NextGen TV: The Expanding Universe of Tools to Deploy ATSC 3.0
ALEXANDRIA, VA– ATSC 3.0 (also known as “NextGen TV”) quickly debuted in many US markets, with about 60 implementations and more. There is no way around the truth – March 3.0 is included and if you are a TV operator, you will have to join the ranks to stay competitive. The first part of this two-part series (in the June issue) discussed in general terms what is needed to switch from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0 broadcasting. This time we will look at the actual equipment and services available to help with the transition to NextGen TV.
WHERE ARE THE “BOXES”?
In essence, ATSC 3.0 is much more software than hardware, and many of the products to be described exist as software already loaded on a dedicated server or software provided to install on a user’s server platform, computer, laptop, tablet, or tablet. even a smartphone. Some companies even offer their 3.0 products in cloud-based software packages as a service (SaaS).
Transforming studio video and audio into an ATSC 3.0 signal involves a number of processes that ultimately generate HEVC video and Dolby AC-4 signals that are OFDM-modulated for transmission.
This “conditioning” includes: input stream and transport stream processing, any video up, down or cross conversion, A / V encoding, statistical multiplexing, common encryption encoding (CENC), encapsulation of the route, “conditioning” by the broadcast scheduler and gateway, as well as the generation and addition of an alarm, an electronic service manual (ESG), captions or subtitles and other ancillary data that make up the overall signal 3.0.
These processes are mostly software-defined, with special servers making heavy lifting either in the studio or at the location of a remote transmitter. A number of companies have faced the challenge of developing products in this area and will be happy to work with future 3.0 users.
Harmonic’s local end-to-end hybrid solution includes XOS Advanced Media Processor encryption and a cloud-based server and delivery via their VOS 360 cloud SaaS streaming.
Enensys MediaCast ATSC virtualized signaling and delivery software delivers live content from HEVC encoders or real-time content using ROUTE or MMTP protocols. In addition, MediaCast facilitates the delivery of ESG, EAS information and interactive applications. Enensys also offers a virtualized software gateway, SmartGate, which integrates multiple IP streams, provides ATSC layer protocol encapsulation, and more.
DigiCAP’s DigiCaster combines all the necessary software components needed to group digital data into an ATSC 3.0 stream that is ready to be sent to the station’s OTA transmission platform.
Ateme’s Titan Live, Titan Mux and Titan File products provide video compression, stream processing and recoding operations, respectively, that are essential for creating a 3.0 signal.
Triveni Digital’s ATSC 3.0 broadcast gateway / scheduler is designed to integrate with the company’s GuideBuilder XM encoder to create a NextGen TV signal that is ready to be sent to the exciting stage of the transmitter. Broadcast Gateway / Scheduler creates signaling from user parameters and can also be used to synchronize SFN.
DS Broadcast’s Aster BGE9300 ATSC 3.0 encoder accommodates UHD1 (2160p) video, as well as multiple FHD (1080p) or HD video signals with TS, ROUTE or MMTP streams or DASH / MPU output. It supports Dolby AC-4, Dolby Digital, AAC audio, along with high dynamic range and a wide range of video.
Synamedia offers software-oriented processing solutions for encoding and packaging ATSC 3.0 signals. The company has partnered with NextGen Triveni Digital and Thomson Broadcast TV players to allow broadcasters to create an ATSC 3.0 service that can be used in the cloud. Synamedia has created a brochure “Next Generation ATSC 3.0 TV for Programmers and TV Networks” that provides useful information on the transition to 3.0. The free download is available at synamedia.com.
Unisoft Corp. offers a complete package for preparation / delivery of ATSC 3.0 signals, consisting of components of Ateme, Enensys and other brands with a presence in NextGen TV. The company is an authorized third-party software distributor, but has also developed a number of products on its own, including their UniSoft Multicast Server or UMS, which allows the delivery of the ATSC 3.0 hybrid broadband component to consumer receivers.
Although much attention is paid to video in terms of courting users with NextGen TV, improved audio capabilities are also part of the user experience. Dolby Labs AC-4 technology was used to deliver audio to the United States, and the company released a 5.1.4 encoder kit for this standard.
Telos Alliance is ready to assist TV operators in switching to 3.0 with their Linear Acoustic LA-5300 audio processor, which is charged as a “complete audio solution for ATSC 3.0. It handles and encodes Dolby AC-4 up to four audio programs, with the ability to add the Nielsen and Verance watermark.
DELIVERY ON THE AIR
Transmitter manufacturers have been ready to move to the ATSC 3.0 platform for some time, with almost all showing products tailored for delivery to NextGen.
