Ultra-HD, 3D without glasses, and some philosphy#dvbw13

13/03/2013 by

The final session of DVB World examined Ultra-HD (4k) production situation today, via Peter Sykes from Sony.

Understanding the availability of programmes in Ultra-HD is critical to deciding when an Ultra-HD broadcast system will be needed. Sony have a set of 4k cameras now available, and an Ultra HD recording format XAVC (based on AVC), so the elements of Ultra-HD program making are ‘in place’, or at least available for purchasing. Sony also believes that shooting in Ultra-HD is a good policy even for HDTV, because the down converted material makes superb HDTV. Shooting in UHDTV also allows a sports producer to select high quality HD segments of the scene too. I’m sold – are you?

3DTV without glasses has been possible for some years, but has always been somewhat uncomfortable because head positions are constrained. Walt Husak explained the work done by Dolby in developing an auto-stereoscopic display making use of a 4k Ultra HD display. The 3D picture is made up of stripes of images, and a lenticular screen coating arranges for the eyes to see different pairs of images depending on head position. The result should be quite comfortable viewing of 3DTV without glasses. A really great feature here is that the same TV can be used for viewing Ultra-HD, or 3D without glasses with about HDTV quality. This should really sell well – do you agree?

In a final presentation, your blogger took the delegates through an analysis of ‘success factors’ needed for new media to succeed. They include a definite improvement in the user experience, affordability, desirable content, and easy use.  There are many more, and the factors may be different for different age, income groups, etc, but fundamentally any new system has to score highly in these four areas.

During the session, we asked delegates to vote on a number of issues. One was whether technical quality or user convenience is the more important success factor. The surprise was that most people thought convenience outweighs technical quality.

A slight majority thought that, eventually broadband will replace broadcasting – but this is obviously an issue we are nor sure about.

The conference closed with a short presentation by Phil Laven, among other things he pointed out that we may soon need to look more carefully at Wifi frequency allocations – there are obviously not enough of them, and much of the future will depend on using Wifi to bring TV to portable devices in the home.

Maybe that is for next year?

Second screen apps – great, but who pays for them?#dvbw13

13/03/2013 by

The third day of DVB World brought some logistic problems for your blogger – sorry to be so late! I was Chair of the morning, and found it difficult to do the blog at the same time. Here’s a summary of some of the main points from the morning.

The first presentation was from Kevin Murray from Cisco. Kevin is wildly enthusiastic about the prospects for growing use of second screen. He explained the work being done by the DVB Project in preparing specifications, and showed examples of super second screen applications that work ‘hand in hand’ with a TV programme. They amounted to a quiz that the second screen user completes as he is watching the programme. A particularly impressive use also was for showing, on the second screen, subtitles, translations, and comments about the on-going programme. He used a 1945 British movie for the demo (“this is my favourite movie”). Where has he been?

The next presentation, by Ben Renneker from SNL Video, was at once very enthusuaitic about what can be done with second screen applications, and at the same time he was not enthusiastic about a business case. It’s easy to make great second screen apps for sports programmes with statitistics on the player, but these kinds of things do not in themselves earn income. This was Ben’s main message – which second screen apps are great, but a way has to be found to make them pay. He gave a hint that the way must lie by seeing them as augmenting the audience, and therefore of the programme.

The third presentation was from Myra Moore and Simon Frost of Ericsson. Simon is responsible for harvesting consumer views and trends in media across the countries where Ericsson operates. He explained that they find the ‘roller coaster’ of 3DTV is on a downward slope (boo), and the biggest interest area is the use of second screen devices (hooray). Another ‘hooray was that the public that Ericsson serves at leaves appreciates high technical quality, and is enthusiastic about HDTV. We can hope the enthusiasm carries over to UHDTV in future.

So, the morning was a combination of upbeat news that second screen will be important, but it remains to be seen whether the apps can be made ‘financially viable’.

Now it’s MPEG-H#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Benjamin Bross from HHI took delegates through the newly issued HEVC compression system specification.  

What’s in a name?  It’s exactly the same system, but it’s called H.265 from the ITU-T side, and MPEG-H in the ISO and IEC.   Is this difference really necessary? 

The system is globally thought to provide 50% savings compared to MPEG-4 AVC.   Essentially, HEVC provides the same but improved coding tools compared to AVC.

Tests suggest that HEVC performs better for better for higher resolutions, which is good news for UHDTV.   HEVC has a still picture profile, which should provide 20% improvement over JPEG2000. 

The encoder is much more complex than AVC, but the decoder is not much more complex.  

 What impact do you think HEVC will have on our industry?    



New detachable module for conditional access#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Mark Londero Sony provided the history of the evolution of the detachable mechanism used for conditional access with DVB system.   

The original DVB detachable system, DVB-SI, developed in the 1990s was found to be ineffective because it did not contain the encryption system within its walls.  A group of companies set up a company to develop a more secure version, which is termed DVB-CI+.   In recent times, there has been work to bring back the CI+ system into the EBU fold.  The CI+ detachable mechanism has many advantages for broadcasters and users, Mark claimed. 

 CI+ is already in quite widespread use – more than 100 licences today and 200 million devices.

100% of TVs sold in Europe contain CI+.  

 The DVB CI+ will be V1.4, and it will have new features, including content delivery over IP.    The technical specification should be ready in June 2013. 

Will this be the death of the ‘set top box’?   


