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The US broadcasts its terrestrial signals under the ATSC format, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just approved a 6-month trial of Europe’s OFDM-based DVB-T2 standard. The trial will take place shortly on a Baltimore station between the hours of 1am-5am.
The rationale behind the trial is to use it as a test-bed for ‘next generation’ TV transmissions, which might even lead to nation-wide adoption leading to Ultra-HDTV.
The 6 month trial licence was granted on February 15th to WNUV-TV in Baltimore, owned by Cunningham Broadcasting which on a normal day is affiliated to the CW network. Cunningham say that other broadcasters, suppliers and industry trade associations will take part in the tests. WNUV will, more or less, supply its normal roster of overnight programme direct to cable operators, leaving the over-the-air signal free for the trials.
WNUV will then supply the results of the trials to NAB and others. It can, should it wish, seek to extend the trial.
Former FCC commissioner Richard Wiley, who supervised the adoption of ATSC, speaking at an event last Friday, said he thought a new transmission standard accommodating ultra-HDTV and multiplatform delivery was in broadcasting’s future, but says it might take up to a decade because it is not backward compatible-it will require new TV sets.
The first objectives of the trial are:
– Identify representative link budgets for a variety of use cases in different locations within the service area
– Determine how a scalable Quality of Service offering combined with flexible transmission attributes might facilitate the simultaneous provision of television broadcast to multiple viewing devices
– Provide data that may support the development of coverage and service contour matching techniques
– Confirm the ability of OFDM to support Ultra High-Definition television within the existing 6 MHz channel assignments
– Explore technological capabilities that could lead to the ability to evolve a future broadcast standard