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    Kirt Blattenberger,


RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while typing up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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Anatech Electronics Header: February 2018 Newsletter


Anatech Electronics, 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 Able 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

Anatech Electronics Newsletter for March 2018 (Sam Benzacar) - RF Cafe

Over-the-Air 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.

Over-the-Air Broadcast TV 2.0 - RF CafeIn 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 Olympics.

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

Why ATSC 3.0 Is a Big Deal - RF CafeFirst, 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 satellite TV.

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.

Key Technologies

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 at www.anatechelectronics.com.


Anatech Electronics, Inc.
70 Outwater Lane
Garfield, NJ 07026
(973) 772-4242



Posted March 7, 2018

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