NEWSBITES: ATSC 3.0 @ NAB NY
“Start spreadin’ the news… New York, New York.” ATSC 3.0 was the talk of the Big Apple at the NAB Show New York in October. Here’s Consumer Electronics Daily’s comprehensive coverage of Next Gen TV related news before, during and after the show (reprinted with permission):
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS DAILY – OCTOBER 15, 2019
‘Early Success’ in 2020 Critical for ATSC 3.0,
and ‘We Need to Build on That,’ Says Noland
ATSC’s goal at NAB Show New York is “keeping the momentum going” for ATSC 3.0, “but also education,” which is why the “theme” of ATSC’s booth will be “Get Ready!” President Madeleine Noland told us. As the 3.0 deployment gets closer, industry professionals responsible for the implementation are bound to have “a lot of questions,” she said.
ATSC member company volunteers—“experts in the standard”—will be “available in the booth at all times to answer questions,” said Noland. “The folks who are facing implementation right away are going to have a new set of questions as the reality becomes closer and closer. We’re there to help.”
NAB Show New York attendees typically are “people who have not been sitting in the standards meetings all this time,” said Noland. “Our hope is that we’re going to have some folks who are New York residents from the major networks, people who have questions about content production and using the great new tool that 3.0 offers.”
ATSC also is producing a panel at the show on 3.0 content production and protection, said Noland. ATSC expects “to get questions from all over the industry—questions from people who are interested in the business side,” or from professionals interested in “transition” issues like channel-sharing, she said. “We think it’s going to span the gamut.”
Noland doubts “anybody on the Earth” can anticipate every 3.0 question that will come ATSC’s way at the show, “but we’re certainly trying,” she said. “We recognize there are folks from sales, folks from general management, folks from news and production.”
ATSC is “very, very much focused and committed to supporting this 3.0 launch,” said Noland. “When I called for volunteers and asked, ‘Hey, can you please help us out here?’ we were very pleased with the response from the membership.”
The ATSC team expects that 3.0-compliant consumer products will be displayed “on the show floor at CES” in January, said Noland. The NextGen TV logo program was announced (see 1909260021), “which we’re very excited about,” and the logo licensing program “is underway,” she said. “ATSC is going to have a presence at CES, with some road map-type stuff, pointing to all the 3.0 products that are available to be seen at the various booths.”
Noland believes 3.0 “success in 2020 at an initial level is going to be important,” she said. “In putting out new services, there needs to be good acceptance of those services, and good performance on the part of the television sets that are receiving those services, and growing it from there.” In 2020, 3.0 will be “just out of the starting gate, so we need to have some early success, and we need to build on that,” she said.
“As you go through this process, and you talk to all the stakeholders and everybody who has put in tons of time, you realize that launching next-gen TV is a massive undertaking,” said Noland. “There are lots of moving parts, so we are very excited to see everything coming together for 2020 in the U.S. It’s just amazing watching all this stuff come together.”
If the 3.0 launch “can be done” successfully, “it will be done,” said Noland. All ATSC stakeholders are “laser-focused, and on our way,” she said. “That goes for the broadcasters, for the networks, for the TV makers, for the ATSC membership. There’s no doubt about the focus.”
Noland travels Monday to the India Mobile Congress in New Delhi as a guest of the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India, which participates in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project standardization body for 5G, she said. She will speak at the conference about 3.0 and 5G “convergence, and how that all works,” she said. That convergence “will be exciting” for India, she said. “They have 1.2 billion cellphones, so there are opportunities there that are unique to that country.”
ATSC estimates about 20 exhibitors showing 3.0 products will be at NAB Show New York. The ATSC exhibit will emphasize the 60-plus U.S. markets that expect to be on the air with 3.0 services by the end of 2020. The show opens Wednesday at the Javits Convention Center for a two-day run. — Paul Gluckman
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS DAILY – OCTOBER 16, 2019
‘Very Collaborative Environment’
TV Makers ‘in Lockstep’ With Broadcasters
To Launch ATSC 3.0 in 2020, Says Pearl’s Schelle
Pearl TV and its partners in the ATSC 3.0 Phoenix model-market project will use this week’s NAB Show New York to showcase publicly for the first time the common “application framework” they developed and hope to promote as an open industry standard for 3.0’s nationwide deployment, Pearl Managing Director Anne Schelle told us. The framework “gives the CEs comfort that when they sell a television set in Chicago, the consumer experience on their set will be the same in Charlotte,” said Schelle of consumer electronics makers.
TV stations within the framework “support a shared broadcaster application to deliver a consistent OTA consumer experience,” said Pearl. “Broadcasters share a common software framework to consistently support any 3.0-ready receiver.” Each TV “has the runtime and supports the broadcaster framework and business models,” said Pearl. “Broadcaster-controlled cloud services manage the application and content.”
Having a consistent 3.0 consumer user experience is “hugely important” to the set makers, said Schelle. “We’ve been focused on the basic television service as a starting point” for the 3.0 deployment in 2020, she said. That will be “just the first round of feature availability,” she said. “We’ll continue to develop feature functionality with the CEs during 2020, but we’ll be able to launch with a set of capabilities and features and services that they’re interested in.” The feature set will be a “motivator” for consumers “to go out and purchase a new television set,” she said.