Going forward, the Commercial Module is looking ahead to potential new module shapes and plugs for future versions.              

Goodbye UHF broadcast bands?#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Nangapuram Venkatesh outlined the current hot spectrum issues at the ITU-R.  

 At the WRC-12 it was agreed that after 2015 (the meeting WRC-15) the ‘700MHz’ band, used today for television broadcasting, should be used for used for both broadcasting and mobile (‘IMT’) – they would be ‘co-primary’ users.  

 The ITU-R was invited to study sharing options for doing so, and this work has been undertaken by ITU groups including ITU-R Study Group 6.  The studies are also considering options for bands above the current TV broadcasting bands (which of course many broadcasters would prefer).  The likely outcome of the WRC-15 is not yet clear however.   

 The work comes together in a Joint Task Group (4-5-6-7) which will be the main source of information for WRC 15.  An input to the group from Study Group 6 has been a collection of replies to a questionnaire about the need for the 700MHz band.  The replies suggested that the need for this band for IMT was limited (hooray?).  A number of administrations were not happy with the questionnaire replies, and were given more time to reply to the questionnaire, so the overall picture is not yet known.

 Things should be more clear after a July meeting of the key group JTG 4-5-6-7.   How do you think it will all turn out?       

DVB-RCS2 offers much#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Damian Palenzuela from Global IP explained how the new Return Channel system DVB-RCS2 is used.  The company uses DVB-RCS2 for uplinks. 

 The advantage of DVB-RCS2 allows fast frequency hopping, which reacts to local weather conditions and the system configuration.  This is the ACS (Adaptive Carrier Selection), which is the major advantage of RCS2.  There is also a high statistical multiplexing gain.   The ACM (Adaptive Coding and Modulation) system allows the uplink to adapt to rain fades.   The advantage of RCS2 is thus the combination of the ACS and ACM which improves reliability.  The system provides also higher capacity, and wider coverage.   Customer prices can be lower. 

 Sound like its win win? 

Eurovision setting and using standards#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Graham Warren from Eurovision explained what is involved in managing a large contribution network.   The figures are impressive.  The Olympic Games in 2012 was the largest television ever seen, carried around the world largely by the Eurovision network with 340MHz bandwidth.   The network is moving to all HD.    There is a dilemma with network capacity in that much network capacity is needed for sports at the weekend, but little during week.   Life has its problems?

 The Eurovision network is planning to use the DVB S2 extension, but in the meantime has been using a proprietary system, which improve data throughput by 25%.   The Eurovision network is also looking forward to using the DVB Carrier ID system.    Will Eurovision use DVB-Sx if its gain is a bit less than 25%?   Graham says yes, because of the advantage of having multiple suppliers for the equipment.  

Multidevice or value for money VOD – which is the best OTT strategy?#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Fernando Solo from Telefonica considered how OTT has changed consumer habits.   

 By 2016 86% of the total world traffic will be video – other traffic is not increasing.  For a network operator, OTT is a difficult area to make profit in.  70% of viewers in Spain do not want to pay for TV content.    OTT is more a component than a substitute for broadcasting in Spain. 

The key to success in OTT will, Fernado argued, be ‘value for money’ – good content at low cost – as Netflix does.  

 Focussing on an extremely multi-device strategy could be, Fernando argued, a mistake – at least in Spain. 

 So, where does the best strategy lie – in serving multidevices, or in a simple low cost high value video on demand?   I am sure we all would like to know.   

New Options for effient OTT?

12/03/2013 by

Scott Brown from Octoshape asked one of the 64,000 Euro questions – how OTT can be made economic serving large numbers of viewers.  The issue is to carry video, which even today consumers over 50% of all internet traffic.  Current unicast charging approaches for CDNs provide do not provide a predictable business model for content providers.   

 Using ‘edge caching’ infrastructure is not efficient, and doesn’t work efficiently for live streaming.   Adaptive streaming can only lower picture quality.   

Scott maintained that UDP transport provides the best option for consistent quality. 

 A solution needs to found which allows multicast to work efficiently, and overcomes the drawbacks of HTTP.   Octoshape believe they have a configuration which works well, by looking for around the best delivery option (multicast enablement) in any given case, and a technology called AMT.   It’s ‘the equivalent of installing a satellite network on the Internet’.  The system makes the business model predictable.    

 Does this make sense to you? 

Is OTT good economics?#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Tom Morrod from Screen Digest offered a perspective on the ‘true cost of OTT’.    

 OTT has allowed a number of ‘new entrants’ in the ‘premium content’ business to enter the market, such as Hulu, Netflix, etc.   He pointed out that consumer spending on TV (rather than going to the cinema or games) is the fastest growing part of the industry.  Current Pay TV operators are also trying to enter the market for multiple devices.   Everyone is ‘trying to do the same thing’ – serve multiple devices.

 One of the key elements of costs is the provision of CDNs.   The costs per stream for CDNs are low per viewer, but the cost mounts with the number of viewers.  Tom reckoned that the costs of HDTV via CDNs are more expensive than broadcast with more than about 5000 viewers.     “There is no economic sense in delivering channels with large audiences via unicast”.    The situation can be reversed for SD channels with very small audiences.  The most efficient approach would be a mix of broadcast and OTT depending on audience size.    Wifi may have an important usage too.  

But will what is most efficient necessarily be what happens?