10 More ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standards
On the heels of approving the ATSC 3.0 transmission system Physical Layer Candidate Standard, TG3, the Technology Group responsible for next-generation broadcast standards, approved four more ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standards – for electronic service guides, second-screen services, and video and audio watermarks.
TG3 members also will be voting this month on ballots to elevate six additional subsystems, including video encoding, Internet Protocol transport and closed captioning to Candidate Standard status. A few remaining ATSC 3.0 subsystems, including audio, security and interactive capabilities, are expected to be balloted for TG3 voting as Candidate Standards in early 2016.
The 10 additional standards in the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards moving toward Candidate Standard status this month cap a milestone year in the development of next-gen television broadcasting. With these latest Candidate Standards, the lion’s share of the overall ATSC 3.0 standard will be in place, as planned, by year-end.
The four freshly-minted Candidate Standards are Companion Device, Service Announcement, Video Watermark and Audio Watermark:
- SECOND-SCREEN SERVICES. The Companion Device Candidate Standard (A/338), which enables second-screen viewing, explains the communication between a “primary” device (typically a television) and a “companion” device (second screen, such as a tablet or smartphone). This candidate standard will allow moving interactivity from the primary screen to the companion device and providing additional services related to and synchronized with the broadcast.
- ELECTRONIC SERVICE GUIDES. The Service Announcement Candidate Standard (A/332) describes encoding and transport of metadata used to create Electronic Service Guides. This will allow viewers to see an onscreen interactive listing of services offered by broadcasters.
- ENABLING ENHANCED SERVICES. The Video Watermark (A/335) and Audio Watermark (A/334) Candidate Standards provide a means for broadcasters to insert metadata information into the video signal to send information for interactive services to ATSC 3.0 television receivers connected to multichannel video programming distributors.
The six subsystems beginning the Candidate Standard balloting process this month are: 1) Video Encoding, 2) Signaling, Delivery, Synchronization and Error Protection, 3) Captions and Subtitles, 4) Link Layer Protocol, 5) Service Usage Reporting, and 6) Audio/Video Watermark Payload:
- The A/341 Video standard specifies how to encode video in the ATSC 3.0 system. It uses HEVC (H.265) video compression, the latest MPEG video coding standard, and provides support for 4K Ultra HDTV as well as future capabilities for transmission of information to enable wider color gamut, higher frame rates and high dynamic range.
- The A/331 Signaling, Delivery, Synchronization and Error Protection standard represents the Internet Protocol (IP) based transport system for data/content in the ATSC 3.0 system, as well as the signaling metadata necessary for the receiver to assemble the services into a coherent whole. Support is provided for broadcast, broadband and hybrid delivery) as well as synchronization mechanisms.
- The A/343 Captions and Subtitles standard covers how to encode and carry closed captioning. Captioning is treated and carried as a component of the television service. It is based on technology from W3C (IMSC1, similar to SMPTE Timed Text)
- The A/330 Link Layer Protocol standard deals with how to package data from the transport layer into packets that are carried in the physical layer frames. It supports encapsulation of IP Packets, MPEG-2 TS packets and other future packet types.
- The A/333 Service Usage Reporting standard defines enhanced audience measurement techniques, specifically the option to encapsulate and transport information about viewer usage of services from the receiver to the broadcaster.
- The A/336 Audio/Video Watermark Payload standard describes the types and encoding of information and metadata carried in the audio and video watermarks.
Now that ATSC 3.0’s core technologies have been defined, broadcast and consumer equipment manufacturers can proceed with confidence in building prototype gear to test and demonstrate the capabilities of next-gen broadcast television next year.