Sinclair announces 40 U.S. cities getting ATSC 3.0 by 2020

LAS VEGAS—Sinclair and its joint venture ONE Media held a press conference on Monday during the NAB Show to offer details about plans to launch ATSC 3.0 next-generation TV in the U.S.

Broadcasters including Sinclair, Nexstar, Fox Television Stations and NBCUniversal along with industry consortiums including SpectrumCo and Pearl TV announced 40 U.S. markets that will be getting ATSC 3.0 by the end of 2020. Those markets include Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Seattle-Tacoma, Washington; Detroit, Michigan; Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Antonio, Texas.

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston and Atlanta were listed among other major markets where work is now underway to identify next-gen TV stations in the coming months.

The press conference featured David Smith, chairman of the Sinclair Broadcast Group; Joseph Lee, vice president of technology innovation at SK Telecom; Mark Aitken, president of ONE Media; John Hane, CEO of SpectrumCo; and Parag Naik, CEO of Saankhya Labs.

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In addition to the panel of speakers, an ATSC 3.0 broadcast radio head was on display at the press conference. Aitken described the head as 5G broadcast technology and said the plan is to co-locate the devices on existing cellular radio towers in the U.S.

Saankhya Labs, which showed off its 5G broadcast solution at this year’s Mobile World Congress, described its new solution as a convergence of broadcast and broadband technology, or as “cellularizing” a broadcast network. The company said its low power low tower, broadcast radio head architecture wherein the transmitters radiate 20W to 100W would require approximately one broadcast head for every five to six 4G base stations.

A smartphone with an ATSC 3.0 receiver and tuner dongle attached was also on display at the press conference. Aitken said the device uses the phone as the video and audio interface and that a mobile app is used for changing channels.

Besides mobile reception, features and services being hyped as part of ATSC 3.0 include improved over-the-air reception, immersive audio, deeper indoor reception, zoned programming/advertising, automotive services and advanced emergency alerting.

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Smith kicked off the press conference and described ATSC 3.0 as essential to the future of the broadcast industry.

“I often get credit for this thing called [ATSC] 3.0,” said Smith. “I’m just the guy who writes the check for it.”

He said ATSC 3.0 will be a huge opportunity for broadcasters specifically because of the data they will be able to collect within 3.0’s IP-based delivery system that establishes two-way communication between broadcasters and viewers.