I think Fred Baumgartner’s article about OTA Next Gen ATSC 3.0 and the entire push to put it on the air misses a very important point: Why bother?
While he argues that ancient modulation on the MW band and even FM on the VHF band cannot compete with ATSC 3.0 on the UHF band for OTA distribution for most of the global audience, he forgets that wireless transmission in general is passe except for time spent in motion, commuting, etc. Fiber to the home is rapidly replacing copper circuits of all types and is far more reliable than any OTA signal.
Do we need ATSC 3.0 to reach commuters? Nope. Sure, we could use its data formats with 5G OTA, but that’s really optional. Once you have an IP connection, any data format will work. ATSC 3.0 TV transmission, even synchronous repeaters, pales in comparison with cellular carriers, who will be providing thousands of cell sites in any one community.
If you look at rural areas, especially those with very hilly or mountainous terrain, OTA remains highly challenged. And that includes 5G cellular service. But many of these same areas are being rewired with fiber.
So, for that magnificent 8K TV screen, fiber will likely rule. For the kids in the back seats of the family van, do they really need 8K for the 24-inch screen built into the back rests of the seats in front of them?
In the world of Internet of things, will traditional TV license holders matter? Nope. These devices require two-way connectivity. Only the wireless carriers are in a position to expand and prosper. And at home, the bits can be uplinked more efficiently with wireless modems connected to the world via fiber than 5G.
The author is chief engineer of Monadnock Broadcasting Group and Saga Communications. Opinions are his own.
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