How ATSC 3.0 Looks Today

ATSC 3.0 logoIf you want to take a peek at the next generation of broadcast TV, you’ll want to read Phil Kurz‘s detailed description of the ATSC 3.0 demonstration hosted this week by WRAL. The story is at TV Technology, which also ran a parallel article by James O’Neal about Sinclair’s state-of-the-art research and testing facility, currently mostly devoted to ATSC 3.0.

At the demonstration, WRAL Director of Engineering and Operations Pete Sockett said that the ATSC 3.0 transmitter was using just 40 kW to cover all of Raleigh, compared to the full million watts that the existing ALSC 1.0 signal uses. Kurz wrote, “ATSC 3.0’s OFDM modulation scheme is so much easier to receive than ATSC 1’s … that the new standard will make it possible for broadcasters to reach viewers over-the-air using smaller home antennas, on the road and even in their basements, (Sockett) said.”

Later, Jim Goodmon Sr., CEO and chairman of the board of Capitol Broadcasting Company, returned to the idea of putting broadcast TV chips in cell phones to handle the (rare) problem of watching TV in a moving vehicle. I’d say that I beat this subject to death years ago, but in retrospect it seems clear that Mobile TV was always DOA. Goodmon apparently doesn’t see it that way, as he said, “Mobile DTV didn’t take off because we couldn’t get the content. If we would have gotten the content out there, the chip makers would have made the chips, and I think people would have put the chips in the phones.” No, if FM broadcasters can’t persuade carriers to allow active FM radio chips in phones, I can’t see how OTA TV chips will be an easier sell.

There’s much more in the article about the positive add-ons, such as targeted emergency information, that ATSC 3.0 enables, but nothing about the scary stuff I still worry about. As a throwaway note, Kurz mentioned that one part the demo featured an ATSC 3.0 gateway taking in the off-air signal and retransmitting it to a tablet via wifi. I’ve got several devices already that take an ATSC 1.0 signal and send it over my local wifi network. Will the folks who run ATSC 3.0 allow such third-party reuse once it launches? We’ll all find out soon enough.