NextGen TV (aka ATSC 3.0) is the future of broadcasting, and you might already have access...

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,576   +174
Staff member
Editor's take: I've long been a proponent of cutting the cord – that is, ditching cable or satellite television service in favor of alternatives like over-the-top solutions and streaming services delivered over the Internet. The dream of true a la carte programming never materialized, but it is still possible to save money compared to traditional providers and free over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts continue to very much be a part of that formula. With the proliferation of streaming services, you may be surprised to learn that OTA technology has continued to evolve.

The latest in broadcast technology is ATSC 3.0, which is also known as NextGen TV. Since 2019, the Consumer Technology Association has been certifying equipment that is ATSC 3.0 compliant. A year later, Las Vegas became the first city in the US to permanently make the switch to the new broadcasting tech.

ATSC 2.0 was to be a thing, but it never actually launched. The planned features of ATSC 2.0 were rolled into the 3.0 standard.

NextGen TV is capable of supporting 4K HDR video at up to 120 frames per second but outside of a handful of tests, it doesn't appear as if any stations are broadcasting in 4K yet. Other benefits include improved audio delivery, automatic volume leveling, boosted dialogue and (when combined with Internet connectivity), interactive content.

You'll need a compatible tuner to view a station's NextGen TV channels as well as an antenna. Several newer televisions from Sony, Samsung, LG and Hisense already include the requisite tuner which can be paired with a standard HDTV antenna that you may already own. External tuners are also available.

As of late October, around 62 percent of the continental US population can receive NextGen TV. Interested parties can plug in their city over on the NextGen TV website to check for local availability.

It's worth nothing that unlike the transition to DTV in 2009, the move to 3.0 isn't mandatory. This means there won't be a subsidy program for compatible equipment, but also that ATSC 1.0 will still be safe for a while longer. Once a provider switches to ATSC 3.0, they will be required to simulcast ATSC 1.0 for a period of five years.

Image credit: Obayda Ph

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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,957   +7,004
So will NextGenTV have even worse signal quality then DTV? The move to DTV made the experience terrible, it was like satellite, a vehicle drives by or there's some wind and you'd start losing signal like a skipping DVD. With analog you'd get a bit of fuzziness but the program was not interrupted.

The move to DTV helped break the family form its TV habit just because of how annoying it was. these days I wouldnt even want OTA TV. Way too many ads and low quality shows for it to matter anymore.
 

psycros

Posts: 4,571   +6,885
When I lived in the country DTV effectively took away 2 of the 3 channels I could receive for most of the year: I could still pick up one of them when there were no leaves on the trees. Analog's reception range was so much better, and it was the rural TV viewers with no cable access who actually *needed* OTA.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
All I'm seeing is Smart TV's, which means that no matter how the signal travels it is subject to being hacked along with your system. Been there, done that and now only buy a "dumb" TV and add a Roku device that won't access or be accessed by the "Smart" functions.
 

Julnor

Posts: 69   +79
All I'm seeing is Smart TV's, which means that no matter how the signal travels it is subject to being hacked along with your system. Been there, done that and now only buy a "dumb" TV and add a Roku device that won't access or be accessed by the "Smart" functions.

You're absolutely right, I think there was even an article a couple of weeks back about that on here, or elsewhere.

There are still regular HDTVs on sale though if you look. A bit rare probably, but they're there. I think LG and Westinghouse do have models, and I'm sure there are other brands.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,420   +7,867
So will NextGenTV have even worse signal quality then DTV? The move to DTV made the experience terrible, it was like satellite, a vehicle drives by or there's some wind and you'd start losing signal like a skipping DVD. With analog you'd get a bit of fuzziness but the program was not interrupted.

The move to DTV helped break the family form its TV habit just because of how annoying it was. these days I wouldnt even want OTA TV. Way too many ads and low quality shows for it to matter anymore.
ATSC 3.0 and its engineers are well aware of the problems with ATSC 1.0 reception, especially Multipath interference which is ATSC 1.0's utter failing.

For instance https://www.atsc.org/news/sony-puts-atsc-3-0-mobility-to-the-test/
Yes, the fact that reception was seen halfway through a tunnel was impressive. Of course, RF ducting was occurring, but it was still cool to see.
As I understand it, reception was received on a laptop with a USB "stick" tuner while driving in a car inside a tunnel. No way would that have worked with ATSC 1.0 - DTV as you call it.
 
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Jrfeimst2

Posts: 70   +87
Just for everyone to know. I have an ATSC 3.0 tuner but there is no difference in picture quality vs the regular channel. At least for me in NC there is no difference and basically a waste of money right now. I have the 3.0 channels but nothing is in 4K.
 

seeprime

Posts: 699   +923
All I'm seeing is Smart TV's, which means that no matter how the signal travels it is subject to being hacked along with your system. Been there, done that and now only buy a "dumb" TV and add a Roku device that won't access or be accessed by the "Smart" functions.
My last smart TV was not online. I used a Roku for streaming. I don't know if that's better or not. I do know that it's a lot cheaper to replace than a large screen 4k TV.
 