Pearl will demonstrate the common framework on prototype devices from LG, Samsung and Sony at the ATSC booth on the show’s main floor, said Schelle. LG TVs use the webOS operating system, while Tizen is Samsung’s OS and Android is Sony’s, she said. “The framework needs to work with all three,” she said. “We’ll be demonstrating the Phoenix application framework that was incubated with the three TV manufacturers that we are opening up to the industry to be able to use.”
Think of the application framework as “our operating system for NEXTGEN TV,” said Schelle. The application is received over the air and “it’s riding on top” of the individual set-makers’ operating systems, she said. “When you tune to a 3.0 TV channel, then you’ve launched this application.” The rationale for putting on the demos this week is “to show the industry the importance of an open common framework like this that’s light enough so it gets accepted by the CEs,” she said. “You can’t do something that’s burdensome to the CEs.”
Broadcasters are taking the posture of “let’s crawl before we walk before we run” in launching 3.0 services in 2020, said Schelle. “You’re going to see some of the core elements that are meaningful to consumers to start to move TV sets out.” As time goes on, 3.0 “gets better and better as you add more features on,” she said. “These features that we add on, from the TV side, are simply software updates.”
The three TV makers involved in the demos were “early” to 3.0 and “they’ve got advantages” in the work they did in South Korea or during the standardization process, said Schelle. On additional TV brand support, “you’ve got the Chinese manufacturers right behind them, and other manufacturers that are well known in the marketplace that tend to be fast followers,” she said. She has no doubts additional TV brands beyond LG, Samsung and Sony will jump in with 3.0 support “post-2020.”
Broadcasters are “gearing up” for 2020 and TV makers are “in lockstep with us,” said Schelle. “It’s a very collaborative environment to launch in 2020, from understanding the consumer, to the receiver manufacturer, to the receiver itself, to the service, to all the infrastructure that needs to support those services.”
Engineers in Phoenix under the direction of Chief Technology Officer Dave Folsom produced a 105-page “host station manual” as a “how-to guide” for broadcasters seeking to make the leap into 3.0, said Schelle. “TV manufacturers have a conformance program” through CTA for assuring peak 3.0 receiver performance, she said. “On the broadcast side, this is our way of making recommendations,” she said, helping the industry “establish a baseline for 3.0 services.” Pearl is “gifting” the manual to the industry through downloads from its own website and that of the Phoenix project, she said.
Adding a second transmission site will make Phoenix the “first two-stick market” for 3.0, said Schelle. The two sites will power a single-frequency network that’s “an opportunity for us to continue to test automotive” use cases for 3.0, she said. The second transmission site and the SFN “both are built,” but “we need to get final authorization from the FCC to turn it on,” she said. — Paul Gluckman
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS DAILY – OCTOBER 17, 2019
CES As TV ‘Launchpad’
Pearl TV Members ‘Meeting Our Mark’
On ATSC 3.0’s 2020 Rollout, Says Schelle
Pearl TV has an ATSC 3.0 “rollout plan for 2020” that includes launching services in 61 markets by the end of next year, and has “shared that” with TV makers LG, Samsung and Sony, Managing Director Anne Schelle told the TV2020 conference at NAB Show New York. “We are meeting our mark in terms of enabling these services on a market-to-market basis.”
There’s a chance that 3.0 receiver “dongles” will be sold on Amazon in 2020, “but we really care about the big manufacturers coming in,” said Schelle. Pearl will transmit a “simulcast stream that’s in the new Nextgen TV service standard,” she said. “When you buy a television set, what will happen when you turn to the OTA portion of the set, you will get the application and you’ll start watching that channel. It will be enhanced. You can do things that you can’t do on your 1.0.” Consumers “will also get all of their 1.0 at the same time,” she said.
CES 2020 will be the “launchpad” for 3.0 TVs in the U.S., said John Taylor, LG Electronics USA senior vice president-public affairs and communications, speaking as chair of CTA’s Video Division board, not on LG’s behalf. “We expect a variety of manufacturers to have a range of sets on the market.”
The board expects to see “real working sets” on the CES show floor in January for delivery in the industry’s customary “spring-summer time frame,” said Taylor. The Nextgen TV logo that CTA fashioned under the board’s supervision (see 1909260021) will “help consumers understand when they go out to purchase these sets what they are,” he said. “The messaging behind that is still being worked on in cooperation with broadcasters.”
When broadcasters move to 3.0, “we now have a much more sophisticated set of tools to address the complicated markets that we’re in within the core business,” said Spectrum Co President John Hane. “The ATSC 1.0 platform is not going to take us very much further in the core business. The market is evolving beyond it.”
Every service provider “that is large and sophisticated in this economy is constantly tweaking its offering with very fine gradations to see what the consumer and revenue responses are,” said Hane. Broadcasters using 1.0, by comparison, are “binary,” he said. “We have no tools to tweak anything to learn what works and what does not work. We’re really sort of flying blind with rough measurement, lousy indirect data.”
