Unlike the FCC mandated conversion from analog television to DTV and HDTV back in 2009, broadcasters have been quietly updating TV infrastructure to offer enhancements made possible by Internet video innovations. This is marketed under the name NEXTGEN TV, also known as ATSC 3.0 (tech overview video).
The first advantage is that it’s a free over-the-air (OTA) broadcast (TANSAAFL), just earlier analog TV, DTV, and HDTV. No need for cable, satellite, or streaming service bills – everyone near the transmitter can see the same content.
Another benefit is that it’s wireless. This makes it a great compliment to wired streaming services. If your cable or internet service is down due to a storm, you’ll still be able to access live news and entertainment – with no buffering, even during peak viewing hours, and in any weather.
One of the most noticeable benefits to consumers will be the increased picture quality with 4K UHD resolution (supporting HDR) and theater quality sound.
As time passes, we’ll see more and more TVs and devices shipping with ATSC 3.0 support built-in. As long as your TV is 4K and you already have an antenna capable of receiving the DTV signals in your area (typically UHF), you can simply purchase a NextGen TV tuner like the HDHomeRun Connect 4K (which can also stream received content to a wide variety of devices) and be ready to receive these broadcasts as soon as they’re available in your area.
I’ve seen a variety of deployment maps and timelines. Most suggest that ATSC 3.0 will become available in the Columbus market starting in 2020, but I’ve reached out to local stations and here are their planned NextGen TV conversion dates:
WCMH – No response.
WBNS – No response.
WTTE – Estimated in January 2021.
WOSU – No response.
WWHO – No response.
I plan to update the info above as I receive more info.