As the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) geared up for the start of its annual trade show this week in Las Vegas, a coalition consisting of the NAB and other groups in the television broadcast, consumer electronics and public safety sectors asked the FCC Wednesday to launch proceedings on proposed rules to govern a new television transmission standard, known as ATSC 3.0. The coalition describes the standard as “the bedrock for continuing innovation by the television industry for decades to come.”
Other members of the NAB coalition include the Consumer Technology Association, America’s Public Television Stations, and the Advanced Warning and Response Network Alliance—a representative body of broadcasters and tech firms that aim to use the new standard as a foundation for improving the broadcast emergency alert system. Demonstrations of ATSC 3.0 technology are expected to be a highlight of the upcoming NAB show. The joint petitioners advised the FCC that the next-generation standard promises to facilitate interactivity, ultra-high definition picture quality, mobile television broadcasting, and a variety of other features that will enable broadcasters to remain competitive in today’s multi-platform media environment.
Because ATSC 3.0 is based on Internet protocol, the petitioners told the FCC that broadcasters will be able to use the new standard to “deliver the entire breadth of broadcast programming to smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.” Other potential benefits of ATSC 3.0 include (1) the ability to integrate broadcast program content with other IP-based services, (2) delivery of advanced emergency alert information to the public, and (3) datacasting “that will offer a new broadband data pipe into the home, thereby giving content providers another means for distributing large video and other digital files to consumers.”
Arguing that implementation of ATSC 3.0 will require few changes to the FCC’s rules and will not disrupt the current digital television (DTV) broadcast transmission system, the petition asks the FCC to authorize ATSC 3.0 on a voluntary, market-based basis. The petition also asks the FCC to give broadcasters and electronics manufacturers the option of conducting simulcasts in DTV and ATSC 3.0 formats as ATSC 3.0 is developed and refined. Although current DTV sets are not compatible with ATSC 3.0, the petitioners maintained that “no additional spectrum or government funds are required for the new standard, and consumers would have no equipment mandates,” adding that the proposed hybrid simulcast approach would assure that service to viewers “would not be interrupted.” Once ATSC 3.0 is implemented, the petitioners further predicted that “the high-value, free local broadcast programming offered by diverse broadcasters across the country will spur consumer demand for next-generation TV-capable devices.”