ATSC Marks Milestone for Next-Generation Broadcast Television

The first ingredient in the Physical Layer transmission standard for next-generation TV broadcasts is now an Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) “Candidate Standard,” marking an important milestone in the process to develop the ATSC 3.0 standard, the Advanced Television Systems Committee announced today.

The ATSC’s Technology Group developing ATSC 3.0 has voted to approve the elevation of “System Discovery and Signaling” technology to Candidate Standard status. This so-called “bootstrap signal” portion of the Physical Layer (A/321 Part 1) will be important to the future evolution of ATSC 3.0.

“The Candidate Standard process for ATSC 3.0 is officially under way,” said ATSC President Mark Richer, who explained that the core elements of the Physical Layer – including the modulation system, error correction algorithms, constellations and other aspects – are expected to be balloted for ATSC Candidate Standard status this summer.

The ATSC is in the process of developing the next-generation ATSC 3.0 terrestrial television broadcast standard with advanced performance and functionality made possible by new technologies and strategies. This next-generation standard must provide improvements in performance, functionality and efficiency that are significant enough to warrant the challenges of a transition to a new system.

The bootstrap signal for ATSC 3.0 transmission will remain a Candidate Standard for nine months while prototype equipment may be built and tested in advance of balloting for the entire system. The TG3 Candidate Standard ballot for this portion of the Physical Layer was issued April with a May 5 voting deadline.

“Simply put, the bootstrap is a low-level signal that tells a receiver to decode and process wireless services multiplexed in a broadcast channel. It’s designed to be a very robust signal and detectable even at low signal levels,” explained Richer.

The bootstrap signal provides a universal entry point into a broadcast waveform. It employs a fixed configuration (such as sampling rate, signal bandwidth, subcarrier spacing and time-domain structure) known to all receiver devices and carries information to enable processing and decoding the wireless service associated with a detected bootstrap signal, as well as a flag which indicates that an Emergency Alert is in effect.

“Many other services, at least some of which have likely not yet even been conceived, could also be provided by a broadcaster and identified within a transmitted signal through the use of a bootstrap signal associated with each particular service. This new capability ensures that broadcast spectrum can be adapted to carry new services in the years ahead,” Richer said.

Upcoming Conferences Tackle ATSC 3.0 Developments

The Candidate Standard for the first part of the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer precedes next week’s ATSC 3.0 Boot Camp and 2015 ATSC Broadcast Television Conference, planned for May 13 and 14 at the Reagan International Commerce Center in Washington.

“The May 13 ATSC 3.0 Boot Camp will be an ideal place for a deep technical dive on the current status of the standardization effort, from Candidate Standards that will face real-world trials to remaining elements that must be investigated and evaluated as the full ATSC 3.0 standard is finalized this year,” Richer said. The business- and policy-focused May 14 ATSC Broadcast Television Conference, “Tune In to the Future,” will review how TV technology is evolving to better serve viewers, broadcasters, and related industries.

“As a standards-setting organization, we have scores of experts working now to set the standard for ATSC 3.0, the broadcast TV standard that over-the-air broadcasters will use to deliver new content, reach more viewers on the go, and enhance the viewing and listening experience with 4K Ultra HD video, immersive audio and mobile services. We fully expect ATSC 3.0 to be more flexible for broadcasters and more useful to a connected consumer,” Richer said.