Broadcasting is on the cusp of a revolution. 5G will change how events and programs are captured, produced, and transmitted to people around the world. Broadcasts will become more interactive, more innovative, and more efficient. 5G will not only create a massive captive audience for advertisers, but will allow for more advanced creatives that attract attention and make it possible to deploy algorithms that display the most appropriate creatives in real time.
The emergence of 5G broadcasting was well captured in the marquee 3-day IMC 2020, a plenary session themed around Inclusive Innovation – Smart, Secure, Sustainable event, was held virtually in December 2020. It included participation from various experts in 5G broadcasting, 5G enterprise solutions, OTT, and sustainable futurists, to discuss and deliberate upon industry issues, challenges, future trends, and opportunities.
The session on 5G Broadcasting – From Fallow to Highthroughput: Opportunities for India to Leverage ATSC 3.0 Technology shed light on broadcast internet services, the new broadcast transmission standard – ATSC 3.0, and how it can support the delivery of 5G or high-speed internet services in India and around the world. The participants in this session were Brendan Carr, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission; Abhishek Tiwari, Communications Systems Lead, Facebook; Shashi S Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharti; Parag Naik, CEO, Saankhya Labs; Manish Vyas President (Communications Business), Tech Mahindra; and Sesh Simha – Vice President Advanced Technology – ONE Media, Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Excerpts from the event
The spokesperson is Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
“It is safe to say that terrestrial broadcasting in India is at pivotal point in time. With the ongoing digital transition and historically underutilized broadcast spectrum, India has an opportunity to take a giant leap forward and embrace the cutting edge of broadcast technology, namely ATSC 3.0. This very technical sounding term is the latest—and, indeed, greatest— internationally recognized broadcast transmission standard. And because it is an IP-based standard that is aligned with 3GPP specifications, it is ready made for the evolving wireless marketplace. This new technology presents a terrific opportunity for broadcasters to enhance their traditional over-the-air services, while simultaneously offering next generation wireless services, such as 5G broadcasting.
With India’s mobile first society and its growing demand for mobile video, India’s traditional mobile networks must add capacity. Indeed, India is expected to grow to more than 850 million wireless users, which will put an incredible strain on existing capacity as video content is streamed to more and more devices. This is where India’s powerful but underutilized broadcast spectrum—enhanced by ATSC 3.0—can be put to work to meet the exploding demand for high-speed Internet services.
While 5G deployment is essential, broadcast spectrum can play a key role in relieving congestion created by the surge in demand for mobile video. It is, therefore, critical that regulators identify the appropriate regulatory environment to enable this efficient, high-capacity spectrum to come to market quickly. So, with your indulgence, I would like to share with you my perspective on how the broadcast airwaves are ideally suited to help address India’s growing need for wireless capacity and how the FCC has help support the voluntary transition to ATSC 3.0 in the US.
ATSC 3.0 represents the most significant upgrade in the broadcast airwaves since the 1980s. This dynamic new standard will enable a wide-range of NEXTGEN TV applications—everything from bringing UHD video to the airwaves to ushering in a more interactive, accessible, and personalized experience for the viewing public.
But those exciting TV applications only tell part of the story. For the last couple years, I have been drawing attention to an entirely different set of ATSC 3.0 applications. I suggested that we should think about this technology as a new and competitive broadband pipe. After all, the technology can allow broadcasters to transmit a 25+ Mbps data stream. I have come to refer to these applications as broadcast internet services, which is a term that I think captures even more of the innovative applications that are on the horizon.
These new services, no matter what you call them, are part of a broader trend we’re seeing in communications. From innovative 5G offerings to high-capacity fixed services, providers from previously distinct sectors are competing like never before to offer high-speed Internet services through a mix of different technologies. ATSC 3.0 is the technology that will allow broadcast spectrum to play an even greater role in this converged market for connectivity.
As our networks continue to mature, they would not always rely on the same spectrum bands or even technologies for inbound and outbound data paths. Instead, hybrid networks will look for the most efficient and cost-effective ways to deliver content to users. And this is where broadcast spectrum can leverage its inherent strengths to compete in this market. Those strengths include wide-area coverage over low-band spectrum and an efficient one-to-many architecture. Indeed, this spectrum is particularly well suited to bringing advanced wireless services to typically underserved rural and remote communities.
For 5G, it could help augment coverage or add capacity by shifting data off cellular networks in an efficient and cost-effective manner. While the demand for mobile video is growing throughout the world, this trend is particularly acute in India. So, it is no surprise that stakeholders in India are already exploring ways to utilize ATSC 3.0 to enhance capacity and reduce network congestion. In fact, Indian companies, often in collaboration with US partners, are playing a leading role in developing the mobile technology that will seamlessly merge broadcast spectrum into the next-gen wireless ecosystem.
