ATSC 3.0: The Migration to Next-Gen TV

ATSC-3.0_The-Migration-to-Next-Gen-TV

With ATSC 3.0 just on the verge of completion, and the repack underway, now is the ideal time for broadcasters in the U.S. to start planning how and when they’ll migrate to the next-gen TV standard. ATSC 3.0 will provide broadcasters with the opportunity to offer superior over-the-air TV as well as deliver hybrid broadcast and broadband services to address the growing consumer demand for advanced television experiences on every screen.

Yet, ATSC 3.0 is a whole new world. To successfully meet the obligations of new channel sharing agreements and migrate to the ATSC 3.0 standard, broadcasters need to partner with an expert in video delivery infrastructure. Here are three important considerations when adapting to the new broadcast environment.

Bridging the Gap Between ATSC 1.0 and 3.0

A significant amount changes in the ATSC 3.0 environment compared with ATSC 1.0. For starters, HEVC and AC4 are the new video and audio encoding standards. Transport streams become obsolete in the next-generation environment. Native IP transport with DASH segmentation and ROUTE encapsulation are used.

So, what doesn’t change with ATSC 3.0? Within the new transmission pipes, also known as physical layer pipes (PLPs), statistical multiplexing can be used to optimize the bitrates and video quality of the channels that share the same PLP. Another intriguing aspect of ATSC 3.0 is that broadcasters can support hybrid broadcast/broadband delivery with broadcast content delivered OTA and OTT content via broadband connection in the receiver. DASH is the key enabler for this scenario.

A common question broadcasters ask is: “What type of encoding system do I need to prepare for ATSC 3.0?” Choosing a software-based media processor that supports both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 ecosystems will ensure you are future-proof.

Optimized Statistical Multiplexing for Channel Sharing Applications

Broadcasters are exploring channel sharing options in the ATSC 1.0 environment, given the recent conclusion of the FCC spectrum auction. Here’s where having an advanced statistical multiplexing technology is crucial. Using statistical multiplexing technology, broadcasters can define a guaranteed average bitrate for each channel over long periods of time. This capability is perfect for channel sharing agreements, as broadcasters can still deliver the bandwidth savings and video quality optimization enabled by statistical multiplexing, and at the same time enforce sharing agreements with a fair distribution of the bandwidth.

Operational Agility and Flexibility through Software

A software-based solution for ATSC 3.0 is critical. This can enable a simple upgrade path to new features and enhancements — a level of flexibility and agility that is especially important for broadcasters as they enter a new era of television with the post auction repack and ATSC 3.0. With a single solution, broadcasters can support MPEG-2, AVC and HEVC streams as well as SD, HD and UHD content formats.

Are You Ready to Transition to ATSC 3.0?

Recently, we demonstrated how the Electra X media processor and Spectrum X media server form a complete ATSC 3.0 workflow capable of delivering UHD and 1080p60 content in the most efficient manner possible.

For channel sharing, our FlexStream statistical multiplexing technology offers a breakthrough for bandwidth savings and video quality optimization.

Harmonic’s software-based, integrated suite of solutions are cost-effective and future-proof, making it easy for broadcasters to comply with the next-generation broadcast standard, as well as ATSC 1.0 in the short term. The result? Being able to deliver superior video quality across all screens in any ecosystem.

For more information, listen to our Tech Talk Webinar on ATSC 3.0 and visit our solutions page.

– Jean Macher, Director of Market Development, Harmonic

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