The GatesAir Maxiva XTE exciters are now ready for 3.0 and easily convertible from 1.0. Intraplex’s network technology is also available, providing secure, reliable transport of any video content over IP, including higher data rates of 3.0.
The owners of Hitachi-Comark’s Parallax transmitter are equally determined to switch to NextGen broadcasting without reducing the amplifiers required for switching 3.0, and only slightly upgrading the exciter to add an ATSC 3.0 license. Comark Digital Services, CDS, is ready to handle the necessary transmitter check when moving to Next Gen operation. CDS has partnered with a number of companies (Ateme, Enensys, Triveni Digital and DigiCAP) to provide everything you need to convert 3.0.
Rohde & Schwarz has been providing transmission packages for ATSC 3.0 applications up to 100 kW for some time and is about to launch equipment supporting NextGen TV aimed at LPTV operators who want to embark on the 3.0 band, and will soon added 3.0 TLx9 gap filling capabilities and a low power line.
MONITORING, TESTING AND COMPLIANCE
All NextGen TV “practitioners” emphasize the importance of monitoring their signals via consumer 3.0 TVs, as home reception is the best test of whether everything in the transmission chain is working properly. Representative models are offered by a growing list of manufacturers, including LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony.
An out-of-air demodulator or “demod” has long been part of the TV station’s inventory, and several companies now offer 3.0 reception models.
Sencore is one of them, with its ARD 3000 series receivers / decoders. The ARD 3100 accommodates ATSC 3.0 signals with a bitrate of up to 70 mbps, along with Dolby AC-4 audio and outputs demodulated video in most 3G / HD / SD SDI formats. Sencore also offers a manual RF measuring device, SLM 1350, with a built-in 3.0 demodulator.
DS Broadcast offers off-air 3.0 reception via their integrated BGD4100 receiver decoder (IRD). It handles both ATSC 3.0 and 1.0 signals and in addition to outputting SDI or HDMI video, the device also analyzes and monitors ROUTE / MMTP IP / STLTP / TS / T2MI data and has an integrated TFT-LCD display.
DekTec offers a number of 3.0 products, including a software-defined multi-standard receiver, the DTA-2131, which, in addition to supporting ATSC 3.0 and 1.0, works with DAB, DVB-T2 and ISDB-T signals. When used with DekTec’s StreamXpert software, it provides in-depth display and analysis of ATSC 3.0 IP audio, video and payload metadata.
The tool for checking and measuring computer modules DVEO ‘Verify ATSC 3.0 provides complete data for the signaling table, PLP bitrate and speed analysis, RF constellation, Dolby AC-4 decoding display and more.
Triveni Digital, in addition to their signal processing equipment 3.0, offers a full range of monitoring, testing and measurement products, including Windows-based StreamScope XM Verifier software, which provides in-depth evaluation of ATSC 3.0 services and their StreamScope XM MT analyzer flow supports ROUTE, MMTP and STLTP protocols, as well as RF signals, with real-time signal analysis.
In addition to providing an analysis of most of the standards used for audio and video broadcasting, Hexylon’s standalone Multistandard TV and Radio Analyzer also offers an 8-inch touchscreen display for watching 3.0 shows and an in-depth review of their health.
TestTree’s ReFeree 3 ATSC 3.0 field analyzer also works with 1.0 signals and provides full RF and STL TP analysis along with audio and video decoding to help troubleshoot transmission issues.
Qligent’s Vision ATSC simultaneously monitors both ATSC 3.0 and 1.0 end-to-end paths, collecting real-time data to provide an ongoing assessment of the overall health of the system and to help detect problems and resolve them quickly.
Another very portable and useful signal analysis device 3.0 is the Airwavz RedZone USB dongle receiver, which provides detailed data outside of the transmission for NextGen transmissions.
TIME TO COUNT SFN?
One of the great advantages that comes with ATSC 3.0 is the relative ease of customizing coverage – especially in areas that are mountainous or have problems with shading tall buildings – by creating a single-frequency network or SFN. The hardware for this application is easily accessible, as Dielectric offers an antenna specifically designed for SFN, the new Powerlite TFU-WB-LP series.
ERI supports SFN compilations with their SuperPanel and ETU series of UHF antennas, which are available with elliptical polarization and can be configured for directional or non-directional applications. ERI’s single-channel UHF antennas are also ideal for SFN projects, as they are available with horizontal, elliptical or circular polarization and directional azimuth models.
DO NOT LEAVE FOLLOW-UP!
If you’ve dragged your feet to the next era of broadcast television, don’t hesitate. There is no lack of technology to support 3.0 operations, and more and more equipment is arriving on the scene. The manufacturers are fully committed to moving NextGen TV broadcasting forward and are ready to help you make the transformation.