makes it easy for content providers to swap ads or content, with MPEG-2 it was a very complex operation," said Mark Richer, president of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), adding the shift could open up new business models for broadcasters.

ATSC 3.0 also embraces HTML5, at least in part, at its applications layer. "We have gone essentially the Web-based route," said Richard Chernock who chairs the working groups developing the suite of ATSC 3.0 standards.

Last fall, broadcasters demonstrated one of more than a dozen proposed systems for the physical layer of ATSC in an event attended by EE Times' Junko Yoshida.

The work comes at a time when viewers are increasingly cutting their cable-TV cords, relying on free and lower cost Internet video services instead. But backers say ATSC will still be relevant. "The ultimate way to cut the cord is to use an antenna," said Chernock.

Many viewers who have turned off their cable-TV service already supplement their Internet fare with over-the-air digital TV broadcasts based on the existing standards. In addition, ATSC 3.0 will support a spectrum of configurable services broadcasters can employ, said Richer.

The system will be so much better, more efficient and effective that we will make that case [for cord cutting] even stronger. [ATSC 3.0] doesn't have to be linear TV, it can be file-based and non-real-time. There are lots of options. I think it will do very well if it's rolled out correctly.

The latest standard also will provide improved support for mobile devices. Mobile services based on the existing standard haven't gained much traction for a variety of reasons including technical restraints fitting them in to the prior standard, Richer said. "The whole industry didn't make a push [for mobile TV] at the same time, there were some program rights issues and the market wasn't ready. The technology worked well, but not as well as ATSC 3.0. We think with a whole new start that makes all content receivable on handhelds, it will make a difference."

ATSC 3.0

The ATSC 3.0 work is spread across more than a dozen sub-committees.


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