Korean broadcasters claim to have conducted the first end-to-end broadcast in Ultra HD using the next-generation ATSC 3.0 standard, which uses internet protocols. Regular services are scheduled to begin broadcasting in early 2017. Public demonstrations of Ultra HD over-the-air broadcasts using ATSC 3.0 were showcased at CES in Las Vegas at the beginning of the year.

The test transmission in South Korea was a collaboration including LG, Korean broadcasters SBS and MBC, and the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of Korea.

The 4K Ultra HDTV signal was encoded using the High Efficiency Video Coding standard HEVC or H.265 and was delivered using standards related to those used for online streaming.

It involved a live camera feed, compressed using an HEVC coder from Media Excel, relayed from the SBS network studio in Mokdong to its Gwanak Mountain transmitter, from where the signals were received and decoded by a 4K Ultra HD ATSC 3.0 receiver developed by LG Electronics.

Signals were delivered with next-generation IP technologies based on the DASH streaming format and the IP delivery protocol known as ROUTE, which stands for Real-Time Object Delivery Over Unidirectional Transport.

Dr Young-Soo Park, the technical director of SBS, said: “The success of this trial highlights the potential for Korea’s launch of terrestrial UHD TV commercial services using ATSC 3.0 in February 2017.” He added that the role played by Korean companies in the ATSC 3.0 standard provided an opportunity for them in the United States.

SBS and MBC plan to work with LG and ETRI to take full advantage of new capabilities of ATSC 3.0, such as the combination of broadcast and broadband signals. “We will continue to develop technologies to help commercialize ATSC 3.0 as the next great advance in terrestrial broadcasting,” said Dr K.Y. Kwak, the executive vice president of the Advanced Standard Research & Development Lab at LG.

Being developed as a global standard by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the ATSC 3.0 standards suite is the first broadcast system based on internet protocols, combining broadcasting and broadband delivery. The majority of the components of the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards have now reached Candidate Standard status, enabling consumer equipment manufacturers to begin building and testing prototype products.

At CES in January both LG and Samsung demonstrated Ultra HD high dynamic range displays showing over-the-air signals from different broadcasters in Las Vegas. Further demonstrations of ATSC 3.0 capabilities can be expected at the NAB Show in April.