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What is ATSC 3.0 Over-the-Air TV?

Last week at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show, there was a lot of buzz about ATSC 3.0, the new over-the-air TV standard. The biggest news is that 40 stations will start to roll out the new next gen OTA TV standard. This means that soon you will get great features like 4K and enhanced sound!

But what exactly is ATSC 3.0 and what will it do?

What is ATSC?

ATSC stands for the Advanced Television Systems Committee. This is the group that works in partnership with TV station owners, the NAB, and manufacturers to come up with broadcast TV standards. These standards mean the TV you buy will work with all OTA TV stations.

The current OTA TV standard is called ATSC 1.0, but no one 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, “What happened to ATSC 2.0?” In short, the standard was made and included features like interactive content, video on demand, and advanced video compression. But after it was created, 4K and 4K HDR became popular. It was decided that the industry would rather not spend money to launch ATSC 2.0 just to have 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 are really exciting for cordcutters are 4K HDR picture with better sound and better OTA TV coverage.

There are other great features like 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 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 older antennas work with new digital TV, today’s antennas will work with 3.0 TV.

Will you need a new TV?

The good news is no — you won’t need a new TV, 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 the day a station moves to 3.0 OTA TV, 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.

If you don’t want to buy a new TV, you won’t have to miss 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 TV’s HDMI port.

But keep in mind, it will be six to seven years before anyone is forced to upgrade their TVs or devices.

We hope this post has answered some of your questions! Keep an eye out for continued coverage of the latest ATSC 3.0 news.