An American broadcaster has transmitted an ultra-high-definition signal over the air in a test of next-generation television standards. It is the first test transmission using the proposed ATSC 3.0 standard, in which scalable video and audio can be delivered over the air to the home and mobile devices simultaneously. It is claimed to be the first successful broadcast of Scalable High Efficiency Video Compression anywhere in the world.

Sinclair Broadcast Group collaborated with Technicolor to deploy its ATSC 3.0 4K UltraHD testbed on its experimental transmission system in Baltimore, Maryland.

It shows that broadcasters can deliver 4K ultra-high-definition signals over the air to viewers at home, as well as services available on the move, at up to 70 miles per hour.

“Technicolor has created an integrated platform, not just a single component such as audio or video, which enables us to do real-world deployments and testing of this exciting next generation ATSC 3.0 technology,” said Vince Pizzica, who is responsible for corporate development and technology at Technicolor.

Sinclair Broadcast Group owns and operates television stations across the United States, reaching 38% of television households. The Baltimore station WNUV-TV has previously been used to test the European DVB-T2 transmission standard.

“Sinclair continues to work to bring future value to all broadcast stakeholders, a future where HDTV and new services can be reliably delivered to tablets and portable devices, and 4K UltraHD to our home audience,” said Mark Aitken, who heads advanced technology for Sinclair. “These new revenue opportunities bring local broadcasters to the forefront of serving our local markets. Our viewers are increasingly mobile in all that they are engaged and the technologies we are demonstrating bring new alternatives in the delivery of media content to consumers.”

The Advanced Television Systems Committee in America is proposing ATSC 3.0 as a next generation broadcasting standard. Unlike ATSC 2.0, which is a development of the first generation of digital television used in the United States, ATSC 3.0 will not be backward compatible. It will use a different form of modulation, as used in Europe and elsewhere, with the latest high efficiency video compression scheme, known as HEVC or H.265.

It is the first time that scalable HEVC compression has been broadcast. This uses a layered approach to add quality and resolution to video signals. It means, for example, that a mobile phone would decode only the base layer, while a high-definition television would use both the base layer and an enhancement layer to provide a higher quality picture.

The Maryland test is also said to be the first integration of MPEG-MMT transport technology. MMT, or MPEG Media Transport, is a digital container standard designed to transfer media over internet protocol networks. It is specifically designed to support ultra-high-definition and multi-device presentation.