Korean mobile telco SK Telecom and US media company Sinclair Broadcast Group have unveiled Cast.era, a joint venture located in Arlington, Virginia focused on cloud infrastructure for broadcasting, ultra-low latency over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting, and targeted advertising.
Kevin Gage, formerly EVP, Strategic Development & Chief Technology Officer of Sinclair’s ONE Media subsidiary has been appointed Cast.era’s Lead Representative and Chief Operating Officer, and Park Kyung-mo from SK Telecom has been appointed Cast.era’s Chief Technology Officer.
With the aim to launch next-generation transmission services using both mobile and fixed broadcasting networks for the first time in the US, Cast.era plans to provide ATSC 3.0 broadcast solutions to Sinclair stations deploying the new standard beginning in 2020.
ATSC 3.0 is a suite of Next Generation Broadcast TV transmission standards that deliver not only ultra-high definition video and improved audio, but also enable targeted advertising, advanced emergency alerting and other data transmission capabilities.
ATSC 3.0, which works over-the-air, can also be converged with mobile and other IP networks to create a broadcast-broadband hybrid stream. Broadcasters will be able to enhance the customer experience by combining ATSC 3.0 one-way signals with mobile and other IP networks that support two-way data communication.
SK Telecom and Sinclair expect to achieve synergies by combining SK Telecom’s telecommunication technologies and Sinclair’s broadcasting infrastructure. Projecting that all television stations in the US will ultimately deploy services using the new ATSC 3.0 standard, the two companies will actively pursue opportunities in the US market.
Cast.era intends to build a cloud infrastructure for ATSC 3.0 broadcasting by applying SK Telecom’s cloud technologies including mobile edge computing (MEC), cloud structure management technology named ‘SKT All Container Orchestrator (TACO)’ and virtual network solution named ‘Simply Overlay Network Architecture (SONA)’ to Sinclair’s broadcasting systems. SK Telecom’s cloud infrastructure will permit virtualised and automated merging of both Internet and broadcast platforms using centralised services. Based on MEC technologies, Cast.era plans to introduce new media services applied with augmented reality.
Cast.era will also focus on introducing ultra-low latency OTT broadcasting services based on SK Telecom’s mobile MPEG Media Transport (MMT) technologies that enable transmission of high-definition video for diverse multimedia applications, such as Sinclair’s local news and sports content. These services will allow users to enjoy high-quality video content seamlessly in a mobile environment including travelling in vehicles.
Moreover, Cast.era aims to secure a competitive edge in the future advertising market by adding targeted advertising to TV broadcasting based on big data analytics.
At CES 2020, SK Telecom has successfully showcased news and sports broadcasting through the ATSC 3.0 broadcasting solution by receiving Sinclair’s television station (KSNV) in Las Vegas.
The two companies also agreed to work together for further advancement of high-quality broadcasting services based on 5G and ATSC 3.0. They plan to establish a 5G-ATSC 3.0 testbed in Jeju Technopark in Korea and also apply 5G-ATSC 3.0 solutions to Sinclair’s television station (WJLA) located in Washington, D.C.
Furthermore, SK Telecom and Sinclair will make joint efforts for standardisation of technologies at international standardisation bodies including ATSC, 3GPP and MPEG.
“We are confident that Cast.era will lead the ATSC 3.0 market in the US,” said Lee Jong-min, Vice President and Head of Tech Innovation Group of SK Telecom. “We expect to deliver a new experience to US TV viewers through ATSC 3.0-based broadcasting services that combine the strengths of mobile and broadcasting networks.”
“The combination of two of the world’s leading telecom companies with independent and complementary visions of convergence marks Cast.era as a formidable new player in maximising the strengths of both, using the remarkable capabilities of the new broadcast standard,” said Del Parks, Chief Technology Officer of Sinclair. “With our partners in Cast.era, we look forward to remaining at the forefront of platform and service innovation.”
“It is an honour to lead this new venture between two visionary companies and leaders in their industries,” said Gage. “We look forward to driving the innovative thinking of their vision and provide new services that will transform the wireless and digital ecosystems.”