Candidate Standard Season Kickoff

Mark Richer

September ushers in the Fall Season … the Back-to-School Season … the Football Season … the new Network TV Season. For ATSC, September 2015 ushers in the Candidate Standard Season!

In a significant, very timely development, members of the TG3 Technology Group are now in the process of voting on the main elements that comprise the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer transmission standard. If approved in four weeks, the TG3 ballot issued on Aug. 31, will move the Physical Layer to Candidate Standard status by the end of this month. (A small but important piece, the “System Discovery and Signaling (bootstrap),” is already an ATSC Candidate Standard (A321).

The “ATSC Working Draft: S32 Physical Layer Standard” (S32-230r19) is the result of thousands of person-hours of hard work over the past two years, with increasingly intensive activity this year. Numerous organizations can take great pride in their contributions to the optimization of the physical layer’s many sub-parts such as modulation, payload, error correction and so on. 

Special thanks go to S32 Physical Layer Specialist Group Chairman Luke Fay of Sony and TG3 Chairman Rich Chernock of Triveni Digital for their leadership in driving the consensus process moving this first major portion of the suite of ATSC 3.0 standards toward Candidate Standard.

The impending Physical Layer Candidate Standard is timely in a number of ways.  First, it will provide the basis for a “plug fest” next month, hosted by NERC in Shanghai where ATSC member organizations may put early transmission and receiving equipment through their paces. Second, it provides a strong foundation for the industry to begin considering the launch of next-generation television broadcasting. And finally, it helps kickstart manufacturers to begin developing prototype ATSC 3.0 equipment.

Looking ahead to demonstrations expected as soon as the 2016 CES and NAB trade shows, receiver manufacturers are embracing ATSC 3.0. In this issue of THE STANDARD, ATSC board member and CEA Senior VP Brian Markwalter updates us on the CEA Technology & Standards working group that’s defining receiver parameters for next-generation broadcasting.

Development and documentation of other standards for ATSC 3.0 also are continuing a pace.  For example, a lot of resources are being devoted to the audio subsystem. Testing of proponent systems was a great success and gives us confidence that ATSC 3.0 will have excellent audio capabilities. ATSC experts are still in discussions about the best path forward, which I expect will be sorted out over the next month or two.

Our goal remains to get most if not all of the suite of standards comprising ATSC 3.0 to Candidate Standard status by the end of the year. Indeed, this is a challenging timeline to meet but positive feedback from our various TG3 working groups and ad hoc groups makes me very optimistic that this goal is achievable.

Mark Richer
ATSC President