Next-Gen TV Standard: DVB With A Twist?
Most of the 10 proposals for a next-generation TV standard submitted to the Advanced Television Systems Committee last week are based on the DVB-T2, the European broadcast standard.
The proposals, representing the work on 18 organizations and one individual, are for the standard's "physical layer" — the component that deals with the actual over-the-air transmission.
Detailed versions of the proposals are due Sept. 27.
The ATSC's goal is to develop a standard that generates a signal robust enough to be received on smartphones and tablets and on TV sets with indoor antennas virtually anywhere. The ATSC also wants the standard to give broadcasters a platform to implement advanced services like 4K, 3D and interactivity.
ATSC is on a timetable to adopt a final standard by 2016. It would take several years after that to implement.
Organizations that submitted a proposal included television manufacturers, broadcast equipment manufacturers, international research groups, one individual and one broadcaster, Sinclair Broadcast Group.
“I’m very pleased with all of the responses,” says Mark Richer, president of ATSC. “There’s a great range of companies, a lot of support, and it’s always really interesting to see which companies are working together on joint proposals.”
- Samsung and Sony
- Canada’s Communications Research Centre and South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute
- Qualcomm and Ericsson
- LG and Harris Broadcast
- China’s National Engineering Research Center of Digital Television, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai Advance Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Bell Labs
- Allen Limberg
- Sinclair Broadcast Group and Coherent Logix
- Power Broadcasting
Peter Siebert, executive director of the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) project in Geneva, Switzerland, said he expected ATSC to adopt a standard that would be based around DVB’s technology.
His group submitted a near blueprint of the existing standard, while others, based on interviews with proposal authors, made alterations and added enhancements to the standard.
Allen Limberg, the lone individual to submit a proposal, would keep DVB-T2 nearly as-is, but would modify the way data is sent to improve frequency-selective fading. Limberg is an inventor and engineer whose past employers included RCA, GE and Samsung. The 76-year-old has authored 152 U.S. patents in the radio electronics field during his career.
Technicolor, a global media and entertainment technology company, submitted a proposal with DVB-T2 at its core, but wants to bring in mobile transmission capabilities found in DVB-NGH, which stands for Next Generation Handheld. NGH is a relatively new DVB effort to address specific issues with mobile transmission found in DVB-T2, says Alan Stein, VP technology at Technicolor.
“ATSC’s ambition is for a fixed and a mobile solution, and we believe by incorporating some of the NGH elements, as well as updating certain things in T2 that are known to be slightly deficient, we can put together a system that has a high degree of worldwide compatibility and additionally be optimal for a fixed and mobile terrestrial broadcast system,” says Stein.
Stein declined to comment on specific DVB-T2 deficiencies that Technicolor believes could be improved upon until the detailed responses come in next month.
A proposal put together by Canada’s Communications Research Centre (CRC) and South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, two government-funded research labs, wasn’t for a complete end-to-end system, rather, it was designed as an add-on to enhance whichever standard is ultimately selected by the ATSC.
Yiyan Wu, a research scientist at CRC, says both teams recognized that most of the proposals would likely include DVB-T2 at the core, which uses co-orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (COFDM) as a modulation scheme.
“I can see our proposed model being added to almost any of the proposed systems and be harmonized together,” says Wu. “Think of it as a top layer solution that can go on a T2, or other high-speed transmission system.”
Mark Aitken, VP advanced technology at Sinclair, says the joint Sinclair-Coherent system uses a “parameterized” approach and has an ability to evolve the standard over time. “There is a go-forward, evolutionary path with what we’ve proposed,” says Aitken.
The proposed system integrates the broadcast band and IP networks together with an aim of making it easy for consumers to receive content on any device over a terrestrial broadcast, which is one of the big goals of ATSC 3.0.
To make both ends of system — DVB-T2 on one end and LTE on the other — work seamlessly together, the two organizations spent the last three years developing what they call the Broadcast Market Exchange (BMX).
BMX is a rules-based intelligent network that’s open in the sense that it’s a marketplace where different content and different delivery methods, chosen by an individual broadcaster, may derive different business values based on the nature of business being conducted.
“The BMX is the orchestra leader that says these resources are available here, they can be contracted on these terms, you’ve already set your terms for delivery, and off it goes,” says Aitken. “To the end-user, it’s invisible, in every literal sense that when you use a cellphone today, you pick it up, dial in a number and you talk. You don’t worry about how it ended up that you’re having a conversation. We’re talking about that same level of transparency to the end-user that allows broadcasting to engage in business models that today are absolutely impossible.”