ATSC, or Advanced Television Systems Committee, is the set of digital television standards used in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and South Korea for transmission over terrestrial, cable, and satellite networks.
A Brief History of ATSC
The ATSC standards were developed in the early 1990s by the Grand Alliance, a group of electronics and telecommunications companies, to create a specification for high definition TV broadcasting. The specification replaced the older analog NTSC standard, which was phased out in 2009.
Key Elements of ATSC
The ATSC standard includes patented components, with licenses required for devices that use them. The most important of these is the 8VSB modulation system, which is used for TV transmissions over the airwaves. The standard allows for the broadcast of both high-definition and standard-definition digital TV signals.
Adoption of ATSC Standards
The ATSC standards were adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1996, and have since been adopted by other countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Canada, South Korea, and El Salvador. Those using older televisions will require an external tuner to decode the new digital signals, as older TVs without an ATSC tuner are not capable of receiving the new broadcasts.
What is the difference between ATSC and NTSC?
ATSC is the digital standard for TV broadcasting in North America, while NTSC is the older analog standard. ATSC allows for the broadcast of high-definition and standard-definition digital TV signals, while NTSC only allowed for standard definition analog signals. ATSC has largely replaced NTSC.
Do I need a special tuner for ATSC?
Most modern TVs come equipped with built-in ATSC tuners, which allow them to receive digital TV signals over the air. However, older TVs will need to be equipped with an external tuner to decode these new digital signals.
The Bottom Line
ATSC is the American standard for digital TV transmission, used for terrestrial, cable, and satellite networks. It includes patented components and allows for the broadcast of high-definition and standard-definition digital TV signals. While older televisions require an external tuner to decode the new digital signals, most modern TVs come equipped with built-in ATSC tuners.