Broadcaster trials FUTURECAST for UltraHD, mobile video delivery
Michelle Clancy
| 23 October 2014
Quincy Group's WKOW-TV, a local TV affiliate, is conducting a second round of real-world broadcast field testing with the FUTURECAST Universal Terrestrial Broadcasting System.

The trials in Madison, Wisconsin, aim to deliver 4K UltraHD content and two robust mobile TV streams in a single 6-MHz channel, while optimising indoor reception and offering spectrum efficiency.

FUTURECAST, co-developed by LG Electronics, its US R&D subsidiary Zenith, and GatesAir, is a contributor to the physical layer solution at the heart of the next-generation ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard.

"While most TV viewers in Wisconsin's capital city were fast asleep, the future of television broadcast technology was witnessed early this morning by a select group of broadcast industry professionals and expert viewers," the broadcaster said.

The initial field tests were completed in August the first over-the-air broadcast trials of a complete ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer system. It collected nearly 50,000 pieces of data from scores of reception sites, including challenging reception areas inside buildings, in fast-moving vehicles and at locations ranging from downtown to 50 miles from the transmitter. This week's follow-up testing is evaluating performance of hardware and software enhancements and sharing the experience with key members of the broadcast and TV industries.

Three-hour FUTURECAST broadcasts on WKOW's channel 26 began at 1am, and allowed outside observers (including representatives of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association) to see what's possible with the new transmission system.

"It's exciting to play a role in the establishment of next-gen standards that will usher in the future of television," said Brady Dreasler, chief engineer for Quincy Group. "Based on what I've seen in these FUTURECAST tests, the new standard will enable exciting new business models for broadcasters and exciting new services for viewers."

Key elements of FUTURECAST include data throughput increases of 30%, and improved multipath performance (compared with the current DTV standard) for fixed and portable TV reception, energy-saving features for consumer receivers and enhanced indoor TV signal penetration for mobile reception.

FUTURECAST's RF approach also addresses the co-channel and adjacent-channel interference challenges related to the anticipated UHF spectrum repacking, which will make room for mobile services to be delivered in unused analogue TV spectrum.