ATSC 3.0 booted back into mobile with Sinclair chipsets

Chipsets don’t generally take center stage at CES, let alone those dedicated for broadcast TV. That’s exactly why the launch of some new silicon supporting ATSC 3.0 from Sinclair Broadcast subsidiary One Media 3.0 at the show this week caught us off guard – making the grand unveiling at an event where the North American DTT standard clearly doesn’t belong, instead of holding out for NAB.

But that presumption quickly diminishes once you scan further down the press release to discover the launch claims the world’s first mobile-ready ATSC 3.0 chip, the SL4000. Our 2018 coverage of ATSC 3.0 implored industry players to get a move on, on the premise that by the time it launches, the majority of consumers will be accustomed to internet viewing anyway and the standard will be rendered useless. The news is exactly the kick up the backside the ATSC 3.0 community needed.

Speaking to active players in the ATSC 3.0 space over the past year, Faultline Online Reporter has been perplexed to hear about back-tracking on plans to embrace mobile viewing for several years after initial ATSC 3.0 consumer TV set deployments are due to commence – despite several broadcast players previously pinning hopes on pervading the mobile space.

Working with Indian software-defined radio (SDR) developer Saankhya Labs, silicon R&D outfit VeriSilicon and Samsung Foundry, One Media 3.0 claims to have launched the world’s most advanced multi-standard demodulator SoC supporting ATSC 3.0, in two flavors. The second, after the SL4000, is the Demod-only SL3000, designed for linear TV applications such as reception in HDTV set tops and home gateways, whereas the SL4000 is a Demod-plus Tuner variant.

One Media 3.0, Sinclair’s dedicated “next-gen” platform development arm, says it aims to accelerate the adoption of ATSC 3.0 across markets with direct-to-mobile TV capabilities and broadcast/broadband convergence systems. “These have the very real potential to disrupt the mobile broadband and broadcast industries,” states One Media 3.0, expecting the combined IP-broadcast backbone which comprises the standard to win over a growing market of cord nevers.

As the first to market, the mobile-targeted SL4000 chipset is a critically important step towards adoption of the standard in a future 5G world, and Sinclair Broadcast recently committed to a nationwide roll-out of ATSC 3.0 and to fund millions of chipset giveaways for wireless operators.

To achieve this, you need supporting receiver modules to receive the hybrid broadcast-IP signals within an ATSC 3.0 signal, on an ATSC 3.0 capable phone (which to our knowledge still don’t exist, yet). Getting a handset maker on board is therefore the ultimate frontier in our eyes and when we have pressured prominent broadcast figures in the past, the response has simply been that the focus of ATSC 3.0 is on the big screen via set tops, and nothing else for the next few years at least. These opinions have probably changed this week.

Saankhya Labs has supplied its patented SDR platform to the universal demodulator and supports 12 standards including ATSC 3.0, DVB-T2, ISDB-T, plus satellite and cable standards for TV, set tops, home gateways, mobile and automotive applications. VeriSilicon supplied its ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) turnkey design and manufacturing services, while Samsung Foundry contributed its fully depleted silicon on insulator process technology, called 28FDS, for quality process production.

Other ATSC 3.0 initiatives in the US include the Phoenix Model Market, a collaborative effort between 8 large US broadcasters and the technology vendor community, which came about due to concern about live news broadcasts migrating cross platform. It has signed test agreements with Sony, Samsung and LG to supply electronics equipment.

LG was first on board the Phoenix Model Market, after marketing dual reception ATSC 3.0 and 1.0 TV products in South Korea (where the first terrestrial ATSC 3.0 broadcast network launched in October 2017), supplying its integrated ATSC 3.0 TV receivers for evaluation and monitoring. Sony will supply TVs, demodulators and application developments tools, as well as collaborate with Pearl TV – the broadcast partnership group and founding member of the project – in developing the EPG and service models. Samsung has also sold ATSC 3.0 TVs in South Korea, now in the US it plans to bring technologies for HDR and immersive audio evaluation.

Perhaps the main attraction of ATSC 3.0 to broadcasters is the targeted advertising capabilities at their fingertips thanks to the combination of a live broadcast with an IP back channel. This allows broadcasters to collect data to better understand viewer behavior, thereby enhancing their targeted advertising business cases. ATSC 3.0 can achieve this through the convergence of content identification and advertising identification, according to Chief Growth Officer of Ad-ID Harold Geller, the company which supplies codes for Trackable Asset Cross-Platform Identification (TAXI), a 2013 standard for identifying ad assets across all media platforms.


One Media 3.0 President Mark Aitken said, “These mobile 3.0 chips validate the ‘sea change’ in over-the-air distribution of, not only television, but all digital data.  Broadcasters are doing their part by deploying the NextGen transmission facilities, and now there will be devices enabled to receive that data – personalized and in mobile form.  This chip is the key to that disruptive future in a 5G world.”

April’s NAB show should be a huge occasion for ATSC 3.0 and, luckily, Faultline Online Reporter will be on the floor to ensure we get a first-hand look at developments in the standard and the bold claims being made by its drivers.