ATSC 3.0 Gets First 'Candidate Standard'

The development of a next generation broadcast standard has taken a notable step forward with the Advanced Television Systems Committee’s announcement that one important part of the physical layer of new ATSC 3.0 standard has been approved as a “candidate standard.”

The ATSC’s Technology Group put out a ballot for “system discovery and signaling” technologies as a candidate standard in April. Those recommendations were approved when balloting ended on May 5.

The group is hoping that all parts of the ATSC 3.0, which will be a suite of standards, will become candidate standards in 2015.

Members of the organization typically spend a number of months reviewing and revising candidate standards before they become “proposed standards.” The groups hope to have a completed standard in 2017.

“System Discovery and Signaling” technologies, or the so-called “bootstrap signal” portion of the Physical Layer (A/321 Part 1) will be important to the future evolution of ATSC 3.0, the group noted.

“Simply put, the bootstrap is a low-level signal that tells a receiver to decode and process wireless services multiplexed in a broadcast channel,” explained Mark Richer, president of ATSC in a statement. “It’s designed to be a very robust signal and detectable even at low signal levels.”

This will help make the standard more robust and give broadcasters much more flexibility in the future. “Many other services, at least some of which have likely not yet even been conceived, could also be provided by a broadcaster and identified within a transmitted signal through the use of a bootstrap signal associated with each particular service,” Richer said. “This new capability ensures that broadcast spectrum can be adapted to carry new services in the years ahead.”

Important elements of this technology were proposed by One Media and China’s National Engineering Research Center in Shanghai. One Media is a joint venture of Coherent Logix and the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

ATSC reports that the bootstrap signal for ATSC 3.0 transmission will remain a candidate standard for nine months while prototype equipment is built and tested.

Richer also noted that the core elements of the physical layer – including the modulation system, error correction algorithms, constellations and other aspects – are expected to be elevated to candidate standard status this summer.

The groups work on the development of ATSC 3.0 and the opportunities it will offer for the broadcasting industry will be a major topic at the ATSC Broadcast Television Conference. It will be held on May 13 and 14 at the Reagan International Commerce Center in Washington, D.C.