ATSC 3.0 is a major version of the ATSC standards and was created by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). ATSC 3.0 will support mobile television, 3D television, 4K UHD, high dynamic range (HDR), high frame rate (HFR), and wide color gamut (WCG). ATSC 3.0 comprises around 20 standards covering different aspects of the system and in total will have over 1,000 pages of documentation. South Korean broadcasters plan to begin ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in February 2017.
ATSC 3.0 uses a bootstrap signal which allows a receiver to discover and identify the signals that are being transmitted. The bootstrap signal has a fixed configuration that can allow for new signal types to be used in the future.
ATSC 3.0 uses a physical layer that is based on orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation with low-density parity-check code (LDPC) FEC codes. With a 6 MHz channel the bit rate can vary from 1 Mbit/s to 57 Mbit/s depending on the parameters that are used. ATSC 3.0 can have up to 4 physical layer pipes (PLP) in a channel with different robustness levels used for each PLP. An example of how PLP can be used would be a channel that delivers HD video over a robust PLP and enhances the video to UHD with Scalable Video Coding over a higher bitrate PLP.
ATSC 3.0 supports three video formats: Legacy SD Video, Interlaced HD Video, and Progressive Video. Legacy SD Video and Interlaced HD Video support frame rates up to 60 fps and can only use the Rec. 709 color space. Legacy SD Video and Interlaced HD Video are included for compatibility with existing content and can't use HDR, HFR, or WCG.
- Legacy SD Video
- Interlaced HD Video
- Progressive Video
Progressive Video supports resolutions up to 3840×2160 progressive scan and supports HEVC Main 10 profile at Level 5.2 Main Tier. Progressive Video supports frame rates up to 120 fps and the Rec. 2020 color space. Progressive Video supports HDR using Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and Perceptual Quantizer (PQ).
ATSC 3.0 will provide even more services to the viewer and increased bandwidth efficiency and compression performance, which requires breaking backwards compatibility with the original ATSC system. ATSC 3.0 is expected to emerge within the next decade.
On March 26, 2013, the Advanced Television Systems Committee announced a call for proposals for the ATSC 3.0 physical layer which states that the plan is for the system to support video with a resolution of 3840×2160 at 60 fps (4K UHDTV).
In February 2014, a channel-sharing trial began between Los Angeles television stations KLCS (a Public broadcasting station associated with PBS) and KJLA, a commercial ethnic broadcaster owned-and-operated by LATV, with support from the CTIA and approval of the Federal Communications Commission. The test involved multiplexing multiple HD and SD subchannels together, experimenting with both current MPEG-2 / H.262 and MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 video codecs. Ultimately, it has been decided that H.264 would not be considered for ATSC-3.0, but rather the newer MPEG-H HEVC / H.265 codec would be used instead, with OFDM instead of 8VSB for modulation, allowing for 28 Mbit/s to 36 Mbit/s or more of bandwidth on a single 6-MHz channel.
In May 2015, and continuing on for six months afterward, the temporary digital transition transmitter and antenna of Cleveland, Ohio's Fox affiliate, WJW, will be used by the National Association of Broadcasters to test the "Futurecast" ATSC 3.0 standard advanced by LG Corporation and GatesAir. In September 2015 further tests in the Baltimore and Washington, DC area were announced by Sinclair Broadcast Group's Baltimore station, WBFF, which is also a Fox affiliate. The Futurecast system had previously been tested in October 2014 during off-air hours through Madison, Wisconsin ABC affiliate WKOW. Unlike ATSC 1.0/2.0's Distributed Transmission System's pseudo-single-frequency network operations, WI9XXT's two transmitters operate as a true Single Frequency Network.
Further tests began in on January 6, 2016 of ATSC 3.0 with High Dynamic Range (using the Scalable HEVC video codec with HE-AAC audio) from Las Vegas independent station, KHMP-LD on UHF 18. It would later be joined in these tests by Sinclair's CW affiliate, KVCW simulcasting on a temporary test frequency (UHF 45).
On March 28, 2016, the Bootstrap component of ATSC 3.0 (System Discovery and Signalling) was upgraded from candidate standard to finalized standard.
On June 29, 2016, NBC affiliate WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, a station known for its pioneering roles in testing the original DTV standards, launched an experimental ATSC 3.0 channel carrying the station's programming in 1080p, as well as a 4K demo loop.
On July 27, 2016, South Korean broadcasters adopted ATSC 3.0 and are planning to begin broadcasts of ATSC 3.0 in February 2017.
On January 6, 2017, LG Electronics announced that their 2017 4K TVs sold in South Korea would include ATSC 3.0 tuners.
On February 2, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which would allow for the deployment of ATSC 3.0. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comments on issues such as carriage obligations, interference, public interest obligations, simulcasting, and a tuner mandate. Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has stated that a TV tuner mandate is not necessary and that it should be market-driven and voluntary. On February 24, 2017, the FCC voted unanimously to approve two portions of the NPRM, opening the door for manufacturers to begin producing ATSC 3.0 hardware. However, the NPRM remains open for comments.
Unlike the transition from NTSC analog broadcast to ATSC 1.0 digital transmission, the FCC will not allocate a second channel to each broadcaster to enable a gradual consumer transition. Instead, it has been suggested that multiple broadcasters in each market cooperate by locating multiple degraded ATSC 1.0 services on a single "lighthouse" transmitter. At the same time, the broadcasters would share the remaining transmitters for ATSC 3.0 transmissions. After sufficient consumer adoption, ATSC 1.0 transmissions would be abandoned, allowing stations to return to operation on their owned transmitters. It is unclear how the complications of this approach would be overcome, especially in light of the pending spectrum auction which will reduce the amount of available spectrum in heavily populated markets.
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