[opendtv] Re: OTA

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2012 08:04:02 -0500

At 3:55 PM -0500 3/13/12, Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
Craig Birkmaier wrote:

[ATSC to WiFi box]

 2. Codec efficiency - MPEG-2 is simply not efficient enough for mobile
 applications, especially over wireless broadband networks;

The part of the path in which you need the highest possible coding efficiency is the broadband pipe. In this instance, the "broadband pipe" is the ATSC channel, so there's NO PROBLEM with coding efficiency. You have plenty of bandwidth within the WiFi network, assuming a reasonably up to date WiFi.

Excuse me Bert. Why did the ATSC add h.264 support for the M/H standard?

The ATSC channel, and ANY other distribution pipe carry bits. If you want higher image quality or more sub channels with good quality you need more efficient codecs.

Now, the box itself MAY recode the stream to H.264, if there are whatever licensing reasons to do this. But even if the indoor stream retains MPEG-2 compression, you can still fit maybe 6 ATSC multiplexes, at least, in a typical 802.11n WiFi.

It is not licensing reasons that require support for h.264, although this was a factor in moving from MPEG-2 to h.264. You need h.264 because that is the codec that is now being used by most of the popular mobile devices. So your Antenna to WiFi box will need to support both h.264 and MPEG-2, and pay the licensing fees for both. And you will need a rather sophisticated ship to do the transcoding in real time.

Here is one such chip that cost $216 each in quantities when it was released in 2007. If there was a market, such a chip would probably cost less than $100 today...


 > 3. Hardware acceleration - again, licensing costs make it expensive to
 support MPEG-2.

I'd be surprised if MPEG-2 isn't already supported in accelerators, because that's all there was for a long time.

There is a good chance that the chips used in many mobile devices "could" decode MPEG-2. Most GPU vendors do support both MPEG-2 and h.264. But the $2 per unit license (uncapped) is a major barrier to support.

For example: Apple sold more than 37 million iPhones and 15 million iPads in the first fiscal quarter of 2012. To support MPEG-2 the license fees for this quarter alone would have been $104 million. The royalty for h.264 is capped at $6.5 million annually.


In any event, once again, the box can always transcode to H.264, if that's really necessary.

See above.

 NO BERT. It is because ATSC does not work for mobile and ATSC M/H is
 too inefficient.

Nope. Define "too inefficient," and provide a point of comparison. It isn't hard to do, Craig. Work it out, so maybe you'll convince yourself.

You missed it, Craig. What "broadcaster"? Let's say Sinclair builds out this LTE infrastructure for the Baltimore market area. They may be the only "broadcaster" transmitting OTA TV signals in Baltimore, or perhaps there may be one other LTE TV net in that market.

I should let Mark answer this, and hope he will. But broadcasters are not throwing in the towel. What is likely to happen is that we will see many second tier broadcasters take the money and run, or choose to sell their spectrum and rent a sub-channel from a station that does not sell.

But the broadcasters who remain are likely to stay with ATSC 1.0 for some period of time until ATSC 2.0 is finished and transmission hardware is available for deployment. My educated guess is that broadcasters will begin the planning for a new transmission business model in parallel with the development of the standard. This planning will include discussions/negotiations with the existing cellular infrastructure providers AND studies to determine if broadcasters can build out the new distributed infrastructure on their own.

In the end, we are going to see the industry move to a shared/distributed transmission infrastructure, and I strongly suspect that this infrastructure will be paid for based on a usage or carriage model. What is carried, and whether these bits will be "free" or paid for is very much "up in the air." But we can already see what is happening with Internet streaming, so broadcasters are likely to have little choice but to follow a similar model.

So, my guess is, the other content owners, now no longer "broadcasters," would either pay Sinclair for carriage (using ad revenues?), or Sinclair would pay them to carry their signals, and keep the ad revenue? Or some combination of this.

They would pay for carriage, just as Sinclair would pay for carriage. I would assume that the licenses used for this carriage would be pooled and that the license owners would get some form of royalty to offset their own carriage charges. And I would assume that at some date in the future the politicians would say these royalty fees should go to the government.

This new utility is more labor intensive than the previous big sticks, though. So unless the ad revenues go up somehow, that extra cost will be covered by a subscription fee. *Very much* like the original CATV systems. And we all know what they morphed into.

No it is not more labor intensive. You are simply trading off the costs of a big stick infrastructure for more smaller sticks. Big sticks are very expensive to build and to operate. And with the distributed model you have more industries sharing the physical infrastructure.

At this point, you HAVE to ask, what do CBS, Fox, ABC, etc. do to get their content on the air in Baltimore? If Sinclair owns the transmission infrastructure, then why would these congloms go to anyone other than Sinclair? So, the other "broadcasters" will be competing only for local news, weather, and whatever community events they cover.

First, it is unlikely that the government would allow ANY one company to own all of the TV spectrum in one market. In large market it is highly likely there will still be at least five broadcasters, if not more. As for the business model for mobile broadcasting all I can say is this:

Local broadcasters will need to create a compelling argument for their continued existence, as the congloms (and major content franchises, especially sports) will be able to play broadcasters against the telcos for the best carriage deals.

So the REAL question here is WHO is going to build the LTE broadcast infrastructure?

Existing broadcasters?

The telcos?

A partnership of both?


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