With ATSC 3.0, broadcasters expect to play a big role in delivering infotainment to autonomous cars, but there is another related emerging market where broadcasters may be able also play — “smart” highways designed to improve safety, relieve congestion and reduce greenhouse gases.
Broadcasters and consumer electronics companies rightly see the market for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) as a huge opportunity for Next Generation Broadcasting (Next Gen), based on the ATSC 3.0 standard.
They are approaching automakers, original equipment makers (OEMs) and aftermarket suppliers with strong use cases for Next Gen, including in-vehicle infotainment.
But there is another side to the connected car industry that could be a key to ATSC 3.0 adoption: the telecommunications infrastructure that makes smart transportation possible.
Decisions made by state departments of transportation, smart cities, and public-private partnerships (think dynamically tolled express lanes), could have as much or more impact on Next Gen adoption than near-term decisions by companies in the automotive supply chain.
I recently attended the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s Detroit 2018 Annual Meeting. Thanks to sponsorship support by Spectrum Co., the AWARN Alliance, of which I serve as executive director, was a co-sponsor for “Emergency Responder Day” at the show.
I presented on the advantages of ATSC 3.0 for public safety in CAVs. Alerting is a strong and clear use case, but it was easy to see that the opportunity for Next Gen broadcasters is much, much bigger.
Seizing that opportunity will require an integrated and sustained approach.
Two Sides To A Huge Market
Conceptually, the market for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) can be divided in two: vehicles, including cars, trucks, and components on one side, and infrastructure, such as roadside telecom hardware and sensors; on the other.
In considering new in-car components, automakers and OEM’s are focused on return on investment and nationwide communications footprints.
The public-sector infrastructure players have broader goals than immediate ROI and tend to focus on single metro areas and corridors.
Reducing highway fatalities – more than 37,000 last year and climbing – is at the top of the list. Human factors account for 94% of fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so car automation is expected to greatly improve safety.
Alleviation of congestion, improving livability, and reducing CO2 emissions are also major goals. Law enforcement and other public safety agencies are major influencers over infrastructure planning, and I was happy to present to dozens of men and women with badges and guns in Detroit.
The automakers and suppliers are already being courted by Next Gen players.
For example, LG Electronics has been a major sponsor of Mcity, the University of Michigan-led public-private R&D initiative for connected and automated mobility.
Sinclair Broadcast Group has been the foremost voice within the broadcasting industry for the ATSC 3.0 business case for connected cars.
Along with LG/Zenith, Sinclair has demonstrated ATSC 3.0 at Mcity and provided the signal for the monitor on an autonomous bus making loops around the 2018 NAB Show.
NAB PILOT has been highly engaged with the in-vehicle infotainment industry for TV and radio, including a major project with the Avis Budget Group in Kansas City.
The Road to ATSC 3.0 hub at the NAB Show, organized by ATSC and its members, featured a self-driving shuttle. And Pearl TV includes CAVs in its test plan for the Phoenix Model Market.
Infrastructure players must be included in broadcaster and CE outreach because they also will be major decision-makers for the future of ITS.
They are conducting many of the pilot projects and early deployments, developing the large-scale plans, and writing the requests for proposals for the roadways of the future.
They may have the largest say in specifying the telecom systems that will be the ITS lifeblood. In fact, the infrastructure side may be decisive for ATSC 3.0 adoption in vehicles.
In other words, a key to adoption is to ensure that ATSC 3.0-based services are written into the requirements for major transportation infrastructure projects.
A specification that the communications arrays in vehicles meet certain basic requirements, including interoperability, must be adopted, perhaps mandated, or else there will be no ITS.
The widespread use of ATSC 3.0 for vital services increases the odds that ATSC 3.0 receivers will be written into that spec.
The infrastructure approach may appear as a long-term endeavor, but scores of ITS testbeds, pilot projects, and smart city initiatives are underway and new ones are being launched regularly.
Standards are being developed now while spectrum wars are fought with an urgency familiar to broadcasters. Coalitions and forums have recently been formed to pursue interoperability among communications platforms, equipment, and spectrum bands. Multimillion dollar equipment orders are being placed.
