Tower at night with stars

ATSC 3.0 Q&A

Tower at night with stars

An Interview with Peter Starke

Peter Starke
The development of ATSC 3.0 represents the broadcasting industry’s transition into a digital platform. Peter Starke, American Tower’s Vice President of Broadcast, has over 30 years of experience in broadcasting and answers some of the most commonly asked questions regarding ATSC 3.0.

Q. In a nutshell, what is the significance of ATSC 3.0?

A. The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), in collaboration with over 125 member organizations, has developed the next generation of TV–ATSC 3.0. It is the world's first IP-based broadcast service, reflecting the evolution from traditional Over-The-Air (OTA) television to a suite of video, audio and data transmission capabilities and services. This ATSC 3.0 transmission standard is the glue enabling broadcast protocol to exist in an internet environment and offer innovative technologies, such as:

4K Ultra HD

4K Ultra HD

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range

Wide Color Gamut

Wide Color Gamut

High Frame Rate

 High Frame Rate (60 FPS)

Q. How does ATSC 3.0 benefit your business?

A. ATSC 3.0 will unlock new opportunities for broadcasters and their advertising-based business model, such as:

Q. What effect will ATSC 3.0 have on your existing equipment and infrastructure?

A.  Although an ATSC 3.0 system won’t necessarily require a wholesale change of equipment and infrastructure, some changes must occur. Luckily, most new equipment needed for 3.0 will be more versatile and economically expandable through software updates, potentially extending equipment life.

Any changes to a transmission system mounted on a tower, or on the ground, that require larger or higher-powered RF equipment modifications may also result in changes to the tower and ground-based support infrastructure. As a part of 3.0 planning you will need to:

  • Evaluate tower structural loading and physical space to consider the impact of any change in equipment on the tower

  • Evaluate building and mechanical system for transmitter power increase due to addition of Vpol component

Q. What steps can you take in the near future to ease the transition and future proof your business for the ATSC 3.0 rollout?

A. Early planning is critical to take full advantage of ATSC 3.0’s many capabilities. The first step is to create a blueprint of the desired capabilities, their relative importance and how they will be implemented. It’s a complex task that will require coordination from multiple departments within a station, or a group of stations, but it will help in understanding which combination of new 3.0 services to employ and the subsequent tradeoffs between robustness and bandwidth.

It is also important to account for both 3.0 and the spectrum repack together. With the industry conversion to 3.0 following shortly after the repack, it makes good economic sense to plan for the 3.0 conversion at the same time as planning to move to a new channel assignment. Proper planning could save the cost of doing tower work twice.

Q. Given the close timeline for the launch of ATSC 3.0 and the pending spectrum repack, what equipment considerations should you make?

A. When adopting ATSC 3.0, broadcasters should identify any potential redundancies for tower or equipment work to save investment costs by not having to do tower work twice: once as a result of the spectrum repack and another time to optimize for 3.0.

Note: All stations required to move to a new channel assignment are eligible for repack reimbursement, with the FCC’s fund paying for equipment that is equivalent to their current equipment, plus approved costs for planning and installation and removal of equipment. The FCC will reimburse eligible RF-system, tower and transmission site expenses. 

For More Information

American Tower, in collaboration with 12 leading broadcasters and manufacturers, has developed the ATSC 3.0 Transition and Deployment Guide to support ATSC 3.0 implementation.

View the Guide chevron-red.png

To ask your own question, contact Peter Starke at peter.starke@americantower.com