Posted on May 6, 2021 in ATSC News
ATSC Board Member Jim DeChant, vice president of Technology at News-Press & Gazette Broadcasting, and Kelly Williams, vice president of Engineering & Technology Policy at the National Association of Broadcasters, sat down with THE STANDARD to explain what’s happening with the latest round of ATSC 3.0 interoperability testing –for the first time, an entirely virtual approach.
DeChant: “The goals of the current Inter-Op process are normalizing features and functionality across multiple consumer devices and to facilitate consumer adoption of ATSC 3.0. The approach is different due to the virtualization of the process and the ability to work through test ‘vectors’ individually over time versus ‘all in one week’ as was common during an ‘in person’ event.”
Williams: “We had to virtualize the process for two reasons. First, due to COVID-19, it was impossible for everyone who might want to participate to travel to the U.S. or even some domestic travel. Second, one of the constraints we found with previous Inter-Ops was that we had to stick to a specific schedule in order to get through all of the test scenarios planned, for example, in one week. By virtualizing the Inter-Op we are able to accommodate the multiple time zones for all participants and can keep a specific test scenario running as long as needed until all participants collectively agree that we’re ready to move to the next test.”
DeChant: “Obviously, ATSC itself is involved as are many other companies that span the ecosystem from signal creation solutions to transmission equipment vendors to receiver manufacturers. Other companies would like to join the event and will be enlisted as we move forward in our process.
Williams: “We’ve also been honored to have past ATSC Lechner Award honoree Mike Dolan as an active participant. In terms of phases, we put together a testing road map that focuses on topics that are of immediate importance as broadcasters launched their NEXTGEN TV stations. For example, we’re testing Closed Captions, Audio Description, Electronic Service Guides, program ratings, content replacement, and more.”
DeChant: “There’s no defined end date, and we may expand to other locations like the NAB Lab, OneMedia Lab, and others.”
Williams: “That’s right. There’s no defined end date. This is the beauty of a virtualized Inter-Op. As a group we can set the schedule and the priorities to allow participants to conduct whatever analysis is necessary and spend as much time as needed to work through any issues.”
DeChant: “I think this needs to be defined by the industry. It’s ongoing from my view, with an expansion to additional locations down the road.”
Williams: “This is planned to be ongoing. Although I imagine we will take a break at some point in the summer. We’d very definitely like to include other locations (and emission sources), such as OneMedia’s lab, so we could perhaps exercise some MPEG Media Transport test scenarios.”
DeChant: “We’ve learned that virtual Inter-Op events are possible and useful. Narrowing and focusing activities have allowed companies that make emission and reception equipment to have the time needed to identify and refine their process. Ongoing events will be helpful to vet and refine future features. There is great value in providing a catalog of validated test materials for future receiver and emissions equipment testing.”
Williams: “First and foremost, the Inter-Op validates that ATSC 3 works well. We’ve also learned the thing that everyone knows — that the devil is in the details — particularly with respect to DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) construction. So far, we’ve learned a lot with regard to encoding and displaying closed captions that will prove invaluable to the industry.”
Posted in ATSC News
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