And the vision for ATSC 3.0 does not stop there. Take autonomous vehicles. Broadcast spectrum could be used to send out targeted map and traffic data or provide large, fleet-wide software updates—quickly and efficiently. For IoT and telemedicine applications, broadcast TV’s low-band spectrum could provide an efficient means of communicating with devices over wide areas.
And now, as seemingly every part of our lives migrates online as a result of COVID-19, this spectrum could also be used to deliver lessons to children attending school virtually; provide job training materials for those whose livelihoods may have vanished; or, when combined with other spectrum, provide broadband connectivity to those who cannot connect today.
In the US, we have been doing our part to facilitate deployment of ATSC 3.0. Overall, the Commission’s approach in the US has worked. Broadcasters are making great progress in their NEXTGEN TV offerings, and many are already exploring ways to offer advanced datacasting services. We believe that it is critical to identify and remove the overhang of unnecessary government regulations that would otherwise hold back the introduction and growth of new competitive offerings. The time for us to start thinking about those possibilities is now.
While the ATSC 3.0 standard is international, the challenges faced by each country will vary. As regulators, we must, therefore, remain flexible and willing to learn. And, importantly, we must continue to support private sector collaborations between stakeholders in the US and India. These innovations are helping to drive the transition and are critical to unlocking ATSC 3.0’s full potential.
The spokesperson is President, ATSC
“The appetite of consumers for video and entertainment is relentlessly increasing. The Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 are emerging verticals with massive data needs. And the proliferation of devices both fixed and mobile is unmistakable. As result spectrum grows more and more valuable, putting pressure on regulators and spectrum users to employ new efficiencies. This can be achieved in two key ways. One, we can develop and utilize technology that maximizes spectrum capacity and two, enable convergence across heterogeneous networks so that the right network is used for the right job at the right time.
ATSC 3.0 effectively addresses both key needs. It is the most efficient one-to-many wireless technologies in the world today, maximizing capacity of existing spectrum. And it is convergence ready able to operate side by side with other wireline and wireless networks allow, for example, broadcast traffic offload to free up capacity in unicast networks.
ATSC is now in its fourth year of commercial deployment in South Korea. It is reaching 70 percent of Korean households and it is being rolled out in the US now with the expectation that 75 percent of US households will be served by this time next year. ATSC is very happy to be closely collaborating with India. The ATSC India implementation team is dedicated to the Make in India initiative, welcoming new innovations, products, and solutions for ATSC 3.0.
ATSC is also pleased to have MoU with TSDSI and with IIT Kanpur, and an ongoing dialog with Prasar Bharti. In fact, we are very excited to announce a new agreement with TSTDSI that paves the way for ATSC 3.0 standards to be transposed to TSDSI standards. This will further ensure that it is India’s engineers and stakeholders that mold and develop ATSC 3.0 to suit India’s unique landscape.”
The spokesperson is President, ATSC
The spokesperson is Communications Systems Lead, Facebook“Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family to discover what is going on in the world. And to share and express what matters to them. There are 3.2 billion people around the world who use one of our core products, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, or Messenger on a monthly basis. Roughly 12 percent of these monthly in are in India, making it our largest market 90 percent for users in India. Just about 360 million access our services or a mobile network.
Now let us turn our attention toward video. Video Traffic makes up more than 60 percent of all internet traffic globally, and is expected to grow to more than 80 percent by 2022. Consistent with this trend, our services like Facebook Live and Facebook Watch have seen tremendous growth in recent times. Worldwide, 800 million users engage with live streams on Facebook and Instagram daily. 1.25 billion people visit Facebook watch every month.
With India’s mobile internet subscriber user base expected to reach 850 million, It seems unfathomable how such high demand for video content can be fulfilled with the amount of available cellular spectrum. As mentioned by the Commissioner Brendan Carr, the fallow UHF broadcast spectrum presents an opportunity to relieve this impending congestion. We, at Facebook, are keen on working with the industry and policymakers on solutions that can help offer the best quality of experience for our users without congesting the networks of our ISP and mobile network operator partners.
LTE broadcast and 5G broadcasts are promising technologies to deliver popular live on video content to millions of subscribers. We are simultaneously viewing the content as well as prefetching video content that goes on which is an important application use-case for Facebook. It is relevant to 5G broadcast and is mass application upgrades to our products. The ability to send app upgrade simultaneously to millions of our users helps us introduce new features, address critical privacy, and security vulnerabilities in a fast and scalable fashion, without burning down mobile network infrastructure for partners.
We are encouraged by the vision shared by the panelists on ATSC 3.0, broadcast internet, and cellular broadcast architecture. One of the crucial challenges in achieving the vision of 5G broadcast is that the entire ecosystem comprising of several players like content providers, policymakers, broadcasters, network operators, radio access network vendors, chipset vendors, handset vendors, and system integrators, we will have to work together in unison. We hope that through these panels and other industry events, we can bring the right mix of ecosystem thought leaders to achieve the vision of 5G broadcast.”
