BitPath, CAST.ERA, ONE Media Demonstrate ‘Enhanced GPS’ Via ATSC 3.0

Using the high-power data transmission capacity of terrestrial broadcast stations, the reliability of eGPS positioning can be broadcast to an unlimited number of vehicles inside of the range of a licensed broadcast television station.

BitPath, CAST.ERA and ONE Media demonstrated what they called “dramatic new use cases” for the NextGen TV standard (ATSC 3.0) on June 2.

GPS enhancement data was broadcast, proving the ability to enhance the accuracy of the Global Positioning System (GPS) significantly, debuting a major new tool for autonomous vehicle navigation. Dubbed “Enhanced GPS” (eGPS), positional accuracy of centimeters is possible.

Additionally, a drone incorporating eGPS and a 5G radio was used to show the potential of “Beyond Visual Line of Sight” observation and live imagery with near real-time broadcast of gathered live images, paving the way for multiple new use cases including news and first responder applications. Traditional space-based global positioning systems are vulnerable to low power and environmentally induced inaccuracies.

Using the high-power data transmission capacity of terrestrial broadcast stations, the reliability of eGPS positioning can be broadcast to an unlimited number of vehicles inside of the range of a licensed broadcast television station, overcoming many encumbrances. Enhanced GPS accuracy using NextGen Broadcast from multiple broadcast towers can improve real-time positioning for the millions of unmanned, autonomous vehicles of the future that are ground or aerial based because of broadcasting’s higher power and one-to-infinite architecture. Enhanced GPS ushers in a new era of datacasting use cases for broadcasters.

Providing near realtime broadcasting of live images opens the door for a variety of news and first responder observation and inspection possibilities, as well as aerial drone operation beyond line of sight. Live event reporting for electronic news gathering operations using NextGen Broadcast technologies means that entire regions can simultaneously see events as they unfold. It also means that broad situational awareness can be brought to the first responder and emergency services community to assess required deployment resources on a one-to-many basis.

These are only a few of the immediate possibilities, the groups say. Testing of eGPS and aerial observation capabilities was orchestrated by CAST.ERA, the joint venture between Sinclair and SK Telecom from South Korea, in conjunction with Doosan and South Korean broadcaster, MBC. Using advanced drone technology combined with the NextGen Broadcast-enabled eGPS, today’s demonstration permitted supervised autonomous drone takeoff, flights and landing at extraordinarily precise locations.


The provision of end-to-end live video also brought “stunning clarity to the unlimited observers within broadcast coverage areas,” the companies said.

Commenting on this important proof of concept, John Hane, president of BitPath said: “Today’s demonstration shows one of many high value, low bandwidth applications for broadcast data. Location services are more important to the economy every day. Applications extend from all transportation sectors to energy distribution, smart cities, public safety, and cyber security. BitPath looks forward to working with our partners and other broadcasters to add new dimensions to broadcasters’ public interest services.”

Kevin Gage, CAST.ERA’s chief operating officer, said: “We are excited to demonstrate the innovation from our 2020 JeJu Island project here in the U.S. Data services, cloud management of ATSC 3.0 services and ultra-low latency media encoding are just a few of the new technologies we plan to release this year. The eGPS project highlights each of these technologies over a hybrid ATSC 3.0-5G delivery network.”

Mark Aitken, ONE Media 3.0’s president, said: “We continue to work with our partners to improve the utility of NextGen Broadcasting dramatically and bring value to the communities we serve with innovative and informative content. This activity today was focused on bringing to the forefront the contribution we can make to the security and safety of those we serve every day.”

Yoon Kim, chief technology officer of SK Telecom, said: “Hybrid ATSC 3.0 powered by 5G, media, data and artificial intelligence technologies brings significant change and opportunity for the future of broadcasting. The synergistic amalgamation of SK Telecom’s 5G, AI and cloud technologies combined with Sinclair’s vision of and leadership in broadcasting will continue to position CAST.ERA as a leader in the NextGen Broadcasting market.”

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SunnyAnd75 says:

June 3, 2021 at 11:32 am

During the 2003 Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft offered up one vision on what a push-technology future could look like. With none other than Bill Gates helping to make the pitch, the company showed off a subscription network called DirectBand (also known as MSN Direct), which sent short text updates over radio signals to devices like watches, coffee makers, alarm clocks, and magnets using a technology called SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology). Essentially, Microsoft tried to invent the Internet of Things using 2003 technology … using FM radio subcarriers.

It was a strange idea at the time despite basically directly predicting the success of the smart watch a little more than a decade later. In fact, Microsoft’s network helped bring to life some formative smartphones, most notably a model from Fossil that literally used Dick Tracy branding. The problem was that it was a one-way medium. Your friends could text you to your heart’s delight, but your Dick Tracy watch could not reply.

The Microsoft network was generally forgotten by most of the public throughout the first decade of the 2000s, but it did find some niche use cases, particularly in Garmin GPS devices, where its ability to pull in traffic notifications and weather forecasts was notably useful. But the technology was not successful enough to stick around, and by the end of 2009, Microsoft had announced the service would reach its end of life by 2012.

But hey, it’s now year 2021 and what about autonomous vehicles? The leader in this space, Tesla, owns and operates a new nationwide network- Starlink. For automotive applications, Starlink is 3.0 on steroids. If Tesla has a need for eGPS, they could easily launch it on their own platform. Unlike 1-way terrestrial 3.0, their own satellites offer 2-way communications, 2-way internet, and video delivery to a car, nationwide.

I’m not saying these things to poo poo 3.0, but as broadcasters, we also need to be realistic about what we’re up against. We do have a powerful tool, 1-way communication to masses, but it does have limits. As broadcasters, we know how to serve our community arguably better than anyone else. I feel we should focus our efforts in these areas. New business opportunities are always welcome, but it’s a very competitive space, and we need to realize what we’re up against.

Insider says:

June 3, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Trees are a serious issue for Starlink. Just read any of the real user reports on Reddit. Between trees and buildings, not to mention the drop outs in the service, renders Starlink unsuitable for eGPS of a moving vehicle needing real time data down to a centimeter level.