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Heartland Video Systems Interviews with ATSC 3.0 Integration Experts Reveal New Trends and Advice

At NAB 2022 Heartland Video Systems created an exhibit that included technology from 13 ATSC 3.0 suppliers integrated into three live broadcast chains. Recent follow up interviews with these participants asked what changes they saw and for advice to deal with it.

NAB 2022 has passed, but the lessons learned from a unique exhibit organized by Heartland Video Systems continue to grow in value. Heartland’s exhibit integrated the technology of 13 ATSC 3.0 technology suppliers into three live ATSC 3.0 broadcast chains in a physical demonstration of ATSC 3.0 interoperability.

Heartland President Dennis Klas noticed that visitors to his exhibit were asking different questions than had been asked at events in the past: “We had  fewer questions about the basic implementation of physical ATSC 3.0 infrastructure and more questions about how to make the ATSC 3.0 transition useful for both broadcasters and consumers. They  also wanted to know what the killer app would be that would bring more consumer engagement.”

The shift in interest toward the on impact consumers was reflected in a series of interviews conducted with some of the ATSC 3.0 suppliers whose technologies reflected the changes Dennis observed.

Rohde and Schwarz’s Graziano Casale, National Account Manager for Broadcast, said, “Our discussions with customers have become more nuanced because ATSC 3.0 signals can be optimized for a wider variety of functions. This impacts how we help clients set up the RF part of their network. After we discuss the legacy transmitter and antenna, we switch to the technology needed to support business models they are pursuing. Should they be considering use of an SFN, LDM, MIMO, or multi subframe?”

Keyur Parikh, GatesAir’s Vice President of Engineering, understands that the new consumer-facing opportunities with ATSC 3.0 are enabled by data. When a broadcast signal functions as a data stream, quality of signal becomes more important. Says Parikh, “Integrating IP directly into the exciter has varying challenges. We had to mitigate impairments such as packet loss, jitter, and re-ordering. To mitigate them, we ensured that we supported a higher level of FEC and seamless switching to ensure we can handle packet losses. We also had to increase our upfront re-sequencing buffer to handle a higher order of out of order packets as well as increased jitter. Both were observed on several operational WAN networks.”

Some suppliers offered advice on dealing with ATSC 3.0 changes. Said Fred Ramsey, Director of Sales, North America, at ATEME, “SDI is a very defined and specific standard. Conversely, ‘IP’ can mean many different things. The key comes down to inter-connection, making sure that all high-speed I/O interfaces will be compatible with other elements of the plant infrastructure.”

Joonyoung Park, SVP and Fellow at DigiCAP recommends learning about the physical layer of ATSC 3.0 early on: “One completely new feature of ATSC 3.0 compared to ATSC 1.0 is the physical layer. From 8VSB to OFDM, adding PLP (Physical Layer Pipe), you can now set different modulation and coding, forward error correction, etc., for each PLP. Most of the vendors, if not all, offer this feature as a stand-alone subsystem called “Scheduler,” meaning a system that schedules spectrum resources. Scheduler adds great flexibility and efficiency to the use of the broadcast spectrum, and with it comes added complexity. We had to very carefully craft the system control UI to make the system setting and operation as painless as possible, but still a new concept requires user training.”

Ralph Bachofen, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Triveni Digital, advises that when an ATSC 3.0 system is being designed, system security needs a serious review. “ATSC 1.0 signals were rarely compromised, but ATSC 3.0 is designed for integration with IP systems, including the public internet. We recommend using a reliable protocol such as SRT while transporting over public internet. Use IT security, firewalls, and platform OS security. Secure remote access is key.

Bruno Tariant, Sales Vice President, Americas, at ENENSYS Technologies, advises designing a system that uses data management to ensure the flow of accurate data. Says Tariant, “Server and IT design must be well prepared: Control and data traffic, multiple data network for different content (contribution, ATSC 3.0 route and signaling, STLTP…), use or not of multiple VLAN. Definitively, having a clearly defined IP plan for new machines is a key to our success. Multicast IP streams are not necessarily well managed by the network (Ethernet switches, router…) and should be sometimes isolated to avoid network flooding.”

To ensure the quality flow of data, Shimon Shanor, VP Sales at Videoflow, advises extending the ATSC 3.0 monitoring and control system to include activities not needed in an ATSC 1.0 system, such as monitoring for the ATSC 3.0 light house and SFNs. Says Shanor, “With the greater complexity of ATSC 3.0 systems, anticipation for disaster recovery and future upgrades should be considered.”

Most consumer-facing services will require cloud processing. Jovo Miskin, Senior Product Manager at Synamedia, offered advice on moving ATSC 3.0 workflow into the cloud: “In a cloud environment you can finely tune all interfaces between processing components more efficiently. Additionally, the ability to route DASH streams from the ATSC 3.0 packager in multiple ways, including local origin storage, is invaluable for troubleshooting interoperability problems with various transport encoders. Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that IP connectivity enables clean network segment separation between DASH, ROUTE and STLTP interfaces, and at the same time it enables convenient resiliency modes.”

Jing Zhou, ATSC Solutions Manager at Harmonic, Inc., offers advice on paying attention to system maintenance after a system is set up:

  1. Duplicated network addresses for management or streaming will result in loss of access, scrambling, or artifacts. To avoid conflicts, it is essential to keep track of the IP address assignment.
  2. Video transport over the open internet is subject to loss of quality due to inconsistency of performance over time and distance. A higher Quality of Experience (QoE) can be achieved by deploying a suitable Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) mechanism, such as SRT.
  3. A poorly managed network environment could pose serious security holes. Therefore, it is important to ensure routine maintenance, such as timely firmware updates, strong authentication methods, and properly configured firewall rules.

 

The shift to the ATSC 3.0 standard is creating many opportunities and new technologies. It is system integrators like Heartland Video Systems, working with broadcast industry suppliers, who often have early insights into where technology is going and how best to manage it.

Heartland Video Systems (HVS) has been supplying the supplying the US with quality communication equipment, professional installation services and ongoing technical support for over 20 years. HVS is a proud member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and an honored recipient of a 2010 Engineering Excellence Award. HVS is also a voting member of the ATSC.

HVS has partnered with a multitude of major communication equipment manufacturers to provide technologies for all links in the broadcast chain. HVS provides an array of manufacturer options, allowing customers to freely and conveniently select the products they require without concern of poor customer service. HVS caters to many multimedia production platforms, including television stations, broadcasting stations, colleges and universities and post production facilities. We look forward to the opportunity to assist you in the audio and video equipment supply field.Visit the Heartland Video Systems website

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