At the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show in Las Vegas, NAB president Gordon Smith called ATSC 3.0 "the world's first broadcast standard that offers the advantages of broadcast and broadband." With next-gen TV, he said, "we see the seamless convergence of over-the-air and over-the-top," or internet-delivered, video services.There are still quite a few questions about the next wave of over-the-air TV broadcasts, including whether all of the new features will be offered to consumers free of charge. Here's what we know so far.
When our current over-the-air broadcast standard was developed more than two decades ago, few envisioned a world where higher-than-high-def TV signals would become commonplace, and people would expect to get the same content on smartphones and tablets that they did on a TV at home.
ATSC 3.0 is designed to bring over-the-air TV broadcasts into this future. It's being developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), the same international group of broadcasters, TV manufacturers, and other tech companies that established the HDTV standards in force today.
Right now, you can't get 4K video via over-the-air broadcasts. That will change with ATSC 3.0 because the new standard uses a more efficient video format, called HEVC or H.265, the same one used by streaming services such as Netflix. That will allow broadcasters to send data-heavy 4K video over the airwaves, along with other picture enhancements, such as HDR, which yields brighter images with greater contrast and highlights and richer, more saturated colors.
In addition, ATSC president Mark Richer says, the ATSC 3.0 signals will be "more reliable" than current over-air broadcasts, "which were designed 25 years ago for living-room viewing with an outdoor antenna." Reception should beat what you get with the current system, even if you're using a less powerful indoor antenna.
Even before the rules are finished, some broadcasters are pushing hard to prepare. "WRAL, an NBC affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina, has been testing ATSC 3.0 broadcasts since last year," Moore says. "And Sinclair, the largest owner of TV stations in the U.S., seems pretty aggressive about next-gen TV."
As a result, it's unlikely that 3.0 broadcasts will be widespread until later in 2018 and early 2019. And it could take far longer than that before the transition from ATSC 1.0 to ATSC 3.0 is completed.
During the transition, broadcasters will probably have to agree to share a common ATSC 1.0 channel in each market, at least for the foreseeable future. That will allow older TVs to continue getting over-the-air reception, albeit without any of the new features enabled by next-gen TV.
"Our position is that next-gen TV can and will be beneficial to consumers if implemented by the FCC in a measured and conscientious manner," he says. That could include making sure the current coverage areas are preserved as much as possible, not allowing broadcasters to downgrade the quality of ATSC 1.0 broadcasts from high to standard definition, and providing consumers with education on issues such as the timing of the transition and what new equipment they may need.
No TV maker would say just when that would begin, but LG already is including both ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 receivers in new TV it's shipping to consumers in Korea, the first country to begin ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.
Consumers Union and other groups say they will insist that consumers continue to have access to free over-the air high-definition TV reception. That fits the overall push to ensure that the FCC holds broadcasters to the same public interest obligations with ATSC 3.0 broadcasts they had with ATSC 1.0.
A: YES! With a TV antenna, you will experience HDTV in the highest quality picture and sound available. Over-the-air broadcasts are transmitted in uncompressed, crystal-clear 1080i, far surpassing what cable and satellite offer. Many local broadcasts are digitally aired in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, giving you the ultimate soundstage for watching live television from major networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, The CW, and many more. No tricks, no bills, no subscriptions. All you need is a TV antenna!
A: On our Transmitter Locator page, once you have entered your zip code, you will find a complete list of the channels available in your area. The list will indicate your distance from the transmitter tower which broadcasts that channel, whether the channel is UHF or VHF, as well as the precise heading to aim your antenna. The Virtual Channel column represents the channel displayed on the television. The DTV Channel column represents the actual transmitting frequency. A list of broadcast towers, as well as their distance from your location, is also available on our free Antenna Point app.
One potential problem with re-using low VHF (2-6) and high VHF (7-13) TV channels for DTV is the possibility of interference from other signals during certain times of the year. "Skip" may bring in distant broadcasts on the same channel and create interference. Low VHF (2-6) digital broadcasts are particularly prone to interference and are often hard to receive reliably, regardless of what model of antenna is used. Note: The physical size of low VHF and high VHF antennas is much larger than that of a UHF antenna.
