Fred Baumgartner is the former TV Product Manager for Nautel.

Fred started with AM in the 1970s, then FM, and now TV. Of all things in broadcasting, he loves transmission the most. He’s the guy with the 1954 1KW AM rig he’s slowly restoring for 160M Amateur operation; taking up the space normal people might have used for restoring a sports car. Fred loves a good idea, contemplating how to make this industry better, or an engineering puzzle.
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NAB 2016 – The Most Disruptive Year

by Fred Baumgartner
Like most of you, I’ve been to a few NABs over the years. There is always some excitement, especially in TV, about something like 3D, Ultra High Definition, High Dynamic Range and on and on. We get numb to the hype, and then there is something that comes along that is just fundamentally a disruptive game changer.

This is the last NAB before TV stations go through the auction process they can’t talk publicly about, and a game of musical chairs begins as stations move, go off the air, combine, or rebuild. It’s hard to get your head around anything that big. There will be a few NAB panel discussions (Stan Moote of the International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers has an interesting session ‘Are We Really Ready for Repack?‘), interviews and opinions expressed, but there are so many variables at play, no one really knows exactly what is going to happen.

Still, in all of this, it’s what is going to happen in the next three years to the TV broadcast’s technical standard that will change everything. Note that I am not using any qualifiers. I explain this all in a set of articles in TVT’s Broadcast Engineering Extra:
Part I: April SBE Ennes Workshop to Focus on ATSC 3.0
Part II: ATSC 3.0 Brings Flexibility of IP to Broadcast
Part III: Where Does ATSC 3.0 Fit in a Multichannel Universe?

Here’s the background:

nautel-tv-update-03-29-2016-ATSCIIIFor a while, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) looked at doing an ATSC 2.0-like upgrade that would be backward compatible like radio’s hybrid digital solutions. At the time, it was assumed that if it wasn’t backward compatible, the industry would take a hit like it did in 2009 with the DTV transition. Surprisingly, as the industry looked at the situation, ATSC 2.0 was quickly abandoned and the disruptive, complete overhaul, ATSC 3.0, picked up a great deal of momentum in the last year.

Groups that had fought the DTV transition now embraced ATSC 3.0. While DTV had to happen to free up the 700 MHz spectrum for wireless carriers, it cost broadcasters a lot of money and viewers, at least for a few years. Part of the reason ATSC 3.0 isn’t feared like ATSC 1.0 was, is that it’s a lot less expensive to make a flat screen with a slot for a dongle into an ATSC 3.0 TV than it was to replace the old glass tube TVs of the analog era. If you want to take full advantage of ATSC 3.0 and bring it into your home’s new gateway router, it supports a more interactive experience and the long sought after secondary screens. A lot of those devices are already in living rooms and hands, and devices turn over quickly.
The advantages of next generation TVs come from connecting an off-air antenna to the next generation of home routers. It can connect to a good old fashioned TV with a dongle or converter, but that’s the equivalent of a flip-phone.

But it’s not just that the ATSC 3.0 transition is easier that ATSC 1.0 was, it’s that ATSC 3.0 brings more viewers in more places and allows more profitable “advanced advertising.”

One of the wonders of ATSC 3.0 is that Single Frequency Networks are almost necessary to reach into buildings, venues, and subways.

One parting note: ATSC 3.0 is an all IP multimedia platform. It’s not just TV, but radio, as well as as any other media or experience you can do on the Internet today.

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