Live From CES 2018: Complete ATSC 3.0 Suite Officially Approved; OTA Trials To Begin Later This Year

In a historic day for the long-in-development ATSC 3.0, at CES 2018 on Tuesday, the Advanced Television Systems Committee announced approval of the complete set of ATSC 3.0 next-gen TV-transmission standards. The announcement — made by ATSC President Mark Richer along with CTA President/CEO Gary Shapiro and NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith — marks the culmination of a five-year effort to develop what broadcasters hope will be the key to bringing over-the-air TV into the internet age.

Celebrating approval of the ATSC 3.0 next-gen TV standards at CES 2018: (from left) CTA President/CEO Gary Shapiro, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith, and ATSC President Mark Richer

ATSC 3.0 provides broadcasters with increased flexibility and new market opportunities through enhanced transmission and reception functionality and delivery of 4K UHD, immersive audio, and interactive services using a mix of internet and broadcast connections.

U.S. Broadcast Trials To Begin This Year
South Korean broadcasters have already initiated ATSC 3.0 for UHDTV broadcast service in the lead-up to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics next month. The hope is that, with ATSC 3.0’s final approval, American broadcasters will not be far behind. The first trials of ATSC 3.0 services and products will begin later this year.

“Our suite of ATSC 3.0 standards paves the way for a new kind of television service, one that is far more flexible and adaptable than previous standards,” said Richer. “ATSC 3.0 will bring historic innovations to broadcasters and to viewers, from robust transmission to immersive audio and from 4K Ultra HDTV to interactive services and more. The 20 individual standards that comprise ATSC 3.0 will give broadcasters the ability to use new transmission methods and finally bring together innovations in both over-the-air and broadband services.”

He added that ATSC will continue to work on the standard, including its deployment in initial markets and future enhancements, and also will educate stakeholders about the new standard and assist them in implementation planning.

“Going forward, I see the ATSC as an important information center for broadcasters and manufacturers preparing to launch services and products,” said ATSC Board Chairman Richard Friedel, EVP/GM, Fox Networks Engineering & Operations. “That means exciting opportunities for our members to get engaged in field testing, broadcast trials, and plug-fests this year. There will also be opportunities to contribute to important new work on conformance and compliance, privacy and security, and more.”

Broadcasters See Big Opportunity in ATSC 3.0
In November, the FCC authorized broadcasters to begin over-the-air transmission of ATSC 3.0-based next-gen TV on a voluntary basis. Tuesday’s announcement marks the next step in the process, with selected broadcasters expected to begin trials in the coming months.

“Broadcasters stand ready to take full advantage of the capabilities of the new voluntary standard, which can seamlessly mix both broadcast and broadband content to deliver enhanced information and entertainment for our viewers,” said Smith. “One of the most compelling new features of ATSC 3.0 will be the rich-media emergency-alerting capabilities, allowing local broadcasters to target viewers in specific areas in their markets when disaster looms. Our viewers depend on their local stations for breaking news and information, and ATSC 3.0 gives local stations the ability to merge resources and information like never before.”

ATSC 3.0 Consumer Products Likely on the Way Next Year
Although ATSC 3.0-supported consumer products are not expected until 2019 or 2020, solutions are being demonstrated at CES 2018 in private suites and behind-the-scenes demonstrations.

“Coupled with the latest innovations in display and audio technology, Next Gen TV, powered by ATSC 3.0, will offer a breathtakingly immersive viewing experience with access to an array of innovative and interactive information services,” said Shapiro. “While we forecast sales of digital displays to increase in 2018, we anticipate future growth will be driven in part by this exciting new technology and the amazing features it brings.”

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