Next Gen TV Countdown Begins

This graphic reflects the ATSC 3.0 standard's state of completion as of the end of March. By the time the of publication, A/338 likely will be completed. The FCC NPRM includes A/321, the foundation standard of ATSC 3.0.

Next Gen TV is ready for prime time and prime real estate. It is this year’s prominent feature on the Grand Concourse, where this new broadcast television transmission standard, known as ATSC 3.0, will be demonstrated on market-ready equipment.

“It’s not a science experiment anymore,” said NAB Senior Vice President of Technology Lynn Claudy.

ATSC 3.0, also known as Next Gen TV, provides for a media distribution system unlike any other. It enables en masse one-to-many, live data delivery to homes, cars, televisions and cellphones. It can deliver multiple program languages and the sound of raindrops all around a room. It can carry high-dynamic range 4KTV, and it supports an emergency alert platform that aggregates, delivers and displays cross-agency information in real time on nearly anything with a screen.

The standard is being finalized in the United States, and is sufficiently complete for the Republic of Korea to launch it next month in anticipation of delivering the 2018 Winter Olympics in Ultra HD.

“Several of the networks are already on the air here, and we were able to tour their facilities as well as view new ATSC 3.0 sets receiving the transmissions at the hotel where the conference was held,” Claudy wrote in an email from Seoul, where he, along with NAB’s President and CEO Gordon Smith, Chief Technology Officer Sam Matheny and Vice President of Technology Education and Outreach Skip Pizzi toured 3.0 facilities and viewed Next Gen TV signals at the Global UHD Conference.

In the United States, at least one station — WRAL in Raleigh, N.C. — is broadcasting 24/7 in the new standard, and another — NAB and CTA’s test station at WJW-TV in Cleveland — will be firing up the signal at the request of manufacturers and others that desire to test their equipment. A third — KLSV-LD here in Las Vegas — is once again transmitting Next Gen TV to the convention center.

Specifically, KLSV-LD is broadcasting a live, Ultra HD signal into the NextGen TV Hub located in the Grand Concourse where the NAB Store was in the past.

“Whereas last year’s broadcast from that station used quite a bit of prototype equipment,” Claudy said, “this year will see the commercial introduction of the professional equipment market for broadcasting ATSC 3.0.”

This year’s NAB Show will again host the ATSC 3.0 Pavilion, located in Futures Park, where research and development efforts surrounding the technology will be on display,

Additionally, the Business of Broadcast and Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conferences will feature sessions focused on Next Gen TV engineering and deployment, as well as legal and regulatory concerns.

AN AWARN-created 3.0 hazmat alert can include rich media and links to related resources.

Next Gen TV technology is such a departure from the current mode of over-the-air TV delivery that business models are a green field. “What is the standard’s business potential” is a ubiquitous question among cash-strapped broadcasters facing transmitter retrofits in the post-incentive auction repack. Enter the AWARN Alliance, a partnership of broadcasters and equipment vendors developing a rich media emergency alert platform.

Thus far, AWARN has demonstrated AMBER, hazmat and tornado alerts encoded for Next Gen TV. These can further be encoded as an HTML5 app, which NAB PILOT is demonstrating at the Hub on tablet computers via Wi-Fi.

“We have found that, as we create these alerts, we are also creating prototypes for the Next Gen TV business model,” said John Lawson, AWARN executive director. “The geo-targeting, rich-media, personalization, interactivity, deep indoor and mobile reception of our alerts is paving the way for targeted ads, hybrid networks, etc.”

Lawson said AWARN will next “stand up a Public Safety Technical Advisory Committee and will be organizing user groups later this year to begin creating the public safety-broadcaster interface.”

The advanced emergency alert capabilities of Next Gen TV got shout-outs from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn when they voted Feb. 23 on a proposal to allow voluntary deployment of the technology. That Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is out for comments due May 6, and replies on June 8. A rulemaking is expected by the end of 2017, when the repack is in full swing and all 23 elements of the transmission standard are on track to be finalized.

“All in all,” Claudy said, “while the concept of ATSC 3.0 at the NAB Show is certainly not new, itʼs a lot closer to reality now, and everyone who comes to the show in Las Vegas will be getting that message.”