Posted on July 18, 2016 in ATSC News
Joel Wilhite, senior systems design engineer at Harmonic, has been involved with the ATSC for more than a decade. He’s been heavily involved with the broadcast community since 1995 when he started his career with DiviCom (now Harmonic) as an engineer testing code and systems for deployments.
Wilhite’s career began at a fiber-to-the-curb start-up that built test systems and customer configurations in a lab in Menlo Park, Calif., which was eventually acquired by Ericsson. But, his education in the field started as a child.
“My roots were started in the phone industry because of my father who worked for United Telephone and later, Harris Digital Telephone Systems,” says Wilhite. “He would bring home equipment when I was child and let us play on it making phone calls, taking apart the equipment and tinkering with the components.”
From Frying Pan into the Fire
Wilhite was participating in ATSC 3.0 work in a supporting role through October 2015 when Pat Waddell announced his retirement from Harmonic. Just 24 hours after his departure, Wilhite received a call asking him to represent the company.
“From the frying pan into the fire, I jumped in to find a great group of people and organizations at the ATSC working diligently to run the process of delivering the outcomes of a trusted SDO (standards development organization),” he says. “Many of our mutual customers welcomed me, and I’ve since made many new friends and re-acquainted myself with many old friends in the ATSC.”
Wilhite represents Harmonic as a corporate partner/sponsor to ATSC and sits on both the TG1 and TG3 plenary groups. And he also follows, with great interest, the work being performed in the S32 specialists group.
“I’m fascinated with transmission characteristics (KD6W), the S33 delivery mechanisms and work flow, obviously the S34 video and audio groups as we are directly involved with compression technology and the products to support them, as well as the S35 Ecosystem and S36 Security groups,” he said. “I also attend and support the efforts in the TG3-8 group for MVPD delivery.”
Night and Day
Although it’s not backward compatible, Wilhite believes ATSC 3.0 will have a “dramatic” impact on broadcasting and, with a leap of faith, will usher in a whole new era for broadcasters.
“Fortunately ATSC 3.0 is a great parachute as this suite of standards provides a number of new services never possible before and so the differences between the 3.0 and 1.0 standards are literally night and day,” he says.
“Now with the advent of much denser and lower-power electronics and blazing fast Internet connectivity, the ATSC 3.0 body of standards comes at a time where Moore’s law has caught up processing technology to the point where we can run just about everything in the broadcast industry (except the camera optics and display output) on commodity hardware.
“I’m just wondering when Scotty will beam me up. Maybe Elon Musk is working on it and we just didn’t know.”
Hiking and Hacking at Home
Wilhite and his wife have been married for 17 years and have a teenage son. He and his son like to go camping at some of California’s great parks and Joel and his wife spend much of our free time working on things around or on the house in Menlo Park.
But, even outside of work, he likes to stay keeps busy with technology.
“I love hacking on technology and have my FCC Amateur Extra license KD6W. I just finished putting up a new DMR repeater system for our club (PAARA.org) up in the east bay hills overlooking all of Silicon Valley with a pattern reaching into the Marin headlands and as far south at Gilroy covering just short of 3 million people,” he said.
One of his dearest passions is competing in the “ARRL 10GHz and Up” contest every year in August and September.
“I have built my own equipment needed to operate in that contest and have come in second place worldwide in the 10 GHz-Only category twice,” he said. “Now I’m working on adding 24 GHz, 47 GHz and 80 GHz equipment to my arsenal.”
Posted in ATSC News
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The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC also develops digital terrestrial broadcasting implementation strategies and supports educational activities on ATSC standards.