Broadcasters in 40 Largest U.S. TV Markets to Roll Out "Next-Gen TV" by 2021

Testing and deployment has already started in cities including Phoenix, Dallas and Baltimore.
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NAB president-CEO Gordon H. Smith

Following years of development, the U.S.' "Next-Gen TV" broadcasting standard will start to roll out in the 40 largest TV markets by the end of 2020, a coalition of broadcast TV station groups announced Monday at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

With deployment, the optional capabilities of this new standard — which include the ability to get an over-the-air TV signal on a cellphone without using a cellular service or data plans, as well as 4K, HDR and an emergency warning system — could be available on supported TV receivers, connected cars or mobile consumer devices including cellphones and tablets. As it is a voluntary system, each broadcaster would decide which capabilities of the new system it would offer to consumers.

Regarding device support, Brian Markwalter, senior vp research and standards, Consumer Technology Association, said, "We expect CES 2020 will feature a wide variety of reception devices — integrated 4K Ultra HDTVs, gateway receivers and portable devices."

Calling the development "a revolution in television," National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Gordon H. Smith noted that "hundreds of brilliant engineers and dozens of companies are making significant investments to bring the product into living rooms, laptops and smartphones." He further addressed the rollout — but also warned that certain tech companies need to step up — on Monday during his NAB Show address.

Testing and rollout of the new standard, known as ATSC 3.0, has already started in Phoenix; Dallas; Baltimore; Raleigh, North Carolina; Santa Barbara, California; and East Lansing, Michigan. Several markets could have next-gen TV services before the end of the year, according to Monday's announcement.

The long list of coalition participants includes Fox Television Stations, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, Univision, SpectrumCo, members of the Pearl TV organization, Hearst Television and Capitol Broadcasting.

Speaking during the press conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said, "ATSC 3.0 is part of a broader shift we are seeing towards next-generation connectivity, one that is going to usher in a new wave of innovation and opportunity for Americans. You see it on the wireless side with the build-out of 5G networks."

He added, "The possibilities of this one-to-many broadband pipe are difficult to predict today. But what is clear is this: Broadcasters are already exploring innovative new applications that are well outside their traditional comfort zone of delivering over-the-air television."