Writing ATSC 3.0 into infrastructure pilots and subsequent build outs is a pure play for what I call “techno-political strategy.”
If business, technology, and policy were circles on a Venn diagram, techno-political strategy operates in that small space where the three circles intersect.
Success for Next Gen Broadcasting in ITS will require an integrated approach that focuses on this intersection.
Smart transportation also presents a near-perfect opportunity for public broadcasters. Allocating bandwidth and expertise to ITS provides a vital public service while potentially generating serious mission-centric revenue.
The Next Gen Media Innovation Lab has been launched by Michigan State University and WKAR to explore new public media ATSC 3.0 applications, including for CAVs.
Public broadcasting is perhaps America’s most successful public-private partnership. Extending its reach into coming public-private transportation projects would be a natural progression.
Order Of Magnitude
There are some parallels between the broadcast industry’s transition to ATSC 3.0 and the transportation industry’s transition to ITS.
Both industries face difficult and costly evolutions to next generation platforms. Both industries are working with new technical standards and interoperability with others. Both have a huge stake in content security. Both require the development and testing of new business models. And both face encroachment on their spectrum allocations.
However, transportation is a much bigger animal than broadcasting.
Plunkett Research places U.S. core transportation sector revenues at $1.2 trillion for 2017 vs. the estimate by Woods & Poole Economics of $53 billion for TV and radio broadcasting (2016).
In fact, at the 12.7% growth projected by Transparency Market Research, the ITS sector alone will surpass the current size of the entire broadcasting industry by 2024.
The transition to a truly intelligent, integrated transportation system also is exponentially more complex than the ATSC 3.0 conversion.
Almost none of the telecommunications infrastructure has been built. Interoperability among the complex web of ITS subsystems is a wickedly difficult challenge.
A host of other sticky issues must be resolved, including insurance, regulations, funding, public-private contracts, workforce development, and the reality than many jobs will be eliminated while many new ones are created.
Both broadcasting and ITS face cybersecurity threats. But if transportation gets it wrong, people die.
While the complexity of ITS may be great, staggering levels of investment are planned and already committed to make it happen.
Massive infusions of capital on a global scale from the private sector and governments are flowing to vehicles, road ways, telecommunications, planning, and design. Cities, states, and nations are racing to get there first on smart transportation.
The auto industry itself sees the writing on the wall and is investing huge sums on the coming “mobility as a service” model.
On May 31, the Softbank Vision Fund announced that it is investing $2.25 billion in Cruise, the arm of General Motors tasked with developing fully self-driving cars. GM itself is investing another $1 billion in the same unit.
On the same day, Google’s Waymo spin-off announced a deal with Fiat Chrysler for an additional 62,000 autonomous minivans, which will increase its fleet of robot taxis 100 times.
All the big Silicon Valley companies are reportedly investing in a wide range of start-ups just to “see what sticks.” And the FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided for an increase in transportation investments of $10 billion, and much of that will make its way into ITS.
The Case For Next-Gen Broadcasting
The Intelligent Transportation Sector (ITS) will be a massive industry. It will save lives and change lives while producing large cash flows and economic multipliers.
But what is the opportunity for Next Gen Broadcasting? In-vehicle infotainment is certainly a big one for automakers, suppliers, and broadcasters.
At the 2018 ATSC Next Gen TV Conference, Dr. Jeffrey Cole of the USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism predicted that people will consume more video in the car than any place but the home.
The focus of ITS Detroit 2018, however, was connectivity and data – especially data, Big Data.
CAVs will be rolling data centers. ITS will require massive amounts of digital information to move from vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and infrastructure-to-vehicle (I2V). The term V2X has been coined to mean “vehicle to everything” and ‘everything to the vehicle.”
The V2V and V2I data will be handled by short range communications using the 5.9 GHz band allocated for transportation (if they can keep it) and 5G cellular.
The major opportunity for Next Gen broadcasters is I2V, through which tremendous amounts of data will need to be distributed on a reliable, low-cost, one-to-many basis to vehicles and infrastructure alike.
