ATSC 3.0 WIll Eventually Come To Smartphones

February 7, 2017 - Written By Daniel Fuller

ATSC 3.0 is a fairly new standard for broadcast television that’s just being developed, and one of the key facets of it is the ability to beam HD television content directly to smartphones, though phones with this capability may not be hitting store shelves for quite some time. The FCC recently published an authorization to begin working with the standard in a commercial capacity. While it’s still being worked on and is subject to change for now, the authorization allows device manufacturers and broadcasters to begin working toward adopting the standard, though it won’t be finished for a while, with estimates pegging that timeframe as April of this year. A final authorization that will allow actual broadcasting and sales using the standard will come around the end of this year.

Compatibility with mobile devices is sorely lacking in past versions of the ATSC standard, and is one of the main reasons that broadcasters and device manufacturers are so eager to make the jump despite the expense and time commitment involved. While mobile compatibility is one of the bigger draws of the up and coming standard, the FCC’s filing authorizing its use says that it also promises to allow for a number of new features. Easier transmission of high-definition content in resolutions matching today’s TV equipment, such as 4K, is on the list, as well as improvements in audio, localization of content, emergency services, and wider availability of interactive content.

The standard will be hitting home devices first, where it will enable broadcasters to give their viewers content quite similar to what would normally be found on specialized, internet-connected platforms like game consoles and Android TV boxes. One of the big possibilities of ATSC 3.0 is a fully interactive, premium broadcast TV experience on the go, but in order for that to happen, mobile chipsets will need to be created with the standard baked in, which will require chipset makers like Qualcomm, Samsung, and MediaTek to jump on board. The process that will eventually lead to such a thing happening will be a long one, and the standard’s use cases and content may change significantly in the mean time.