Shahsi S Vempati
The spokesperson is CEO, Prasar Bharti
“India, as a market, has been seeing increasing explosive growth of mobile data consumption and a large part of this mobile data consumption is video. In fact, we have had some studies that have shown that the video consumption in rural India has surpassed on mobile devices, as surpassed urban India. And a large part of that is thanks to the events, like IPL, which see astronomical levels of viewership.
And today, all of that viewership is happening on unicast. It is happening on the regular cellular networks. We will soon hit that inflection point where the regular cellular networks will not be able to handle this kind of capacity. This is where it becomes interesting to look at emerging technologies like ATSC 3.0 and 5G broadcasting.
If we could leverage the broadcast spectrum and the broadcast infrastructure to directly reach mobile phones and smartphones and deliver the content that the consumers are looking for, we may have a game changer here. However, this is a challenge not only for the cellular operators, but more so for traditional broadcasters.
Today, we are increasingly seeing that a lot of the consumption of linear television has more than two smart devices. It is increasingly happening on smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs, and alike. Hence, it becomes all the more challenging for traditional broadcasters to stay connected with the audience to continue to engage with this audience, especially the young audience who are increasingly on mobile phones.
This is as much a need for the broadcasters as it is a need for the cellular operators. So At this intersection is this convergence between broadcast and the broadband internet technologies. We are keen to see how ATSC 3.0 and emerging standards, from 3GPP on mobile broadcasting can solve this problem and create opportunity for both India and the United States.
With every crisis comes an opportunity. And this crisis with COVID-19 was no different. One of the biggest challenges that India faced was to keep the schools going on, despite challenges with broadband access. Broadcasting turned out to be a game changer and tele-education and education to radio broadcasts kept the knowledge, learning, and sharing, going. These are the kinds of use-cases that we will look forward to when we see this convergence between broadcast and mobile phones happening.
India and the United States are two of the world’s largest democracies. They are also the largest markets in the free world for mobile phones and apps based on mobile station. And ultimately, it is going to be about apps. The single-most opportunity that I see is to create an ubiquitous experience or app experience by which one discovers and consumes these direct-to-mobile broadcast services. I am reminded of the early days, when the Wi-Fi Alliance came about to create that ubiquitous experience. It did not matter whether you were on a laptop, or a mobile phone, or any other device, you had a standard symbol for Wi-Fi, and a very consistent way in which you could discover and consume services over the W-Fi network capability.
The moment calls for a similar sort of global alliance, and perhaps India and the United States could take the leadership here to create this direct-to-mobile global alliance, which creates this ubiquitous experience and propels the convergence between mobile phones and broadcasting over the emerging 5G standards, leveraging technologies like ATSC 3.0.”
The spokesperson is President-Communications Business, Tech Mahindra
“5G inherently has a concept of slice. These slices, as the broader industry continues to get warmed up to the idea of 5G, presents some tremendous opportunity, not just in the broad telecom mobile realm, but clearly in the broadcast realm as well. For someone who lives in suburban Texas as I do, the timezone is not conducive. It is the capabilities that we now have that are available to us, even before 5G hits. That allows me to have a seamless experience of not just IPL, but even when India recently beat Australia is something that whole rich experience across the world is just going to explode. Thanks to slice and the format of 5G, and with the collaboration with vendors like ATSC, there are some exciting use-cases that I am truly looking forward to.
Imagine a scenario post this pandemic, that people are back in offices and are busy. Despite being busy in the current scenario, we still can afford a little bit of independence in terms of how we work. As people are back to the old normal assuming that the new normal is also very similar in some shape, you will not have some of the experiences that happen in real time. The post action updates on any live event, whether it is sports or otherwise, is not always friendly. Even if a 4-hour game is converted into a 30-minute highlight package, it is still 30 minutes. And viewers are not interested in watching everything in 30 minutes, they are only interested in watching that 1-minute magical moment when something happens.
Now with AI and that networks are going to be inherently more software-defined and software-centric, broadcasters will have a much better the ability to process data. We are talking of a scenario in which a consumer will get an alert on their phone and be only that one person who wants to experience a certain game highlight and be able to experience it right then. This can generate revenue for the service provider, because the viewer would be willing to pay a little premium. Hence, there is a significant ability for hyper personalization in this context.
As you go beyond the conventional broadcast into what the up and coming is, the Gen Y is not going to spend time on linear content. There will be an explosive growth in segments like gaming and eSports. That is another brilliant opportunity, as we bring the capabilities across all these wide range of technologies together to be able to derive and drive a much greater experience.
About 80 percent of all data on a 5G network is going to be video. Imagine industry verticals which have been historically dependent on either a live or an audio, or a written communication is increasingly going to depend on video channels. So overall, as things stand and as 5G adoption increases, the integration of different standards from a broadcast standpoint will improve.
