Broadcasters, Tech Companies Putting ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer Candidate Standard Technologies Through Paces

Standard_ATSC_3Broadcasters and technology companies are already putting core technologies in the new ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer Candidate Standard through their paces – with experimental broadcasts in three states, the District of Columbia and half way around the world.


In Washington and Baltimore, ONE Media is launching experimental broadcasts that will include the first single frequency network (SFN) implementations using base elements of the new transmission Candidate Standard.

The full-power, multi-site test platform using channel 43 in both markets will deploy a full range of next-generation services that include fixed, portable and mobile capabilities.  The test broadcasts are being designed to provide real-time assessments of quality of service using the new Internet Protocol-based Physical Layer Candidate Standard, according to ONE Media. 

Testing will be performed by ONE Media and Samsung Electronics under a collaborative agreement among Sinclair Broadcast Group (ONE Media’s parent company), Pearl TV and Samsung.  This facility also is expected to support the broader needs of the ATSC development community.

“This first-of-its-kind SFN platform will help drive an understanding of the value new tools bring to broadcasting,” stated Kevin Gage, ONE Media’s Executive VP of Strategic Development and CTO. “We intend this new platform to be a place where the broadcast industry can unite to launch new and exciting consumer and B2B products and services.” 

The SFN facilities are designed to prove-out the highly anticipated capabilities of the broadcast transmission Candidate Standard including demonstrating the transmission of separate program elements using the same channel in two adjacent markets.  Among other things, the SFN will permit broadcasters to “zone” programming and advertising to discrete parts of a station’s market using the same channel. 


Leading Korean broadcaster SBS just conducted the first live over-the-air broadcast in Seoul of 4K Ultra HD signals using technologies behind the transmission Candidate Standard. Youngsoo Park, SBS Chief Technology Officer, said this marks the first time ATSC 3.0 broadcasting technologies have been successfully tested in Korea. “This is significant achievement in realizing the feasibility of new broadcasting technology and an important first step in preparation for next year’s test transmissions here.”

In collaboration with LG Electronics, SBS successfully demonstrated transmission and reception of 4K UHD and HD mobile signals simultaneously in a single 6-MHz channel as well as capability to receive HD mobile signals in a fast-moving vehicle.  “Test broadcasts like this show how tech companies and broadcasters around the world already are working to drive adoption of next-generation broadcasting technology,” said LG President and CTO Dr. Skott Ahn.


Last month’s landmark Korean broadcast comes on the heels of field tests in the United States conducted by local broadcasters and ATSC members GatesAir, LG and Zenith.

In Cleveland, Tribune Broadcasting’s WJW-TV is providing a TV transmitter, tower and 6-MHz channel for the ATSC 3.0-related field testing being conducted there since mid-May. To date, more than 75,000 pieces of data collected by engineers there show how ATSC 3.0 will be able to deliver 4K Ultra HD content and two robust mobile TV streams in a single 6-Megahertz channel, while optimizing indoor reception and spectrum efficiency. Expert viewers there also have witnessed how the more robust new TV system will attract mobile viewers, connect viewers with Internet content and reach those in difficult reception locations.

“We’re pleased to play an integral role in the future of TV broadcast technology, putting an unused transmitter and vacant channel to use so that the proposed transmission system could be tested throughout the day and night. These initial field test results show that ATSC 3.0 technologies are real and can deliver real benefits to broadcasters and viewers alike,” said Bill Van Duynhoven, Tribune Broadcasting’s Director of Engineering Operations.

Similar field tests were conducted last year in Madison with overnight experimental broadcasts by Quincy Group’s WKOW-TV.  These tests collected nearly 50,000 pieces of data from scores of reception sites including challenging reception areas inside buildings, in fast-moving vehicles and at locations ranging from downtown to 50 miles from the transmitter.