If the incentive auction of TV spectrum is successful in the United States, governments and regulators from around the world will take notice and may implement similar measures, according to NAB’s Rick Kaplan.
The United States is a “cautionary tale” for television broadcasters around the world when it comes to spectrum and the desire of lawmakers and spectrum regulators to reclaim bandwidth, warned Rick Kaplan, NAB’s EVP, strategic planning, during the “FOBTV” session Monday at IBC 2014.
Kaplan’s comment reflected the concern of many U.S. broadcasters and the industry association over the upcoming FCC incentive auction and repack.
If the incentive auction is successful in the United States, governments and regulators from around the world will take notice and may implement similar measures, he said.
Kaplan was one of a full slate of presenters and panelists at the session put on by the Future of Broadcast Television, an organization of broadcasters, industry associations and research institutes on a mission to promote adoption of a common worldwide standard for digital television.
Joining Kaplan during the two-and-half hour session were: Rich Chernock, chief science officer of Triveni Digital and the chairman of ATSC’s Working Group developing the ATSC 3.0 next-generation digital television standard; Pete Klenner, research engineer, and Frank Hermann, project leader, Digital Broadcasting, Panasonic AVC, Langen Development Center; Pablo Angueira, professor, Department of Communications Engineering, Bilbao Faculty of Engineering, University of Basque Country; Wenjun Zhang, chief scientist, National Engineering Research Center of Digital Television; Tomhiro Saito, NHK; and Phil Laven, chairman, Digital Video Broadcasting Project.
Kaplan told those in attendance that repacking U.S. television spectrum will — by NAB estimates — affect 1,000 full-power television stations; however, he added, it is “up in the air” whether the incentive auction will even work.
While the FCC has made it clear that it is not going to slow down the auction process, Kaplan said he expects a delay — perhaps until the end of 2015 or into 2016 — before the auction commences. However, that delay likely will be insufficient to sync up the government’s move to take back TV broadcast spectrum with completion of the ATSC 3.0 standard.
“We could have two transitions back-to-back,” he said. Appeals to the FCC to slow down the process to time the auction with acceptance of the standard “don’t seem to be doing much right now,” falling on deaf ears.
“The politics in the [U.S.] is that mobile broadband is No. 1,” he said.
“Broadcasters, generally have been slow to innovate,” said Kaplan, adding that has put them in a weaker position relative to the wireless industry.
The session kicked off with an update from Chernock about the ongoing work at ATSC on the 3.0 standard. Chernock said it has been decided that the modulation technique selected for 3.0 will “have an OFDM-based waveform.”
Other areas where consensus has been reached include: IP transport for broadcast delivery of streaming and file content; the use of ISOBMFF (ISO Base Media File Format) as a content format for streaming delivery; and HEVC, or High Efficiency Video Coding, as the standard’s initial compression algorithm. However, like so many things with 3.0, HEVC can be replaced with a new compression technology that’s not even on the drawing boards today at some point in the future, he said.
Similarly, those developing the standard are targeting 4K ultra-HD as its initial high-resolution image format for fixed location viewing. However, if demand for 8K materializes, the standard can support the higher-resolution format, he added.
The standard, which will not be backwards compatible with today’s ATSC format, will allow sound to render adaptively to whatever speaker environment is in the home and includes support for an immersive, user-definable experience.
Besides transmission to the home, ATSC 3.0 also will support mobile transmission to smartphones and tablets, he added.
Angueira, professor at the University of Basque Country, presented an update on the work he is doing on LDM, or Layered Division Multiplexing, as a way of enhancing the capacity of a transmission system.
LDM, which grew out of the concept behind cloud transmission of data, has undergone field testing to determine its performance. It also is one of the candidates in the running for a piece of the physical layer of ATSC 3.0.
Displaying images of single- and double-decker busses in his slide presentation, Angueira said broadcasters could decide how much data to assign to each layer.
Klenner’s presentation focused on Multiple Input-Multiple Output, or MIMO, as a way to enhance data carrying capacity of a broadcast transmission system. “Multiple antennas increase the data rate without bandwidth expansion,” he said.
He added that DVB-NGH is the first broadcast system to employ “pure” MIMO transmission and reception.
NHK’s Saito updated the audience on the Japanese Broadcasting Corp.’s efforts to deploy 8K ultra-HD television transmission and reception in time for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Zhang, who works with NERC-DTV in Shanghai, talked about the state of television today in China, and discussed the elements of a viable approach.
During the question-and-answer portion of the program, one audience member asked the speakers if FOBTV isn’t, in effect, working toward the ultimate demise of broadcast television by developing standards and systems that are so efficient that regulators will never stop taking back spectrum based on the premise that more TV can be transmitted in tighter allocations.
In response, Kaplan said broadcasters must demonstrate to lawmakers why they need their spectrum, and the best way to do that is through innovation. “Lawmakers can feel and touch [smartphones and tablets] as new developments come along,” he said. “We haven’t been able to prove that we can be as innovative,” he added.
Another question looked for the one technological reason the world has been unable to achieve a unified television broadcast standard.
Panelist looked as if they felt a bit uncomfortable, and for a long moment no answer was forthcoming. Encouraged by the discussion leader on stage to answer, the Digital Video Broadcasting Project’s Laven said there really isn’t a technology-related reason, attributing the fragmented world of TV transmission standards to the “not-built-here” perspective.
For more on IBC 2014, click here.