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Taking ATSC 2.0 to Market

While ATSC 2.0 capabilities could transform the traditional broadcast business, a number of potential hurdles will affect how quickly it is adopted by broadcasters and set makers.

To speed implementation, ATSC 2.0 was designed to be compatible with existing standards—which will significantly reduce the cost of upgrades— and as a bundle of technologies, which means broadcasters can phase in their investments as they add new features, says Mark Richer, president of the American Television Systems Committee.

“The analog-to-digital conversion was a major cost, but adding mobile DTV to the existing digital infrastructure is much smaller than the original digital conversion, and I think adding ATSC 2.0 capability will be yet again a much smaller investment than the mobile edition,” says Rich Chernock, CTO of Triveni Digital and chair of the technology & standards group that is the overall standards-setting committee within ATSC.

Timing is harder to pin down. While vendors are expected to have ATSC 2.0 capable products for the broadcast infrastructure available in 2012, consumer sets could take longer.

Some believe that prototype sets could be available by the end of this year, in time for CES 2012, but others believe prototypes might not be available until late 2012, with actual sets hitting the market in 2013.

Broadcasters will also need to learn new businesses. “Interactive content, push content and the ability to charge for content are all new areas,” notes Chernock.