NextGen TV : ATSC 3.0 Free TV
NEW TV standard ATSC 3.0 FREE TV 2020
Audio – Video
|NEW TV standard ATSC 3.0 for True 4K TV - Beginning in 2020
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NEW TV - UHD Ultra High Definition TV
ATSC 3.0 “NextGen TV”: New broadcast TV standard for true 4K TV.
Broadcast TV, also known as over-the-air (OTA) TV, or antenna based TV, is changing beginning in 2020. It will be a slow transition for a few years, so don't panic, as you will have plenty of time to adapt.
2020 is the year that ATSC 3.0 begins and ATSC 1.0 starts to fade in the United States. ATSC 1.0 is the broadcast TV standard that has been used since digital TV over-the-air transmissions began and has been in use for digital TVs in the U.S. for over a decade.
If you bought a new TV made before 2020 or even up to the end of 2020, chances are the TV has a ATSC 1.0 tuner built-in. ATSC 3.0 (“NextGen TV”) is a major upgrade for antenna TV, designed for true 4K screen resolution and a major sound upgrade.
ATSC 3.0 is the latest version of the Advanced Television Systems Committee standards, defining how exactly television signals are broadcast. OTA TV signals currently use version 1.0 of the ATSC standards, which were introduced in 1996, initiating the switch from analog to digital TV that was finalized in the U.S. in 2009.
ATSC 3.0 makes use of both OTA signals and your in-home broadband. One major benefit is picture quality, up to 4K resolution for now with 8K picture resolution in the future. While the current ATSC 1.0 standard maxes out at 1080p picture resolution — the new standard allows 4K UHD broadcast. Other picture quality upgrades, including high-dynamic range (HDR), wide color gamut (WCG), and high frame rate (HFR) are all part of the new standard.
ATSC 3.0 is also future-proofed, allowing for future upgrades, possibly including 8K resolution. Currently, the only way to get 4K HDR content is via streaming services like Netflix.
ATSC 3.0 also includes benefits for reception, meaning you should be able to receive more channels in higher quality. Audio quality is increased as well, using Dolby AC-4 instead of AC-3, allowing for broadcasts up to 7.1.4 channel audio to support object-based sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
AC-3 is limited to just 5.1 channel surround. AC-4 can adapt to your gear, so if your TV or A/V receiver can support 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos, and it’s available on the movie you’re watching, that’s what you’ll get — but lesser components still get a version they can reproduce.
In addition to the picture and audio improvements, ATSC 3.0 also makes it possible to watch broadcast video on mobile devices like phones and tablets, as well as in cars. Advanced emergency alerts are also part of the standard, including better geotargeting, which means advancements like the ability to broadcast evacuation routes to areas that need that information.
Android devices, especially those made by Samsung, Sony, and LG — the leading adopters of ATSC 3.0 in the TV world — could very well include the new standard in future models.
ATSC 3.0 is not backward compatible with ATSC 1.0, which means that if your TV doesn’t include an ATSC 3.0 tuner, you’ll need an external converter to make use of those signals. However, you may only need a single ATSC 3.0 tuner for every TV in your house.
ATSC 3.0 can combine OTA broadcast signals with your home internet. Programming like shows and movies are broadcast and received over the air, while commercials, on-demand, and other premium content are provided over the internet.
Three different video formats are supported: Legacy HD, which supports resolutions up to 720 x 480; Interlaced HD, which supports signals up to 1080i; and Progressive Video, which supports resolutions from 1080p up to 4K UHD.
Setting up an ATSC 3.0 tuner should be as easy as connecting it to your antenna’s cable and either plugging in an Ethernet cable or configuring it to use your home’s Wi-Fi.
Do I need to buy a new antenna?
No, all existing VHF/UHF antennas are already capable of receiving ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. However, the number of stations you can receive will depend on various conditions like weather, your distance to the broadcast tower, and local geography. A more capable antenna might improve your reception.
Do I need internet access?
Even though ATSC 3.0 OTA broadcasts are designed to work hand-in-hand with content delivered over the internet, you DO NOT need an internet connection. Using just your antenna and an ATSC 3.0 tuner, you’ll be able to watch every local station that is broadcasting in the new standard. However, many of the more interesting features of ATSC 3.0, like customized ads, on-demand content, interactivity, and premium content, will require an internet connection.
Am I going to need a new TV?
The simple answer is “NO.” If your TV doesn’t support ATSC 3.0, you’ll be able to get by with an external converter box.
August 2020 may see some external tuners available for consumers but will be expensive.
If you happen to be in the market for a new TV and you want to future-proof yourself, several TV makers, including LG, Sony, and Samsung, are selling ATSC 3.0-compatible TVs for the U.S. market in late 2020. LG, which has been actively involved in the development of ATSC 3.0, will sell six compatible models.
What if I don’t care about ATSC 3.0?
