While ATSC 3.0 ushers in exciting new capabilities such as the delivery of 4K-quality shows, targeted ads and mobile services, implementing this next-generation DTV standard can prove challenging and disruptive.
With its Vision-ATSC cloud-based, enterprise-level content monitoring and analysis solution, Qligent empowers broadcasters to accurately monitor the many layers and protocols that are unique to the ATSC 3.0 standard, and analyze performance through to the last mile.
Vision-ATSC is a software module within the Qligent Vision cloud-based monitoring solution, a broad toolset for monitoring and analyzing the Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) characteristics of multiplatform broadcast signals from the encoder out to the last mile. At the 2018 NAB Show (April 9-12, Las Vegas Convention Center, Booth N5914), Qligent will demonstrate its ability to evaluate the integrity of ATSC 3.0 signals relative to best practices and performance benchmarks.
Qligent experts will also exhibit how broadcasters can use Vision-ATSC to baseline RF performance today, and prepare for a clean transition to monitor, analyze and troubleshoot the broader subset of layers and signals within ATSC 3.0’s native IP architecture. The same common off-the-shelf hardware configuration will support ATSC 1.0 today and ATSC 3.0 when broadcasters are ready to migrate.
“For broadcasters adopting ATSC 3.0, this transition is actually a complex forklift upgrade to a completely different DTV standard—in fact, a set of over 20 different standards—involving new multi-layered protocols and native IP streaming,” said Ted Korte, Qligent’s Chief Operating Officer. “Broadcasters will be moving signals in new ways and along new paths. We’re preparing our customers with a software-defined toolset and workflow that will have them prepared to comprehend over-the-air performance in a radically different content delivery system.
The ATSC 3.0 standard will open new business models and opportunities for broadcasters that are largely due to its inherent IP networking attributes. Vision-ATSC poses valuable benefits to Lighthouse station operations, Co-Los (co-located stations sharing either ATSC 1.0 or 3.0 transmission infrastructure), channel sharing, single-frequency networks, and service level agreements (SLAs) that will become common in an ATSC 3.0 universe.
“Consider these pioneering Lighthouse stations, where one TV station in the market agrees to deliver ATSC 3.0 programming on behalf of other stations in the market,” Korte explains. “Vision-ATSC provides fair, real-time oversight for all parties to the agreement, offering proof of how signals are routed between the partner and Lighthouse stations, or the number of bits being devoted to one of the partner’s streams. With Vision-ATSC, Lighthouse parties can make sure they’re all receiving the level of service they agreed upon in a nice, clear and friendly way. It provides greater visibility of the shared operation, including a confidence multiviewer, compliance monitoring, recording, trouble-shooting support, an audit trail, and a detailed as-run report of actual RF transmission parameters.”
Since Vision-ATSC evaluates both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 signals, broadcasters can use Vision-ATSC to establish a baseline of ATSC 1.0 performance and provide monitoring and oversight throughout the ATSC 3.0 transition for greater operational continuity. Vision-ATSC monitors and analyzes ATSC 3.0-specific protocols, such as ROUTE-DASH and MPEG Media Transport (MMT), as well as the multiple 4K/HDR/WCG/UHD signals, HEVC encoding, MPEG-H immersive audio, datacasting and mobile reception that are inherent to ATSC 3.0.
“Vision-ATSC in the last mile can quickly, easily and cost-efficiently scale to address any sized network—an important benefit given that ATSC 3.0 systems will, in many cases, be deployed as single-frequency networks (SFNs) that include networked transmitter sites,” Korte adds. “With SFNs, the RF signal must be synchronous between the towers to extend signal reception, especially for mobile receivers, at the periphery of the coverage area. If the timing is off between SFN transmitters, this negatively impacts the viewer experience.”
Vision-ATSC provides broadcasters with an easy-to-use cloud-based workflow that correlates and analyzes multi-layer data from nine distinct points along a signal path that spans from the broadcast gateway input sources to the antenna’s RF output. Four data points of direct multi-layer stream analysis, and five data points from vendor equipment, are reported throughout the ATSC 3.0 ecosystem. This data illuminates system configuration changes, problems and other issues so broadcasters can take steps to quickly optimize their ATSC 3.0 service.
“Ecosystem is the most important word here. When faced with a forklift-like upgrade like ATSC 3.0, it’s imperative to have products that will be part of a harmonious end-to-end system,” said Korte. “Vision-ATSC is made to deliver full oversight and peace of mind to broadcasters facing one of the most disruptive – yet beneficial – changes in the history of television.”