CableLabs Invention May Threaten Broadcasters

In a move that could make it more challenging for local broadcasters to squeeze increased retransmission-consent fees from pay TV distributors, CableLabs has developed technology that could help more subscribers receive free local broadcast content.

CableLabs members such as Time Warner Cable have previously handed out free rabbit ears antennas to subscribers impacted by blackouts that result from retransmission-consent disputes with local broadcasters. The CableLabs invention, detailed in a patent application published on Thursday, is focused on correcting reception errors within a portion of over-the-air TV signals.

“This invention may eliminate the need for MSOs having to retransmit broadcast signals over the cable plant–they rely on antenna reception. However, customers still get the cable QoE (Quality of Experience) and channel guide that they are used to with cable service,” CableLabs states in the patent application.

Donley
Donley

CableLabs Director of Innovation Chris Donley is named as inventor on the patent application, titled, “Correction Of Over-The-Air Signals.”

Abstract: Correction of errors within over-the-air signaling is contemplated. The error correction may include correcting over-the-air signaling used to facilitate transmitting content, broadcast television, etc. according to error correction data transmitted separately from the over-the-air signaling. A receiver may be configured to process the over-the-air signaling according to the error correction data so as to facilitate the contemplated error correction.

Claims: 

1. A method to improve over-the-air television signals comprising: determining a reception error within a portion of over-the-air television signals received at a receiver; and facilitating creation of a correction based at least in part on error correction data received at the receiver separately from the over-the-air television signals, the correction facilitating display of the portion with correction of the reception error so as to improve the over-the-air broadcast television signals.

2. The method of claim 1 further comprising: determining the portion to correspond with one or more video frames; determining the error correction data to be forward error correction (FEC) code transmitted to the receiver separately from the over-the-air broadcast television signals; and creating the correction by applying the FEC code to the portion.

3. The method of claim 1 further comprising: determining the portion to correspond with a first one or more video frames; determining the error correction data to be a second one or more video frames transmitted to the receiver separately from the over-the-air broadcast television signals; and creating the correction by replacing one or more of the first one or more video frames with a matching one or more video frames from the second one or more video frames.

4. The method of claim 3 further comprising replacing the one or more of the first one or more video frames with the matching one or more video frames from the second one or more video frames by actuating a switch included in the receiver from a first interface to a second interface, the first interface receiving the over-the-air broadcast television signals and the second interface receiving the first error correction data.

5. The method of claim 1 further comprising receiving the error correction data at the receiver following receipt of the portion.

6. The method of claim 5 further comprising buffering the portion at the receiver for a period of time sufficient to facilitate creation of the correction for display, the period of time being at least as long as a time elapsing from the receiver receiving the portion and then receiving the error correction data.

7. The method of claim 1 further comprising recovering the error correction data from one or more packets transmitted to the receiver over the Internet using Internet Protocol (IP) addressing.

8. The method of claim 1 further comprising recovering the error correction data from signals transmitted to the receiver over a coaxial cable from a headend.

9. The method claim 1 further comprising determining the over-the-air broadcast television signals from signals having vestigial sideband modulation with eight discrete amplitude levels.

10. A non-transitory computer-readable medium having a plurality of instructions operable with a processor of a receiver to facilitate over-the-air content signaling, the instructions being sufficient to facilitate: determining a reception error identified for a portion of the over-the-air content signaling following receipt at the receiver, the reception error being determined at the receiver from processing of the received over-the-air television signaling; generating a correction for the reception error according to error correction data transmitted to the receiver separately from the over-the-air content signaling, the correction facilitating display of the portion with correction of the reception error.

11. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 10 further comprising instructions sufficient for determining the reception error to correspond with one or more video frames associated with the portion that a decoder of the receiver is unable to decode for display.

12. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 11 further comprising instructions sufficient for re-creating the one or more video frames according to the error correction data such that the decoder is able to decode the re-created video frames for display.

13. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 12 further comprising instructions sufficient for re-creating the one or more video frames using forward error correction (FEC) codes included within the error correction data.

14. The non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 12 further comprising instructions sufficient for re-creating the one or more video frames by replacing the one or more video frames with a corresponding one or more video frames included within the error correction data.

15. A receiver configured to facilitate display of video frames transmitted through over-the-air broadcast television signals comprising: a first interface configured to receive the over-the-air broadcast television signals; a second interface configured to receive error correction data transmitted separately from the over-the-air broadcast television signals; and a controller operable with the first and second interface to facilitate displaying the video frames carried within the over-the-air broadcast television signals according to the error correction data.

16. The receiver of claim 15 wherein the controller is operable to correct errors within the video frames according to forward error correction (FEC) codes included within the error correction data.

17. The receiver of claim 15 wherein the controller is operable to replace video frames received through the first interface having reception errors with video frames included within the error correction data received through the second interface.

18. The receiver of claim 15 wherein the first interface is configured to wirelessly receive the over-the-air broadcast television signals from signals having vestigial sideband modulation with eight discrete amplitude levels using an antenna having capabilities sufficient to facilitate multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO).

19. The receiver of claim 15 further comprising a buffer configured to buffer the video frames received through the first interface for a period of time sufficient to enable receipt of error correction data for the buffered video frames.

20. The receiver of claim 15 wherein the controller is operable to facilitate transmitting the error correction data received through the second interface to additional receivers connected to a local network, the additional receivers processing error correction data to facilitate correcting errors in video output therefrom.