5G in broadcast is not just a technology, it is a platform for innovation. It is a platform that will spawn a whole host of ideas that may not even exist today. But because the technology will exist, the innovators will come in and join the party at some point in time to start opening up various opportunities.
In terms of the India-US collaboration, it goes into two broad spectrums. One is that these two are the largest markets. One of them which is India, with about 1.2 billion phones, networks running at about 95-97 percent capacity. On top of it, a concurrent event like IPL brings about 40-50 million people watching the content at the same time, which puts an enormous load onto that network, and hence, in some shape or form impacts the experience as well.
There is no broadcast mode on internet yet, with the kind of work that can happen with 5G in broadcast with ATSC 3.0, we are talking about opening up a completely new chapter, not just a page in being able to deliver an experience and the capability to the consumers. Within broadcast enterprise, as the technology is understood better and different pieces of technology come together from AI to data, adoption of the computing capabilities with cloud and Edge will augment. All in all, we are talking about a collaboration that can only bring improvement in service delivery to the consumers and enterprises at one level.
On the other hand, process of innovation, India is sitting with one of the best intellectual capitals from a technology and innovation capability standpoint. With the geopolitical scenario as it stands in today, the mutual trust and security clearly gains the most paramount importance in people’s mind. India has enjoyed that level of trust from the global markets for decades now. All of this is essentially a foundation for a greater collaboration to do more in the area of technology, development, whether it is on the device, application side, use-cases, or on the underlying infrastructure. So, growth, and there is opportunities written all over this page. And hence, collaboration, I think is not even a choice. It is absolutely mandatory for all of us.”
The spokesperson is VP Advanced Technology, ONE Media at Sinclair Broadcast Group
“In the current scenario, the two words, sports and news mean that a one-to-many broadcast will provide the best user experience. During the COVID times, our local news stations, news leaders, and weather reporters have built a great relationship with the viewers. We know that in India as well, there are large number of regional channels that are new spaced, so the experience that we bring to deploying mobile is going to be useful to broadcasters all around the world.
As far as the technology is concerned, we have played a very important and foundational role in the development of the physical layer of ATSC 3.0. There is really nothing in 3GPP or anywhere else that compares to its performance. And what this translates for rest of the broadcasters like us as we deploy both the high tower and cellularized broadcast is that it is going to make a significant difference in either improvement in coverage or significant reduction in capital expenditures for equipment, and we could be looking at billions of dollars’ worth of nationwide rollouts.
On that note, we have been tirelessly deploying ATSC 3.0 in the United States. It is a mature technology, standards are complete, 2020 and 2021 are the years of deployment of terrestrial broadcasters. In early 2021, we will be deploying in the Greater Washington area in 10 to 12 sites. Cellularized broadcast system is going to be our lab and testbed to show ourselves, the communities, and the government that broadcasters are no longer have old ideas and that we have finally arrived at the 5G table.
On the technology front, we have been tirelessly working on the device side. We have a great partnership with Saankhya Labs, made major investments in India, and we now have a reference smartphone with ATSC 3.0 embedded in it. And both in India and the United States, we will conduct field trials. In the US we are likely to be working with mobile network operators for the showcase. We are also involved in building call the application framework, which will curb the need of tuning channels as it will developed into an app-based system. Hence, there will be a complete integration of broadcast and an over-the-air OTT.”
The spokesperson is VP Advanced Technology, ONE Media at Sinclair Broadcast Group
The spokesperson is CEO, Saankhya Labs
“Traditionally, broadcasting networks are different from unicast, in the sense that they are a constant quality network, which means they are a provision for the worst-case scenario for every user to receive the same quality at a cellular network that actually gives you a variable quality and not experience. Since there are several technologies which are being incorporated into their phones, one could pre-position content into a phone via the broadcast channel instantly. The other important aspect of broadcasting traditionally has been that there is one single tower per city and that limits indoor coverage, as well as it also gives you a limited pipe.
As part of 5G broadcast, we are looking at rolling out a cellularized transmit architecture that gives a uniform signal coverage and a coverage that uniform SNR that ensures you receive no content on a negative gain. Phones, like traditional broadcast, have been optimized for rooftop reception with a 1013Db. Now, from a business perspective, for too long, there have been broadcast networks and cellular networks which have operated in a silo and they have been optimized for a particular use-case. So, taking that step further up in 5G, you have got this concept of a slice where a certain piece
of content or a kind of service with a certain set of constraints as its own virtual network and broadcast a unique set of content.
Thus, in the 5G umbrella, it is quite necessary to have a convergence of these two disparate, but yet very important complementary technologies. And lastly, from a mobile operator’s perspective, one of the key problems they face is how they can increase capacity in dense urban areas.”