What Is ATSC 3.0 Over-the-Air TV? We Take a Look at the New OTA TV Standard


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Teenager girl with remote control laying down and watching tv eating popcorn.

Teenager girl with remote control laying down and watching tv eating popcorn.Recently there has been a lot of news about ATSC 3.0, the new over-the-air TV standard (AKA OTA TV). Many of our readers have been asking what is ATSC 3.0 OTA TV, so we hope this post answers most of your questions.

What is ATSC?

ATSC stands for the Advanced Television Systems Committee. This is the group that works in partnership with TV stations owners, the National Association of Broadcasters, and manufacturers to come up with broadcast TV standards. These standards mean the TV you buy will work with all over-the-air TV stations.

The committee has been around for some time and the current over-the-air TV standard is called ATSC 1.0, but no one really uses that name outside of the industry. Typically, we just call it over-the-air TV. Now, though, the committee is working on ATSC 3.0 as a new over-the-air TV standard.

What happened to ATSC 2.0?

You may be wondering if we are on ATSC 1.0 today and are moving to ATSC 3.0, what happened to ATSC 2.0? In short, the standard was made, and it included many great new features such as interactive content, video on demand, and advanced video compression. Yet after it was created 4K and later 4K HDR became popular. It was decided that the industry would rather not spend money today to bring ATSC 2.0 into reality just to roll out ATSC 3.0 with 4K HDR support a few years later.

So, the decision was made to skip ATSC 2.0 and dive right into ATSC 3.0 with 4K HDR support among other benefits.

What is ATSC 3.0?

ATSC 3.0 is a new standard that will bring a long list of new features to over-the-air TV. Two main features that will really excite cord cutters are 4K HDR picture with better sound and better over-the-air TV coverage.

There are other great features such as detailed custom weather alerts and internet active news stories.

Will you need a new antenna?

No, you will not need a new antenna. An antenna is a dumb device that picks up all signals out there: FM, AM, TV, etc. The chips in your TV decode the signals and display the images. Just like how a 40-year-old antenna in your attic still works with the new digital TV, today’s antennas will work with 3.0 TV.

Will you need a new TV?

The good news is NO, but you may need a new box. The FCC requires TV stations that move to 3.0 OTA to offer the current OTA standard for five years after the move. That means if a station moves to 3.0 OTA TV next year, the day they turn on 3.0 OTA the clock starts for five years to still offer the current standard.

LG is already selling TVs in South Korea with 3.0 TV tuners. South Korea has had 3.0 for some time, and LG is adding the new 3.0 TV tuners to TVs they sell in the United States next year.

If you don’t want to buy a new TV, you won’t have to enjoy 3.0 OTA TV. Several companies say they will have dongles or set-top boxes for sale soon that will let you connect your antenna to the box and the box to your HDMI port on your TV.

With that said we are looking at six to seven years before anyone is forced to upgrade their TVs or devices.

We hope this post has helped answer some of the questions you have. Keep an eye on the site as we will have full coverage of the move to ATSC 3.0.

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