CHAT ROOM: On the Road to ATSC 3.0 – Literally

In the Chat Room this month, THE STANDARD sat down with Dr. Jong Kim, who chairs the ATSC Planning Team 5 (PT5) on ATSC 3.0 Automotive Applications. An ATSC Board member, he is Senior Vice President at LG Electronics and President of the Zenith R&D Lab, and a long-time player in advanced television going back to the ATSC 1.0 days. At the 2019 Next Gen TV Conference, we asked Dr. Kim to bring us up to date on what’s happening with ATSC 3.0 in the automotive arena.

THE STANDARD: What’s the mission of PT5, and how’s it going? Making some progress?

KIM: Officially, our mission is to assess opportunities and challenges related to delivery of ATSC 3.0 services to vehicles, consider technical and market requirements for both B2B and B2C applications, and evaluate ATSC 3’s capabilities versus those of complementary, competing technologies. Unofficially, it’s really all about how to get automakers to embrace 3.0 and integrate it into vehicles.

And, yes, I think we’re making progress – with over 20 ATSC members getting together regularly to work on a wide range of related issues, from business models to network security. And good ongoing discussions with automotive OEMs are under way.

THE STANDARD: Much of the Next Gen TV industry focus has been, understandably, on consumer television applications.  What are some of ATSC 3.0’s most compelling B2B-applications, specifically related to the automotive industry?

KIM: Mobile video for backseat viewing, even in the front seat in autonomous cars, is definitely a priority. But many other things like map data and firmware updates are very interesting to automakers. Some of them are seeing lots of value in advanced emergency information, and together with the AWARN Alliance, ATSC is helping automakers understand how Next Gen broadcasting can deliver targeted multimedia emergency messages.

Cars are basically big connected mobile devices, and data is the main driver, so to speak. That’s why I think there are huge vehicular ATSC 3.0 opportunities for broadcasters and chipmakers.

THE STANDARD: Jong, it sounds like ATSC (with Pearl TV and others) had a very successful ATSC 3.0 Automotive Symposium in Detroit in May.  Tell us please about the feedback from automakers.

KIM: The symposium was terrific – a great introduction of ATSC 3.0 to the automotive community. We heard that the automakers who attended (including GM, Ford and Honda) found it very valuable and good starting point.

I think there were a number of take-aways.  First, we’re hearing from automotive OEMs that their 2022 model year is already frozen.  They’re working now on 2023 and beyond – just think about the nationwide reach of ATSC 3.0 broadcasting by then.

Second, there are more questions than answers at this stage.  How can ATSC 3.0 deliver robust data to vehicles in a more reliable, cost-effective way than, say, 5G? How can they do hands-on testing and evaluations of chips and antennas and so on – soon?  How do you secure the transmission?  They need good encryption to prevent hacking. The good news is our flexible standard addresses these and more.

Finally, it’s clear that there’s strong interest in ATSC 3 by major automakers. The fact that Next Gen TV is going on the air in Detroit next April is a very positive development for our work with the auto industry.