Rewinding to IBC: ATSC 3.0 On the Agenda

A primarily European audience at the IBC Show in Amsterdam had a chance to see some of the world-leading capabilities of ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV during the annual broadcast business event last month.

“ATSC 3.0 was often cited during conference discussions. Its advanced capabilities to deliver 1080p and UHD resolutions, HDR (high dynamic range) formats and even HFR (higher frame rates) represent a tremendous advance that will carry broadcasting into the next generation of advanced video formats,” according to ATSC Board member Glenn Reitmeier of NBC Universal.

 He reports that ATSC 3.0 was well presented in conference sessions that featured, among others, Guy Bouchard (BTG Canada) presenting “ATSC 3.0 physical layer in Layman’s language,”  Yiyan Wu (Communications Research Centre Canada) “Mitigation of strong co-channel interference in ATSC 3.0,”  and Reza Soleymani (Concordia University) presenting “ATSC 3.0 interference control.” 

At IBC, the Korea pavilion featured preparations for the PyeongChang Olympics and related ATSC 3.0 broadcasts.  Korea’s roadmap for ATSC 3.0 services continues to be refined.  Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) showed their ATSC “tuner stick” development as a prominent aspect of the pavilion.

“While ATSC 3.0 itself might not have been extensively featured on the exhibit floor, there were plenty of demonstrations of its underlying technologies and the new advanced video capabilities that ATSC 3.0 can provide,” noted Reitmeier, who highlighted a number of developments relevant to ATSC 3.0 generally and to the A/341 Video Standard specifically:

  • HEVC is at the heart of A/341, and H.265 video compression encoders are now available from Ateme, Ericsson, Harmonic and other manufacturers.  “The bit rate needed for good UHD encoding seems to be steadily decreasing as encoder implementations are improved,” Reitmeier said.  
  • High Dynamic Range cameras are now available from Sony and other camera makers.  Also supporting A/341, many HDR production and distribution experiments and trials have been taking place in Europe, some using the HLG system and others using HDR10.  Perhaps the largest scale UHD/HDR production to date was recently made by BT Sport, produced the UETF Finals using 25 HDR cameras, in Slog3 and converting to PQ for satellite and terrestrial transmission (using DVB-T2). 
    • “One of the most important aspects of the many HDR trials is learning how to simultaneously produce high quality HDR and SDR experiences.  Just like the early days of HDTV, production systems must be able to produce new, higher-quality formats, but also must continue to deliver an uncompromised experience to the mainstream, legacy audience,” Reitmeier explained.
  • Experiments with High Frame Rate video are increasing.  Ateme, DVB and EBU all showed 1080p100 HDR video, while SES Astra showed UHD p100 HDR. And NHK demonstrated “amazing” 8K100p capability, along with the camera and video recorder equipment that was developed in their research labs.