a manufacturer of RF and microwave filters, has published its February newsletter. In
it, Sam Benzacar writes in "Over-the-Air Broadcast TV 2.0" the resurgence in popularity
of OTA broadcasting for local television stations. There is a similar growth in OTA radio
broadcasting as well. People's personal communications financial resources are being
stretched to the point of breaking. When you add up a cellphone family plan, cable television,
Internet service, and in some cases a telephone landline, monthly bills can easily add
up to $400... which is nearly $5k per year! That's a lot of wampum. I wrote a couple
years ago about the
Signal Amplified Digital Outdoor HDTV Antenna. At this time I am preparing to replace
it with a Channel Master CM-5020 antenna mounted to a vintage Alliance Model U−100
TennaRotor I bought on eBay. A full write-up that includes photos of the teardown for
both the rotator motor unit and the set-top controller will be posted soon. These monthly
newsletters always provide good tidbits you likely won't find elsewhere.
A Word from Sam Benzacar
Broadcast TV 2.0
By Sam Benzacar
If you get your TV programming from cable, fiber, satellite, or streaming, over-the-air
broadcast TV seems like a distant memory. However, you might be interested to know (as
I was) that the number of people who get their content form OTA TV is actually growing--up
about 4% per year in the last two years. So, you might ask "Who are these people?"
Well, they might be your neighbors, even if they have cable, as OTA TV much better
when transmission transitioned from analog to digital beginning in 2009, offering a lot
more than the few SD channels of the past. There are also plenty of "cord-cutters" who
use OTA TV to receive local content, which either isn't available or comes at a price
from streaming services. The rest are a combination of people who cannot afford broadband,
cable, or satellite or are happy with they get over the air.
the next few years, it's a safe bet that many more people will be thinking about OTA
TV as the FCC has approved the first new Advanced Television Standards Committee (ATSC)
standard since Version 1.0 in 1996. ATSC 3.0 is a wholesale change in TV broadcast that
makes OTA a true competitor to cable, fiber, satellite, and Internet streaming for the
first time. ATSC 2.0 was supposed to be the next standard but the ATSC leap-frogged over
it to make OTA more comprehensive, which it is and then some. It's a family of 20 standards
spanning more than 1,000 pages of documentation.
To receive OTA channels, consumers will need new TVs, dedicated streaming boxes, external
tuners, or a new type of appliance called a home gateway. The need to replace existing
equipment was obviously a major concern as the standard was being developed, so last
November the FCC ordered broadcasters who begin voluntary ATSC 3.0 transmission to simulcast
ATSC 1.0 signals for 5 yr. so that OTA viewers could retain service.
That isn't likely to be a problem as long before ATSC 3.0 is available they will be
equipment to support it. The ribbon-cutting for the standard took place at the Consumer
Electronics Show in January and ATSC 3.0-capable TVs were announced by almost every manufacturer.
The drive to make ATSC 3.0 a reality sooner than later was driven by the South Korean
government and its major manufacturers, so it could be demonstrated at the 2018 Winter
LG Electronics introduced the world's first ATSC 3.0-capable 4K TV for the Korean
market early last year with Samsung following shortly thereafter. The service is already
available in Seoul and some other areas of the country from its leading terrestrial broadcasters
and the entire country should be covered by 2021. The Sinclair Broadcast Group powerhouse,
the largest TV station operator in the U.S. along with Korea's SK Telecom plan to build
an ATSC 3.0 platform before this July called NG TV for use in the U.S.
Why ATSC 3.0 Is a Big Deal
First, ATSC 3.0 is the first IP-based OTA technology, and it combines OTA signals
received by an antenna with supplementary content delivered via broadband, a hybrid system.
What this gives you is a combination of the interactive capabilities of streaming with
the low cost of OTA broadcast and the high image and audio quality of cable, fiber, or
The ability to integrate Internet-delivered content with that from OTA paves the way
for finely-targeted advertising and two-way interactive services as well as authenticated,
tiered broadcast services. ATSC 3.0 supports legacy SD video resolutions up to 720 x
480, interlaced HD video resolutions up to 1920 x 1080, and progressive-scan 4K UHD video
with resolution up to 3840 x 2160 and frame rates up to 120 fps.
ATSC 3.0 also enables the long-needed overhaul of the Emergency Alert System (EAS)
through a new Advanced Warning and Response Network (AWARN) that can deliver photos,
surveillance video, storm tracks, evacuation routes, shelter instructions, hospital wait
times, power outage locations, and other information (Figure 2). It can also "wake up"
devices that are not powered on to deliver alerts as well.
Although TVs will be ATSC 3.0 capable, another device called a home gateway is also
likely to appear as it performs multiple functions, combining OTA and Internet-delivered
content and sending it to a Wi-Fi router to stream devices throughout the home. As reception
indoors is projected to be much better than with ATSC 1.0, many areas won't require an
outdoor antenna. Instead, the antenna will be part of the home gateway. Greater signal
strength is achieved by adaptable frequency capability that lets signals to travel further
and penetrate deeper into buildings and other RF-constrained places.
LG Electronics has been showing such a device called an "ATSC 3.0 Smart Antenna" at
CES for the last three years. The module employs an electronically-steerable directional
antenna and is very small so it can be placed almost anywhere in a home and integrates
an ATSC 3.0 tuner-demodulator SoC and ATSC 1.0 analog tuner for backward compatibility.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has developed its own gateway architecture
through its PILOT initiative that has similar capabilities.
ATSC 3.0 uses the current 6 MHz channel but is more spectrally-efficient, using H.265
HEVC, (High Efficiency Video Coding) video compression technique rather than MPEG-2 used
in ATSC 1.0. This makes it possible to transmit more video content with less data it
delivers 4K video in half the bandwidth of ATSC 1.0.
ATSC 3.0 also has better audio compression via Dolby AC-4 rather than the current
Dolby AC-3 and supports viewing on ATSC-3.0-capable mobile devices as well as enhanced
video capabilities from 3D to High Dynamic Range (HDR), High Frame Rate (HFR), and Wide
Color Gamut (WCG) technology currently available only via wired and satellite solutions.
In short, the only resemblance between ATSC 3.0 and pre-ATSC 1.0 OTA TV is that one
of the sources of content will be be received over the air. How well the viewing public
receives it remains to be seen, but with its 4K capabilities, excellent audio quality,
massively improved early warning capabilities, more effective delivery to mobile devices,
better reception within buildings, and the ability to provide interactive services along
with content delivered via the Internet ensures it seems like OTA TV will be significantly
revived. ATSC 3.0 should be available in some markets in 2018 and deployment should rapidly
increase in 2019.
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About Anatech Electronics
Anatech Electronics, Inc. (AEI) specializes in the design and manufacture of standard
and custom RF and microwave filters and other passive components and subsystems employed
in commercial, industrial, and aerospace and applications. Products are available from
an operating frequency range of 10 kHz to 30 GHz and include cavity, ceramic, crystal,
LC, and surface acoustic wave (SAW), as well as power combiners/dividers, duplexers and
diplexers, directional couplers, terminations, attenuators, circulators, EMI filters,
and lightning arrestors. The company's custom products and capabilities are available
Anatech Electronics, Inc.
70 Outwater Lane
Garfield, NJ 07026
Posted March 7, 2018