Panasonic has predicted that each of the 105 million connected cars it expects to be on U.S. highways in 2024 will send and receive 20 terabytes of data per hour.
Some portion of that data will need to be pushed to cars from central sources, and broadcasting can do a lot to share that load.
ATSC 3.0 use cases abound. Traffic management centers (TMCs) in every metropolitan area need to transmit data for traffic incident management, roadway weather conditions, and efficient flow.
Changing traffic patterns around work zones must be signaled to vehicles in order to protect roadside workers and prevent traffic jams. Navigation and other telematic information must be distributed to many vehicles simultaneously. Firmware updates for all the digital systems in cars and on the roadside present a clear use case for ATSC 3.0.
GM engineers have mapped 100,000 miles of freeways for its Super Cruise technology, which will be available in all Cadillac models starting in 2020. GM intends to update the mapping software in each of those cars on a quarterly basis. If built out nationally, Next Gen Broadcasting could distribute the large files needed for those navigation updates to all those Cadillacs at a fraction of the cost of other solutions.
Another major one-to-many application is data security. As described by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), as CAV applications exchange information among vehicles, roadway infrastructure, TMC’s, and wireless devices, a security system is needed to ensure that users can trust the validity of information received from other anonymous users.
For this reason, the USDOT is partnering with the industry to design and develop the Security Credential Management System (SCMS).
SCMS will use a Public Key Infrastructure-based approach. Authorized system participants will use encrypted digital certificates issued by the SCMS to authenticate and validate the safety and mobility messages at the core of ITS technologies.
To protect the privacy of vehicle owners, these certificates will contain no personal or equipment-identifying information but serve as system credentials so that other users in the system can trust the source of each message.
These certificates will have to be issued on a continuous basis to all vehicles and the roadway devices they communicate with.
Although each certificate may not require much data, the fact that they will have to be continuously distributed to potentially millions of devices in a metropolitan area would seem to open up real possibilities for Next Gen Broadcasting.
Hybrid networks between ATSC 3.0 and short-range V2I networks also could open the door to partnerships. The concept would be highly attractive to transportation stakeholders because the 5.9 GHz band, currently reserved for transportation, is under attack.
The cable industry and its allies are gaining support at the FCC to open transportation’s 75 MHz allocation to “shared use” for wireless broadband through gigabit WiFi networks.
ITS stakeholders are pushing back mightily, but know they are in a use-it-or-lose-it situation.
Innovative ideas to use ATSC 3.0 in hybrid configurations to stimulate greater utilization of the 5.9 GHz band would be met with great interest by the ITS industry.
Perhaps the best use case of all is system redundancy. When the electric grid goes down, internet lines are cut, or the system is hacked, Next Gen can play a literally vital role. Messaging pushed out by ATSC 3.0 signals from the TMC could be the last line of defense preventing total chaos on the streets and highways.
The Smart Play May Not Be Cash
Although there could be a business case for using Next Gen Broadcasting as a commodity pipe to carry data from TMC’s on a cash-for-bandwidth basis, other arrangements might provide greater value for broadcasters.
For example, the real money in ITS will be in mining Big Data from all those connected cars (see market cap of Facebook and Google).
A deal with a road agency might see a broadcaster providing spectrum for alerting or weather information as a public service but, instead of cash, gaining some level of access to the massive amounts of data being collected every minute from millions of vehicles.
Or consider the value to broadcasters if they achieve their aspirational goal of getting ATSC 3.0 receivers into tens of millions of vehicles. It would be a true game-changer.
As noted above, connected cars, by definition, must have telecom equipment to connect them. Providing bandwidth at no cost for emergency messaging or traffic incident management could spur road agency requirements that ATSC 3.0 receivers be built into that equipment.
That would open the door to delivering not only telematic data, but in-vehicle infotainment from broadcasters, which is the brass, or gold, ring we all are reaching for.
For any cash or non-cash bandwidth play, value-added services will produce a greater return for spectrum holders than commodity distribution.
For example, the identified need for TMC’s to distribute weather conditions to vehicles along a corridor creates an obvious opportunity for a TV station to leverage their weather forecasting assets. Same with news assets for highway alerting.
