DVB should move to work with telecommunications?#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

In the panel discussion, Christoph Schaaf added information on the future of DVB-C2 .  The game is essentially about distributing video over IP, and using hybrid systems like HbbTV.  The cable industry will migrate from conventional channel carriage to IP delivery.    

Inez Sanchez added more about what DVB-Sx may be used for – broadcasting is one area – and Hispasat were demonstrating DTH of Ultra-HD at DVB World.   Another (a little disconcerting?) application may be to serve unmanned observation airplanes.   

 Thomas Wrede suggested that there may be an alternative to the ‘Tower overlay’ concept in the wider application of Wifi solutions.   

 Ulrich Reimers suggested that the future role for DVB should be in working together with the mobile world to create new systems – DVB should no longer be just about broadcasting. 

 Alberto Morello asked about the potential market introduction problems of new systems such as those using MIMO, which would require new receiving equipment?

 Chair Nick Wells asked how many participants thought there would be the ‘domino effect’ speculated by Ulrich Reimers in his presentation (see earlier blog) would happen.  About 80% thought not.      

 Chair also asked the participants how many thought that the role of DVB should move in the direction of working more with telecommunications systems.   The overwhelming majority of delegates thought so.    What about you? 

DVB-Sx for September 2013#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Thomas Wrede, who has led the DVB CM activity on an extended DVB-S2, explained the results of the work to date.   With the ‘evolutionary approach’, they expect over 20% gain in a standard DTH transponder – even over 30% under high SNR conditions.   Tests have been made by SES which suggested a figure of 23% will be very possible. 

The improvement is achieved by a combination of tools including higher level modulation.  For the time being this new system is called ‘DVB-Sx’. 

The uses of DVB-Sx will include both contribution and distribution.  Markets are also developing in broadband Internet.  Thomas believes the ‘mass market trigger’ for chip development will be UHDTV with HEVC.  Do you agree? 

 The hope is to have the specification from the DVB TM by September 2013.

There is also DVB work underway on a possible ‘revolutionary’ extension of DVB-S2, but it is too early to report on this. 

There is an interesting report from the technology company NewTech (distributed to delegates) about what efficiency gains would be needed to be commercially successful – the results argue for the success of DVB-Sx.     

DVB-T2 in Germany now? Forget it.#dvbw13

12/03/2013 by

Day 2 of DVB World began with a vote.  How many delegates think there will be a ‘new’ digital terrestrial television system – let’s say DVB-T3.   About 60% thought there will be such a system.  Are you surprised?

 The first presentation was given by the formidable DVB Alumnus, Ulrich Reimers.   The first part concerned the potential for introducing DVB-T2 in Germany.  A field trial report is available from DigiTAG.   He noted that RTL, who have a quarter of the national audience, have ‘pulled-out’ of DTT in Germany.  Ulrich thinks that the public will ‘leave’ conventional DTT as a consequence.   He said:  “DVB-T2 in Germany now – Forget it”    He asked whether there could be a domino effect across Europe withdrawing from DTT?   What do you think? 

 What if classical DTT goes away in Germany – what then – how will the ‘broadcast services be delivered?    One option could be to use UHF spectrum for ‘Dynamic Broadcasting’?   This is the combination of DTT and LTE – but only possible if there is DTT.  Another option is to use multicast Internet (eMBMS) – but this is not so practical because users have different data capacities, and thus multiple multicast streams would be needed.     Using LTE in unicast mode is another option which has also been evaluated.   Ulrich’s team have concluded that there is no proven technology yet for providing equivalent services to broadcasting – neither LTE unicast nor eMBMS.  

 Ulrich put forward a new configuration called ‘Tower Overlay over LTE’ which may be able to provide the solution.   DVB-T2 could act as an LTE carrier.  Some band plans have been devised which could accommodate this.   

Is this a new ‘revolution’ for broadcasting?

TV is Spain falls mainly on the DTT#dvbw13

11/03/2013 by

DTT is the most important means of broadcasting – far more than cable or satellite – Pere Vila from the Spanish National Broadcaster, RTVE, explained.  Spain is a country that relies of digital terrestrial television broadcasting.  RTVE is obliged to provide DTT for more than 98% of the country, and to do so,  they have over 2000 transmitters.

Terrestrial is big business here.  They have 8 multiplexes of six TV channels each for the whole nation (“we have some problems with quality”).  In Madrid, there are 11 multiplexes.   The daily average DTT viewing time in Spain is over four hours a day!    Is there any time for the siesta?

Internet viewing is growing – though satellite and cable use are not.  Internet is mostly accessed by mobiles, with Tablets and Conected TV growing in importance.

One of the challenges they face is the transition UHDTV – with its need for higher bit rates and simulcasting.   With the massive legacy of MPEG2 SDTV, how do you think they should do it?

Hybrid success for ZDF at the OG#dvbw13.

11/03/2013 by

Sadly a little plagued by technical difficulties during his presentation, Andreas Bereczky from ZDF provided an insight into the company’s activities in hybrid broadcasting.

The company made a very great effort with the Olympic Games via the their HbbTV service, which is gaining ground considerably in home receivers. The results were very succesful.   Using HbbTV, it was possible to greatly enlarge the range of sports events that were simultaniously available .

Andreas explained that many questions are open about the cost of distribution by Internet when the whole population of Germany tries to use it , and to which he has not been able to find answers.  But, for sure, the use of Internet enlarged the offer available by broadcasters.

Do you think the costs of using Internet to the ‘whole’ population will ever be economically viable?