The new transmission standard for over-the-air channels has been in development for many years with the first limited tests ongoing in Phoenix, Arizona, Dallas, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland, East Lansing, Michigan, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Santa Barbara, California. Promising better reception, 4K HDR video support, Dolby Atmos and DTS-X support, on-demand video, and more, ATSC 3.0 is being spearheaded by broadcast television station groups as well as public broadcasters.
The FCC is requiring the simulcast rule until at least early 2023. However, that date could get pushed back further. In the meantime, because of the high costs associated with simulcasting, public TV is hoping to receive an exemption from the FCC on these rules. If granted, this could mean that public stations could be the first broadcasts to embrace the change.
The ATSC standards were developed in the early 1990s by the Grand Alliance, a consortium of electronics and telecommunications companies that assembled to develop a specification for what is now known as HDTV. The standard is now administered by the Advanced Television Systems Committee. It includes a number of patented elements, and licensing is required for devices that use these parts of the standard. Key among these is the 8VSB modulation system used for over-the-air broadcasts. ATSC[clarification needed] technology was primarily developed with patent contributions from LG Electronics, which holds most of the patents for the ATSC standard.
Dolby Digital AC-3 is used as the audio codec, though it was standardized as A/52 by the ATSC. It allows the transport of up to five channels of sound with a sixth channel for low-frequency effects (the so-called "5.1" configuration). In contrast, Japanese ISDB HDTV broadcasts use MPEG's Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) as the audio codec, which also allows 5.1 audio output. DVB (see below) allows both.
A terrestrial (over-the-air) transmission carries 19.39 megabits of data per second (a fluctuating bandwidth of about 18.3 Mbit/s left after overhead such as error correction, program guide, closed captioning, etc.), compared to a maximum possible MPEG-2 bitrate of 10.08 Mbit/s (7 Mbit/s typical) allowed in the DVD standard and 48 Mbit/s (36 Mbit/s typical) allowed in the Blu-ray disc standard.
The file extension ".TS" stands for "transport stream", which is a media container format. It may contain a number of streams of audio or video content multiplexed within the transport stream. Transport streams are designed with synchronization and recovery in mind for potentially lossy distribution (such as over-the-air ATSC broadcast) in order to continue a media stream with minimal interruption in the face of data loss in transmission. When an over-the-air ATSC signal is captured to a file via hardware/software the resulting file is often in a .TS file format.
To simplify it, a TV antenna is a collection of specially arranged wires or metal elements designed to pick up broadcast signals from TV networks. HDTV antennas receive television broadcasts via electromagnetic signals and translate them into video and audio to display whatever programming you want to watch.
Even better: while some cable networks will compress their signals for efficiency, local broadcasts transmit uncompressed signals, so you receive the highest quality audio and visual. About 90% of all households can pick up at least 5 local stations freely using an HDTV antenna.
One misconception is that this ruling will affect every method of transmitting broadcast channels. This ruling only affects broadcast channels offered via cable service; it does not affect the availability of free, over-the-air HDTV channels. HDTVs generally have two types of internal tuner: the Clear-QAM tuner for cable and the ATSC tuner for over-the-air HD. If your cable company chooses to encrypt all of its digital channels, then your TV's Clear-QAM tuner will no longer be able to tune them in, but that will not affect the ATSC tuner. You could still connect an HD antenna and tune in free over-the-air channels - basically, the same channels I mentioned above (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, PBS, and other local channels).
ATSC 3.0 is the first major update to over-the-air (OTA) TV technology since the transition from analog to digital broadcasting in the early 2000s. The new format promises 4K video, immersive audio, and several other benefits.
The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) develops the technical standards for over-the-air TV broadcasts. Members come from the ranks of several industries, including broadcasters, broadcasting equipment makers, and TV manufacturers. 2b1af7f3a8