So, what should broadcasters be doing now to participate in the connected car market? Continued outreach to automakers, OEM’s and aftermarket suppliers for in-car entertainment is an absolute priority.
The relationships among these players and the infrastructure decision-makers is complex, and mass adoption of ATSC 3.0 in CAV’s will require support from all.
Regarding infrastructure specifically, here are some suggestions:
Learn. ITS is dauntingly complicated but practically inevitable. Understanding this emerging industry could be a key to broadcasting’s survival.
Even for the broadcasting professionals who are, somehow, still in the dark about ATSC 3.0, automotive remains the bread and butter of current ad sales, and they should at least understand where their best clients are headed.
Evangelize. Awareness of Next Gen Broadcasting was very close to zero among people I met and presented to at the ITSA Detroit meeting.
Even if they began to understand my message, their communications focus now is on solving short-range V2V and V2I. But their attention must soon include I2V, and the seeds should be planted for ATSC 3.0 now.
Model. Build out use cases for commercial and public services. Look beyond cash-for-bandwidth to the value of Big Data and ATSC 3.0 receiver penetration. The goal is to produce win-wins with ROI for carmakers and broadcasters while creatively meeting the broader goals of the public sector.
Reach out. Find out who are running the smart city initiatives in one or more key markets and begin to acquaint them with Next Gen. Sit down with your state department of transportation leadership and your governor. Consider joining the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, which provides a great forum for the private and public sectors to work through deployment challenges. Build the relationships you will need to make your stations players in the ITS future.
Engage. Connected vehicle pilot projects have sprung up all over the country. USDOT is supporting major deployment programs in New York City, Tampa, and Wyoming and proving grounds in ten other locations.
The Arizona Connected Vehicle Test Bed is a large and established project, and Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors and Nissan, among others, test vehicles in the desert surrounding Phoenix. Kansas City, which aims to be “the smartest city in America,” is a partner in the CAV project with NAB PILOT and Avis Budget.
Many more projects are underway in universities, cities, and states across America. Getting ATSC 3.0 into these testbeds is a tangible near-term goal and long-term pathway into ITS.
Interoperate. Stakeholder forums and consortia, such as the Vehicle to Infrastructure Deployment Coalition, have already been organized to work through the enormous challenges of interoperability and other issues.
The ability of ATSC 3.0 to seamlessly integrate with the emerging ITS network of networks can make or break success in the CAV market.
All of this brings us back to advanced emergency alerting. The AWARN Alliance is dedicated to enabling broadcasters and emergency authorities to deliver geo-targeted, rich media alerts to any ATSC 3.0 device.
One of our goals is to help drive consumer adoption of Next Gen by giving consumers life-saving information at their fingertips – or dashboards. The use case for advanced alerting for advanced cars is compelling.
So, it should surprise no one that competitors for advanced alerting are emerging. On the last day of the Detroit meeting, I waited my turn for a ride in a demonstration vehicle equipped by video systems provider Iteris, technology giant Siemens and Sirius XM satellite radio.
The first six of seven use cases demonstrated all involved shortrange V2V and V2I interactions, such as pedestrian detection and wrong way entrance warnings.
But the seventh use case was, you guessed it, an advanced emergency alert from Sirius XM. It rerouted the vehicle around a fictional gas leak.
The intelligent transportation market is attracting major telecom players; Sirius XM is just one relatively small one. The big wireless carriers are circling with vague but extravagant promises about 5G.
USDOT is working with Ford as they begin testing prototype cellular V2X devices at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Test Center, one of the ten proving ground projects funded by the agency.
Chipmaker Qualcomm is promoting its own cellular V2X solution. And cable is trying to muscle into the 5.9 GHz transportation band for wireless broadband, as we’ve seen.
Despite these challenges, Next Gen Broadcasting provides major competitive advantages for certain essential applications. But broadcasters must become embedded in early deployments and take a seat at the table for ITS telecom planning. A techno-political strategy is needed to ensure ATSC 3.0 catches the autonomous bus.