Sky Deutschland and innovation, including Ultra-HD#dvbw13

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Oliver Lewis from Sky Deutschland explained the range of services offered by Sky Deutschland, and gave some insight into the company’s strategy.   The company has seen rapid growth in its HDTV services.  No surprise.

 They have also moved heavily into services delivered by Internet, including iPAD apps, and services for iphones.   Interestingly these include shorter length items, such as the beginning of a movie that the viewer might want to see whether he is likely to watch it in full later on.

 One of the areas of this imaginative company’s strategy is Ultra-HD (4k) and this was something that many delegates were excited to hear.  Sky Deutschland has recently shot a football match in Germany in Ultra-HD, to gain experience.  Would they be pressed to say when such broadcasting services might begin?  No, Oliver explained that this would depend on the availability of the appropriate display in the home, and the production infrastructure for Ultra-HD, but it would be ‘some years hence’.   Nevertheless, the company does see Ultra-HD as a priority for the next few years.

 Would you like to make at guess at when we will see Ultra-HD broadcasting?

Hispasat future bright#dvbw13

11/03/2013 by

How will satellites deal with the increasing demand for higher quality video and the connected TV trend?  Jordi Bosom from Hispasat gave the view of a satellite operator.   

 This is really an exciting time for satellite operators, with ever increasing demand for capacity, and with the DVB project coming along like a good fairy with technology that will enable existing satellite transponder to increase the data ‘throughput’.  There are several paths being worked on in the DVB Project, one which is compatible,  and another, which will give a larger increase,  and which will not be compatible. 

 I was  astounded to hear that given low error correction, the DVB-Sx (the new system) could have a capacity even more than 170Mbit/s for a 36MHz transponder.   This puts even Super-Hi-Vision well in its grasp. 

 Hispasat have ambitious plans to develop their services for the Iberian world, and hope to move in a significant way into HbbTV.  

 All in all, a pretty attractive market situation?     

Phil looks back to the bad old days.

11/03/2013 by

Phil Laven, DVB Chair,  opened DVB World ‘proper’.  He pointed out that DVB systems are now used all over the world, and according to screen digest, have about 70% of digital television.   The fastest growing segment is digital terrestrial television using the DVB-T/T2 forms. 

 This is the 20th anniversary of the start of the DVB Project, so Phil took the occasion to look back at the evolution of ideas about whether standards should politically mandated.  He thought the European situation has improved.   I guess you could argue a lot about this.   He suggested that there is however an anomaly in that satellite and cable standards are set by industry, but terrestrial standards are often set (sometimes) by ‘political decisions’.  

 He was also concerned that there is political pressure in some countries not to adopt DVB-T2, and that this is based on non factual information (I am being very polite here – not like Phil).   

 But in the end, people may have a variety of reasons for using technology – including some which are not about performance.    Do you agree? 

Lieven Leavin…looking at the real problem, investment#dvbw13

11/03/2013 by

The keynote presentation was given by the EBU’s Director of Technology and Innovation, Leaven Vermaele who will be leaving the EBU later in the year (hence fatuous title to this item).

He gave his vision of the trends and tendencies for media, which essentially is about the spreading of media availability to a range of devices – fixed, portable, and mobile, for a range of different viewing contexts that roughly correspond to fixed large displays, second screens, and on the move devices.

He argued that a fundamental problem is that in order to deliver media at high quality, network operators need to invest more in infrastructure. The problem is seeing where this money may come from to pay for it. It can only come from the consumer, who may in the end be unwilling to pay more for content. What’s a girl to do?

He argued that broadcasters and broadband must work together to create the future, and that we need a European digital agenda that includes broadcasting and broadband, rather than just broadband (as some EU politicians suggest).

Leaven is adept at using analogies – and in fact the human ‘transport system’ analogy is dead on to explain the problems of internet delivery. I also loved the kitchen analogy for digital services.

All in all, it seems that network operators have much larger barriers to success than broadcasters, and that the day when Internet replaces broadcasting is at least decades away. Do you agree?

The World’s Best Compression System – by any other name?#dvbw13.

11/03/2013 by

Monday, 11 March 2013

DVB World begins with a must-know information tutorial session, as usual.

This year, thanks to the boys at HHI, its about the new ‘wonder-compression’ technology HEVC.  HEVC is the latest in the ever improving family of video and audio compression systems, which arise from the work of the MPEG group.
I need to be very careful in labelling this as ‘MPEG’, because I am told it’s actually work done by a ‘joint’ group of the ISO/IEC JTC and the ITU-T – so we could call it H.265 (an ITU numbering approach) as well as MPEG-4-HEVC (an ISO/IEC numbering approach).  You receive a ‘visit’ from one or other of the Director generals if you get this wrong,

These systems are precipitated largely by advances in potential chip density, and greater knowledge, and come out every 6-10 years. Engineer Ken McCann produces a curve showing the improvement in efficiency each time – though he must be running off the end of the page by now.
The first HEVC specification came out in January this year . First users may be to use if for carry HDTV ( at 2-3 Mbit/s?) via the Internet. It is also set to be the ‘great enabler’ for Ultra-HD delivery, where it should bring bit rates needed down to say, 20 Mbit/s – quite possible to broadcast, as this was where HDTV started seven years ago.
The new technology has additional ‘tools’ for compressing video such as ‘variable block size’, and from test results I have seen, it lives up to its expectations.
Let’s just wait and see what the licensing terms are, before we get run-away enthusiastic though.