ATSC 3.0 physical layer elevated to candidate standard


Michelle Clancy

| 30 September 2015

The ATSC 3.0 next-generation television broadcasting physical layer spec has been elevated to 'candidate standard' status.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee TG3 Technology Group made the approval, which follows the elevation of the system discovery and signalling portion of the spec.

"Over the course of months leading up to this vote, hundreds of volunteers have evaluated proposed technologies all with the mindset of selecting the best and most flexible transmission system as the foundation of ATSC 3.0," said ATSC president Mark Richer. "This represents a major milestone, and we expect to see manufacturers developing prototypes that can test the more than a dozen interconnected core building-block elements of the physical layer."

The ATSC 3.0 physical layer is intended to offer far more flexibility, robustness and spectrum efficiency than the ATSC 1.0 standard, which was adopted two decades ago and is still in place. The ATSC 3.0 physical layer allows television broadcasters to choose from a wide variety of transmission parameters, so that each station can tailor its signal to best serve its local market by providing the combination of services and coverage area best suited for the market and its terrain.

"The system will allow high capacity, low robustness modes and also lower capacity, high robustness modes in the same transmission," Richer explained. "That flexibility means that we're likely to see both 4K Ultra HD broadcasts running side-by-side with robust mobile broadcasts to handheld devices."

Technologies can be selected for various use cases like single frequency networks, multiple input/multiple output channel operation, channel bonding and more, well beyond a single transmitting tower. There are a large range of selections for data protection including a wide range of guard intervals, forward error correction code lengths and code rates.