Rocky4040

Posts: 144   +174
Where I live, we went from having over the air TV reception to nothing when they switched to DTV. I have moved to 3 different places since that all took place and none of the places have DTV signals. Mainly because any of the smaller channels decided it was not worth the time and effort to upgrade to DTV signal output in areas other than the big cities. our only options now for Tv watching is Netflix, Prime Video, & if you can stomach it Disney+ all of which get rather boring after a while if you watch all of the stuff that interests you and they have nothing else to offer you. I'm sure there are more options, but most require monthly subscriptions like Netflix & Amazon Prime does and after a few media subs it becomes a bit costly and leaves you thinking hmm well I dropped Cable because of the cost but now with our 3-4 sub's it cost as much or more than cable did.
 

Squuiid

Posts: 68   +49
Anything comparable to this standard in the UK or Europe?
We have about nine 1080i channels and the rest is 480p. Would love me some 4K FTA.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
My last smart TV was not online. I used a Roku for streaming. I don't know if that's better or not. I do know that it's a lot cheaper to replace than a large screen 4k TV.

As long as you set the TV up to NOT automatically connect to the network and just have the Roku connect you'll be fine. You have to do this through set up and not rely on the automatic settings because they default to the network connection .....
 

TheBigT42

Posts: 692   +727
So will NextGenTV have even worse signal quality then DTV? The move to DTV made the experience terrible, it was like satellite, a vehicle drives by or there's some wind and you'd start losing signal like a skipping DVD. With analog you'd get a bit of fuzziness but the program was not interrupted.

The move to DTV helped break the family form its TV habit just because of how annoying it was. these days I wouldnt even want OTA TV. Way too many ads and low quality shows for it to matter anymore.
You need a better Antenna. I get all my locals in HD and I am 30 miles out.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,420   +7,867
You need a better Antenna. I get all my locals in HD and I am 30 miles out.
It really depends on where you live relative to where the transmitters are - for DTV, AKA "Atsc 1.0". For instance, I live in somewhat of valley where there is no Line-of-sight access to the transmitters. Much of the signal where I live is reflected from structures north of us when the transmitters are to our south. This causes Multipath interference (from the analog TV days, remember what sometimes happened when an Airplane flew overhead where the signal would phase in and out?) that is Multipath interference and is killer for DTV (Atsc 1.0) primarily because of the 8VSB modulation schema in the standard. BTW - I live near a medium sized city where all the stations converted to ATSC 1.0, and our reception when to :poop: for some of the stations.

My solution was to get a small, directional antenna and put in a super-low-noise amplifier. http://www.kitztech.com/products.html that was the only thing that would mostly reliably get good OTA reception in my location.

Believe it or not, dead zones like mine exist around the US and even near big cities like Boston. In these dead-zone locations, it may take more than a better antenna to get better reception, or even any reception at all.

Still, my city is on the list for adoption of ATSC 3.0 - I'll take that any day over DTV - ATSC 1.0 because they eliminated the "multipath reflection" problem.

When I lived in the country DTV effectively took away 2 of the 3 channels I could receive for most of the year: I could still pick up one of them when there were no leaves on the trees. Analog's reception range was so much better, and it was the rural TV viewers with no cable access who actually *needed* OTA.
That's in part because many stations switched from VHF frequencies to UHF frequencies (with ATSC 1.0 (DTV) the channel numbers that appear on your TV are virtual channel numbers that do not indicate the frequency at which they broadcast like they did in the analog days (2-13 VHF, 14-69 (or 81 if you are old enough to remember) UHF).

UHF frequencies are inhibited by anything with water in them - which includes tree leaves. If you want to place blame for this, blame the FCC and Cell Phones. Some of the old TV VHF spectrum was sold off to Cell Phone companies. Perhaps a better antenna and/or an amplifier like the ones I linked above would help, perhaps not, but its a good indicator that in the "leaf free" season, you get the stations - that the signal is still there in the leaf season only it is attenuated below your OTA tuner's sensitivity level. Boosting it with a good amplifier (don't get some cheap POS from Amazon or someplace - get something like in the link I posted above. Those amplifiers that they guy sells are, by far, the best available TV amplifiers - if you are interested enough. Personally, I'd recommend the KT-200, mounted as close as possible to your antenna, and no, I don't work for them nor am I associated with them. I'm just a very satisfied user of their product.


Just for everyone to know. I have an ATSC 3.0 tuner but there is no difference in picture quality vs the regular channel. At least for me in NC there is no difference and basically a waste of money right now. I have the 3.0 channels but nothing is in 4K.
Its not the technology, its the content providers. The technology is superior, and just like other devices capable of rendering 4K media, you have to have the content to render in 4K. ATSC 3.0 has that capability where as ATSC 1.0 only supports up to 1080p.

For me, I would immediately purchase an ATSC 3.0 tuner if/when we get ATSC 3.0 stations in our area because reception, in general, would improve even if there were no 4K content.
 
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