ATSC 3.0 'Plug Fest' successfully completed

Monday, March 28th, 2016
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Successful “Plug Fest” For Broadcast’s Next Gen Transmission Standard Completed in Baltimore

  • Intricate Testing Previews ATSC 3.0 Standard

HUNT VALLEY, MD — With the next-generation broadcast television standard (Next Gen) nearing completion, ONE Media, LLC and Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) hosted “Plug Fest 2016,” an event for “Validation and Verification” compatibility testing of the ATSC 3.0 digital TV standard. The testing took place in Hunt Valley, MD with transmissions originating from Sinclair’s Channel 43 in Baltimore.

Plug Fest 2016 was a gathering of engineers and industry professionals from around the world with the goal of solidifying a common understanding of the major ATSC 3.0 connectivity and interoperability specifications. The purpose of the tests was to verify that modulators and demodulators can operate satisfactorily when connected together using the new standard. The participants of Plug Fest focused on the functional validation tests, rather than on competing equipment. Broadcasters and technology companies have been working quickly to begin commercialization of the new flexible and scalable transmission system that is designed to replace today’s 20 year-old broadcast transmission technology. The new ATSC 3.0 standard uses IP-based, over-the-air signals to deliver Ultra High-Definition, mobile TV, HDTV, standard-definition TV and new IP business opportunities. Currently in development and expected to be ratified as a full standard this year, the Next Gen platform opens new avenues for broadcasters to offer wireless IP-based content, advanced advertising, cached content for later playback, and advanced emergency alerting with far more comprehensive information than today’s text alerts.

The essential piece of the ATSC 3.0 Standard’s base Physical Layer, the so-called “Bootstrap” or System Discovery and Signaling element, is expected to be approved as a full standard by the end of this month. The testing performed at Plug Fest was essential to proving the system capabilities.

The testing was comprised of almost 170 defined parameter sets and scores of pages of testing program documents to work through. Participants built their equipment to a set of common requirements, including input and output interfaces and control facilities. Sinclair/ONE Media supplied all the support equipment. Participants included the world’s leading manufacturers from the United States, Europe, Japan, China and Korea.

Kevin Gage, ONE Media’s EVP Strategic Development and Chief Technology Officer, noted, “The participation of leading companies from around the globe highlights the importance of ATSC 3.0 for the continued evolution of broadcast technology. ATSC 3.0’s all-IP distribution architecture provides broadcasters with the flexibility to enhance current services and deliver on new business opportunities. This type of validation testing was essential to developing that infrastructure.”