There has never been a global standard for television but the move to internet protocols may offer opportunities for convergence. The ATSC, which has successfully promoted its 3.0 standard for NextGen TV, has published a white paper advocating a broadcast core network that is agnostic to the digital terrestrial television system. Notably, it recognises DVB-I as a candidate common approach to service discovery. The ATSC believes that global digital terrestrial television convergence is a valuable and attainable goal and says it will seek and respond to opportunities for convergence.

“The paper is a very public statement from the ATSC that basically expresses a strong desire to work closely with other digital terrestrial television standards development organizations in an effort to look at where technology can be converged and work on developing a unified voice on the world stage for broadcasting,” said Madeleine Noland, president of ATSC.

The effort to forge a next-generation broadcast standard that encompasses all the major standards development organizations is not new. It goes back over a decade to the initial Future of Broadcast Television Summit in November 2011 in Shanghai. The aim of promoting a single next-generation television system has not been realised to date.

The broadcast ecosystem now faces considerable challenges, including a reduction in the spectrum allocated to broadcasting, with the emergence of global data networks capable of carrying video services, and diverse data network infrastructures to deliver them.

The worldwide adoption of internet protocol services and the resulting proliferation of video streaming has made almost any data service into a video service.

There is also a case for enabling devices to select the most appropriate network dynamically, in the same way that mobile devices can seamlessly switch between cellular and local wireless networks.

The forthcoming World Radio Conference WRC23 is certain to be a forum for continued discussions around reallocating broadcast spectrum to other services.

To avoid losing additional spectrum, the ATSC suggests that broadcasters must work together to increase and demonstrate the economic value and global importance of broadcasting.

The latest digital terrestrial television transmission technologies, such as ATSC 3.0 and DVB-T2, are the most efficient ways of delivering one-to-many data services, for television and other uses.

The internet protocol foundation of ATSC 3.0, DVB-NIP, DVB-I, Advanced ISDB-T, and DTMB-A provides an opportunity to work toward a unified global broadcast approach that shares common ground among regional systems.

The report acknowledges that a fully, globally converged next-generation broadcast system may not be feasible, as installed infrastructure and consumer receivers cannot easily be replaced wholesale.

However, there exists the chance to converge and cooperate where various standards intersect or overlap. While certain areas of digital terrestrial television standards may necessarily differ, they could present a common face to other data delivery systems in a heterogeneous ecosystem.

The ATSC proposes that its concept of a Broadcast Core Network and the DVB service discovery specification DVB-I may be good candidates for such abstraction.

The ATSC believes that the opportunity exists for harmonization of elements of systems already deployed, and those currently under development, and that harmonization will open new opportunities for broadcasting worldwide.

The white paper ATSC 3.0 and Global Convergence is published by the ATSC.