Currently, there are no over the air 4K TV broadcasts available although a plan has been in the tunnel for a while now. Currently, there is a limited voluntary roll out program regarding a new TV standard broadcast which is known as ATSC 3.0 which along with many other features will be able to broadcast 4K UHD picture quality. The plan for ATSC 3.0 has been in pipelines for years and it is being referred to as “Next Gen TV”. Although TV technology is advancing rapidly the ATSC 3.0 technology has not picked up the pace and there is still a long way for it to go. So do not get your hopes too high because there is no indication of this technology becoming widely available anytime soon.
Many aspects of ATSC 3.0 have been finalized but there are many details that are still missing or are yet to be decided. Although the program has rolled out in several tests stations that includes markets like Phoenix and Dallas, there are many details that are yet to be figured out. The details regarding mobile and viewer tracking are the ones that have yet to be decided or made public. Even the areas that have been selected as the test market have a very limited number of stations that have the equipment required to broadcast ATSC 3.0 signal. Another major factor which has been hindering the development of this technology is the fact that the tuner technology that is able to catch this type of signal is currently not even available on any type of commercially available TV sets.
What this technology does is that it basically highly improves the quality of already available over the air TV which is loved by certain people and is available for free. The people who are using this technology don’t have to pay for satellite, cable or streaming as they can catch the free over the air signals. With ATSC 3.0 the quality of this service will improve greatly as the technology promises refresh rates of 120Hz, Ultra HD 4K resolution, better reception, high dynamic range, better mobile reception, and many other exciting features. If you are getting all these amazing features for free what else can you ask for? But the question still remains “When?” and nobody knows the answer to this for sure.
According to the executive vice president of communications at National Association of Broadcasters Dennis Wharton, there is a chance that TV sets that are able to receive ATSC 3.0 signals are available in stores by the end of 2020. This is one of the first estimates that we know and the one that actually gives us an approximate date but there are two problems to it. One is that it is still very far away and the other problem is that even if these television sets are available commercially, it will still take a lot of time for this technology to become widely available because TV stations will also have to get the technology that can support ATSC 3.0 broadcast and that can take a long time.
There are many exciting features that this technology can introduce to the masses and that too for free. As far as some of the main features are concerned they are higher quality video which is free and over the air. However, this technology introduces some interesting new features too and those are getting a mixed reaction from the general public as well as experts. The technology gives broadcasters the authority to turn on your TV sets remotely if there is any type of disaster and they want to send an emergency signal. It also allows you to have interactive features which are enabled by the internet.
However, the most controversial feature of this technology is still the “return data path” which will allow the broadcaster or station that you have tuned into to know that you are watching their channel. Although this will allow TV broadcasters to know exactly what kind of shows are being watched by what type of people but it will also allow marketing companies to hit you with targeted advertisement. For examples, companies will be able to make sure that you see the ads that are according to your viewing habits or even according to the type of neighborhood that you are living in.