With the FCC broadcast spectrum auction now completed, the next step for many broadcasters is to analyze their post-repack compression needs as they prepare for ATSC 3.0. After the auction, there will be 84MHz less broadcast TV spectrum, or about 14 UHF channels. What this means is that broadcasters will need to squeeze the programs currently carried in ATSC 1.0 as well as new ATSC 3.0 signals into a smaller band. But don’t lose sleep at night; this issue can easily be resolved through the latest innovations in compression.
As broadcasters prepare to make the annual trip to Las Vegas to attend the NAB Show, they would be smart to add “compression” to their list of must-see technologies. Being the leader in compression, Harmonic will demonstrate how broadcasters can power both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 deployments through flexible, software-based compression solutions.
For broadcasters looking to make the best use of ATSC 1.0 capacity, Harmonic will showcase a new and improved MPEG-2 encoding platform, which includes the Electra™ X2 best-in-class encoder powered by the Harmonic PURE Compression Engine™ and the ProStream® X software multiplexer, enabling the migration to ATSC 3.0 while also offering a new statistical multiplexing functionality to help with channel sharing collaboration. Programs are guaranteed a target average bitrate, while delivering the bandwidth savings and video quality optimization of statistical multiplexing.
On the flip side, we know that some broadcasters want to move to ATSC 3.0 as soon as the frequencies become available. In doing so, they can start deploying the innovative services the new standard enables, including amazing picture quality with Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR); and immersive audio experiences with a higher number of audio channels, as well as object-based and scene-based audio.
Of course, this requires a vastly more efficient compression approach than MPEG-2. At NAB, we’ll be showing how broadcasters can compress ATSC 3.0 channels using HEVC and Dolby AC-4 codecs on the Electra X2 encoder. A variety of video resolutions are available for broadcast, multiscreen and mobile applications, including SD, HD and Ultra HD with HDR. The Electra X2 encoder also has a built-in DASH packager to meet ATSC 3.0 transport requirements.
Since the Electra X2 encoder is fully software-based, it makes it easy for broadcasters to upgrade to new features, enhancements and standard modifications (e.g. HDR formats, new CMAF packaging). Even better, it can be used in an ATSC 1.0 infrastructure initially and then migrated to ATSC 3.0 via a new license.
Finally, Harmonic will demonstrate how broadcasters can offload the OTT processing and delivery of ATSC 3.0 channels to the cloud using our Electra X2 encoder and VOS™ Cloud platforms running in a private or public cloud. VOS Cloud provides complete OTT workflows, from packaging to origin server, time-shifting, blackouts, digital ad insertion and more, in a cloud native environment. Moreover, the VOS Cloud solution can aggregate, process and distribute channels at a station group or broadcast network level.
ATSC 3.0 is a game-changing standard that will enable broadcasters to deliver even better video and audio quality, but it will require some infrastructure changes. We’re excited to show you the latest innovations in compression (and cloud) technology at NAB. Please stop by the Harmonic booth SU1210 for a demo or click here to schedule a meeting.
– Jean Macher, Director, Market Development, Harmonic