What is ATSC 3.0?  Merges Your TV with Broadband Internet, Ready or Not!

ATSC 3.0 is the latest version of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard. Your current TV is using ATSC 1.0 . ATSC 3.0 broadcast system standard combines broadcasting and broadband internet into an integrated entertainment system.  The ATSC 3.0 standard will bring several enhancements to mobile TV viewing, including better sound quality, ultra high definition TV, 3D TV, more dynamic range, higher frame rates and a more extensive gamut of colors. To do all of this the standard marries your TV to your broadband Internet, converting the TV digital signal to the Internet protocol enabling data streams integration at your TV set or a set-top box.

Next Gen TV

How does all this work?  The short answer, ATSC 3.0 will be a hybrid television delivery system. The audio and video content will be broadcast over the air in an IP format, and other content like targeted ads will be sent over your IP internet connection and integrates them into the selected video program. This will require a different kind of over the air tuner than the digital tuner you have now, which will be a gateway that connects to your home WiFi router or a gateway with a built-in WIFI router.

When will all this happen? It is happening in South Korea right now; they are working out the bugs and refining the software and developing the integrated hardware.  In the US the pace is much slower, without any government prodding or incentives.

From the Tablo Blog:

Earlier this year, the FCC cleared the way for voluntary adoption of ATSC 3.0. Unlike with the well-planned 2009 transition to ATSC 1.0, as of now there is no specific goal date for the switchover. In fact, members of the FCC noted during the adoption deliberations that setting a transition date now was ‘premature’ (http://www.multichannel.com/news/policy/fcc-unanimously- approves-atsc-30-rollout-proposal/411086) and even raised concerns about lack of details in the plan and how it would impact consumers.

Right now, alpha trials of ATSC 3.0 broadcasts are planned for late 2017 by WRAL-TV (NBC) in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and WJW-TV (FOX) in Cleveland, Ohio. While early work on this standard is being undertaken by other stations, the rest of the voluntary deployments by broadcasters won’t begin until 2019. Even then, broadcasters will be required to simulcast via the ATSC 1.0 standard for a set (but still undetermined) time period.

Why should you care about ATSC 3.0 The first thought that comes to mind it assumes that all TV set owner has a broadband internet connection.  In April 2017 the California Public Utilities Commission found that only 43 percent of rural households had access to reliable broadband service.  While agencies and companies are struggling to bring broadband to rural families, they may not succeed by the time ATSC 3.0 is fully implemented over the next decade. 

The troubling part is it may take the US a decade to fully implement this standard, as it requires TV stations to buy more expensive equipment while maintaining the 1.0 standard broadcasts. From a competitive technology standpoint, the US is being left in the dust. South Korea plans to have their system in operation by 2018.

From the Tablo Blog again:

South Korea has already chosen ATSC 3.0 as its next-generation broadcast standard. Since 2016, LG Electronics and its partners have conducted successful trials of an end-to-end 4K Ultra HD OTA broadcast using the ATSC 3.0 candidate standards. The South Korean plan is to deploy ATSC 3.0 nationally in time for broadcasts of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

It should be noted that South Korea is a small country led by imaginative leaders in the technology sector,  Your LG TV set will be ready for ATSC 3.0 long before your favorite TV station is ready to transmit an ATSC 3.0 signal. This time gap leaves an opening for a new stations to capture the technology wave. ATSC 3.0 TV sets in your den with no signal, is a void to be filled by video and broadband entrepreneurs. 

I will be tracking this technology as part of my Rural Economy Technology quest. Stay Tuned.


4 thoughts on “What is ATSC 3.0?  Merges Your TV with Broadband Internet, Ready or Not!

  1. Stu October 12, 2017 / 11:20 pm

    This is my world, as mentioned, it does enable 4k and there is a lot of native 4k production (recent GoPro cameras are 4k and Blackmagic has “Professional” 4k cameras under $1k) as well as Dolby Atmos (have to love it when you get a propitarty technology incorporated into a standard!) which when done well and displayed on a large enough screen with full surround is truly impressive!

    That said, unlike the analog to digital transition there is no government supplied $40 Set Top Box this time – but the spectrum repack will drive a lot of stations towards ATSC 3.0 – mainly for the ad $’s (and history) when they are able to tie all your “screens” (TV, Laptop/PC, tablet, smart phone, car etc.) together

    Most consumer 4k “TVs” require a internet connection


    • Russ Steele October 14, 2017 / 4:37 pm

      Thanks for the insight. I did not know that 4K TV required an Internet connection. Is there any internet speed requirements, how fast does the connection have to be?


      • Stu October 20, 2017 / 10:27 pm

        Only for the streaming services – almost all are “Smart” and the first thing in the set up is the internet connection (And the Samsung’s that eavesdrop!) but they also “Phone home” for software updates.

        And – gather tracing information for targeted advertisements on all your screens. . .


  2. Russ Steele October 21, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    Stu, Thanks for the information. Not sure I want a Samsung TV that monitors what I watch. Are there other brands that also monitors viewer choices?


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