In exploring possible new 3.0 business opportunities, Spectrum Co is “looking at a lot,” including “adjacent opportunities in media distribution,” said Hane. “Some of the things that intrigue me are those services that require a fairly low data rate, but have much higher value on a per-bit basis.”
Pearl sees 3.0 as “a tremendously flexible platform,” said Schelle. “It’s a new OS for broadcasters and it does have the ability to enable content-security protection, which allows for different models that we can’t do today.” Broadcasters “don’t know where things are going to be necessarily in five years with our various distribution partnerships,” she said. “This platform allows us to, overnight, change that.”
Schelle pegs the cost for Pearl to launch 3.0 in 61 markets by the end of 2020 at a relatively modest $72 million, she said. “Back in 1995, when I was a founder of American Personal Communications and we built out the first digital wireless system in D.C., it was $150 million,” she said. “So we’re getting a big pipe going in 61 markets” for just “pennies on the dollar to get into a video-distribution IP business,” she said.
The $72 million is “a pretty real number,” said Schelle. “Broadcasters are utilizing existing infrastructure” to transition to 3.0, she said. “They have towers in the ground. With the repack, they were provided with upgradable transmitters that are easily upgraded to 3.0. So in terms of getting into the business and getting things started, it’s not a significant expend.”
Public Media Group, the venture that 31 public broadcasters and Osborn Engineering formed earlier this year with a $5 billion war chest from Blackstone and other investors, plans San Francisco as its first 3.0 market, said CEO Joe Chinnici. PMG’s business model is to build 3.0 infrastructure and lease it to TV stations that want to transition to 3.0 without building the infrastructure themselves, he said.
PMG is focusing first on “the real property infrastructure,” said Chinnici. “The second area is in the software infrastructure,” he said. To “execute” 3.0, “you need to be able to manage your content,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of time in the software-infrastructure layer.” PMG expects to begin its San Francisco buildout in Q1, he said. PMG told FCC Media Bureau staff Oct. 10 it thinks its efforts will help “facilitate nationwide market transitions” to 3.0, said a notice Tuesday in docket 16-142. — Paul Gluckman
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS DAILY – OCTOBER 18, 2019
South Korea ATSC 3.0 EAS Similar to AWARN Plans
South Korea launched an emergency alert system using ATSC 3.0, similar to enhanced alerts advocated by the Advanced Warning and Response Network Alliance, said executives from South Korean firm DigiCap and AWARN Executive Director John Lawson at NAB New York. The system has been in place for a month and so far transmits emergency messages similar to those using established technology. Lawson and DigiCap CEO Peter Han were optimistic it will lead to further developments in the U.S. and South Korea. “Beginning is halfway done,” said Han, quoting a Korean proverb. “If you never start, you never finish.”
South Korean advanced EAS feeds emergency information largely to outdoor screens in public areas or in subways and buses, said DigiCap Vice President Joonyoung Park. It doesn’t yet include home TVs but is planned to, Park said. The system has the ability to transmit rich media and transmit geotargeted alerts, but Han told us launch hasn’t extended to responders, limiting additional information that can be provided. The system is in Seoul now, and will extend to five more cities by 2020, Han said. The system is intended to provide information that’s complementary to what’s dispensed through other channels, Park said.
Geotargeted alerts are important because they allow a reduction in over-alerting, Lawson said. Emergency alerting professionals say over-alerting is the biggest issue with the current system, Lawson said.
It’s helpful for AWARN’s U.S. efforts to have “facts on the ground,” Lawson said. Focusing on outdoor displays is “brilliant,” Lawson said, and AWARN focuses on “home gateways.” Asked if the system contributed to emergency response in South Korea, Park said there’s not enough data.
South Korea has had a great deal of government involvement and support for its 3.0 transition, while the U.S. is pursuing a light touch, Han and Lawson said. AWARN is an “experiment” to “see if the private sector can come together to create a public service around new technology,” Lawson said. “We are on a slightly different track.”
“You guys are a little behind,” Han told the crowd. “Move forward faster.” — Monty Tayloe
‘Steady Stream’ of ATSC 3.0 License Applications
Expected in 2020, Says Schelle
Expect a “bunch” of ATSC 3.0 commercial license applications to be filed at the FCC by mid-December from stations seeking to begin 3.0 services in January, Pearl TV Managing Director Anne Schelle told us.
“The work actually started back in the spring,” she said. “Business partnerships don’t happen overnight. There’s a lot happening that’s not really seen. When the application is filed, it means basically everything is done.” She expects a “steady stream” of applications will “start to come in” throughout 2020, as broadcasters fulfill their goal of activating 3.0 services in 61 U.S. markets.
The commission “has done a great job” with the 3.0 commercial license program since it started collecting applications in May (see 1905230065), said Schelle. It typically approves a license within 10 days, she said. “I can’t say enough about the Media Bureau and their support for the industry when those applications come in.” —PG