Cleveland, Ohio –The latest field tests of a complete transmission technology for Ultra HD digital-TV broadcasts “are even more encouraging” than previous tests last fall, said backers of the tested Futurecast technology.
“All of the results were more encouraging [than fall tests in Madison, Wisc.] because of the terrain and improvements in the system,” said LG spokesman John Taylor. System improvements include
improved signal acquisition for mobile TV reception in fast-moving vehicles in downtown, suburban and rural locations up to 50 miles from a transmitter.
For the Cleveland tests, Futurecast developers LG, GatesAir and Zenith held demonstrations for broadcast engineers, members of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), the senior technical team of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), broadcast equipment companies, and others.
The latest tests of the transmission technology, also called the physical layer, included reception in more challenging reception areas such as Cleveland’s urban core, where Futurecast “proved robust” in withstanding multipath reflections caused by tall office buildings, Taylor said. The tests were also conducted 24/7, thanks to the use of an unused TV channel, enabling the proponents to collect more data than they did during the Wisconsin tests. The Wisconsin tests were limited to only a few nighttime hours over a commercial TV station that stopped broadcasting its regular programming to test Futurecast.
Futurecast backers contend the key benefits of their system, compared to the current digital broadcast standard, include 30 percent faster throughput, 4K broadcasting, improved multipath performance for fixed- and portable-TV reception, and enhanced indoor penetration, particularly for portable hand-held TVs.
Although the trio of companies proposed a complete physical layer, they expect the final ATSC 3.0 DTV-broadcast standard to include physical-layer technologies from other companies, Taylor said. Nonetheless, the group said in a statement that it expects Futurecast technologies to account for “the majority” of the baseline ATSC 3.0 physical-layer standard.
The physical layer is moving toward ATSC candidate-standard status this summer. After a standard reaches that milestone, manufacturers can build equipment to test the standard. Then the technology can go to ballot as a proposed standard. The ATSC’s goal is to have a final standard in place in the first half of 2017, Taylor said.
The tests demonstrated how ATSC 3.0 can be used by TV stations to simultaneously deliver 4K content to home TVs simultaneously with two mobile-TV streams in a single 6MHz channel with improved indoor reception and longer range than the current 1080i ATSC DTV standard in use, the group said. The mobile-TV streams in the demo consisted of a “rock-solid” HD signal delivered to a mobile TV in a moving vehicles and a standard-definition picture to a hand-held device, Taylor said.
Other use cases include the simultaneous transmission of two 4K streams or one 4K stream with multiple HD streams, Taylor said.
The group used the HEVC codec to transmit video over the Futurecast physical layer. HEVC is said to be the likely codec that a final ATSC 3.0 standard will include.
Other companies proposing technologies for use in a complete ATSC 3.0 physical layer include DVB, Technicolor, Sony, ETRI, Samsung, One Media, NHK, and CRC, among others.
Separately, other technologies are being tested for ATSC 3.0 multichannel audio, advanced emergency alerts, closed captioning, and targeted advertising. For emergency alerts, ATSC 3.0 will leverage the AWARN (Advanced Warning and Response Network) to deliver broadcast emergency announcements to TV sets and mobile devices along with maps, graphics, video, and text.