If you have no interest in the benefits of ATSC 3.0, you can simply stick with existing ATSC 1.0 broadcasts. Unlike the switch from analog NTSC video to digital ATSC video, which was a mandatory one in 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved ATSC 3.0 in a way that allowed stations to broadcast in the new format on a voluntary basis. TV stations that do voluntarily broadcast in ATSC 3.0 must continue to offer ATSC 1.0 signals for at least five years after the switch. So, if you’re content with the status quo, there’s nothing forcing you to change, at least not for a while.
When can we expect ATSC 3.0 to arrive?
ATSC 3.0 is already here. In the U.S., test markets have begun rolling out using the finalized version of the standard. In November 2017, the National Association of Broadcasters was granted a license to begin operating a “living laboratory” in Cleveland, broadcasting ATSC 3.0 at full power. Similarly, seven broadcasters are preparing to launch a “model market” in Phoenix. More recently, a single station has begun broadcasting the standard in Chicago, and another four-tower installation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas began broadcasting in March of 2019.
Major station groups, including Fox, NBC, Tegna, and Nexstar Media Group, announced their support for a 2020 rollout of ATSC 3.0. By the end of 2020, we can expect up to 40 markets across the country to get ATSC 3.0-broadcasting stations. These include Fox television stations, NBCUniversal Owned television stations, Univision, SpectrumCo (whose members include Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Media Group), and others.
“The coverage goal for ATSC 3.0 in 2020 is 61 markets by the end of the year, reaching an estimated 70% of the country,”.
Is ATSC 3.0 available in my area?
June 2020 is looking like it will be the turning point for ATSC 3.0 broadcasts. That’s when simulcasts of all the major networks in the new standard are slated to be on-air in Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon.
In the following months, launches in Pittsburgh, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Charleston, South Carolina, are expected, with other big markets including Seattle, San Antonio, Austin, and Tampa scheduled to turn on in the second half of the year.
In Portland — one of the very first markets to begin 3.0 broadcasting — video resolution will be restricted to HD initially, and it likely won’t look any different than current ATSC 1.0 signals.
According to the ATSC, “Later in the year, the 3.0 hosts could eventually offer 1080p 60 HD with high-dynamic range (HDR), pending available content from the networks, and maybe even 4K UHD,” but the dream of a full roster of channels broadcasting in 4K HDR around-the-clock is probably years away.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM NEXTGEN TV THAT I CAN’T ALREADY GET WITH ATSC 1.0?
The NextGen TV standard was developed from the ground up as a totally new standard that combines over the air RF transmissions with IP-based services. This combination will allow broadcasters to provide the following:
• 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range and higher frames per second
• Immersive audio (with the ability to listen in multiple languages)
• Robust captioning (personalized in multiple languages)
• OTT-DVR type services (Cloud storage allows broadcasters to offer on-demand programming with DVR-type controls)
Mobility: The OFDM modulation standard is better suited for mobility and provides better coverage
Advanced Advertising: Broadcasters will be able to use viewer data to personalize and geo-target advertising.
Emergency Alerting: Broadcasters will be able to send far more detailed information and graphical data to viewers during emergencies and in certain cases be able to “wake up” devices when an alert occurs
Datacasting: NextGen TV will also allow broadcasters to offer enterprise-level datacasting services to businesses and first responders.
WHEN CAN I BUY A NEXTGEN TV-COMPATIBLE TV
LG, Samsung and Sony all announced that they would offer up to 20 different TV sets with support for NextGen TV by the 2020 holiday shopping season. Most of the compatible sets are high-end OLED (or Samsung’s QLED) 8K sets, so the entry point for early adopters will be expensive.
HOW WILL BROADCASTERS TRANSITION?
The transition will be very gradual into 2021 and beyond and could be confusing to consumers. Since ATSC 1.0 signals may still be broadcast for a few years, along with some ATSC 3.0 signals, consumers may be unsure exactly what signal they are receiving.
The FCC requires next-gen TV broadcasters to transmit “at least one free ATSC 3.0 video stream… at all times throughout the ATSC coverage area,” and that it be “at least as robust as a comparable DTV signal.”
HOW MUCH WILL THE TRANSITION COST FOR BROADCASTERS? The costs to TV broadcasters to outfit their plants to broadcast ATSC 3.0 will depend on a variety of things, but it’s not expected to match the costs incurred when broadcasters transitioned from analog TV to digital TV. Those costs involved not only transmission, but also new acquisition and production tools to upgrade to HD. For most broadcasters, the minimal outlays could involve upgrades to towers, transmitters, gateways and system integration.
Differences between ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0
ATSC 1.0 is based on 8-VSB modulation; ATSC 3.0 is based on COFDM.
ATSC 1.0 data comes in MPEG-2 packets. ATSC 3.0 data comes in IP packets using internet-style HEVC coding.
ATSC 1.0 signals were broadcast in the clear, but ATSC 3.0 signals require support for security and digital rights management.
One reason is to prevent receivers from being hacked by unauthorized broadcasters.
ATSC 3.0 supports downloadable applications written in HTML5.
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