DigiTAG seeks to inform members and non-members about important developments in the digital terrestrial television market. Each month, DigiTAG distributes its web letter with news updates and further exploration of one topic.
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Implementation of Hybrid Television Services
The outlook for television receivers connected to the Internet is very positive. According to Strategy Analytics, 42 million households already watch content from the Internet on their television sets while Digital TV Research predicts that 551 million television sets will be connected to the Internet by 2016.
The means for accessing such content vary. Strategy Analytics forecasts that the global sales of Internet-connected TV set-top boxes will more than double in 2011 compared to 2010. The market for “connected” television sets is also growing. A study by DisplaySearch shows that the number of units shipped per year worldwide will rise from 40 million in 2010 to 123 million in 2014.
Various technologies are available to enable television sets to integrate broadcast and broadband services. Three open standards, MHEG-IC, GEM/MHP, and HbbTV, have been developed for the provision of hybrid broadcast / broadband (HBB) television services in addition to the proprietary hybrid solutions made available by many top-brand consumer manufacturers.
Current status of HBB services in Europe
Broadcasters in Europe have indicated their interest in deploying hybrid broadcast / broadband services to viewers. Already, 24 public service broadcasters have agreed to collaborate in the roll-out of hybrid television services in Europe and will promote the use of open standards.
MHEG-IC (Interaction Channel) is an extension of the MHEG interactive middleware and makes use of the same standard protocols used to deliver web content to computers, such as TCP-IP, HTTP and HTTPS. This standard is used in the United Kingdom for its Freeview HD (DVB-T2) and Freesat (DVB-S and DVB-S2) platforms.
HbbTV is an interactive middleware that makes use of existing broadcast and web technologies such as OIPF (Open IPTV Forum), CE-HTML, HTML and the DVB Application Signalling. Since its standardisation by ETSI in June 2010, deployment of the HbbTV standard is in early stages with commercial services so far available in Germany. In addition, HbbTV has been officially selected for hybrid broadcast / broadband services in France, the Netherlands and Spain.
DigiTAG Discussion Paper
Last November, DigiTAG issued a discussion paper entitled The Implementation of Hybrid Television Services in Europe. This paper brings together the requirements related to hybrid television that have been developed by broadcast organisations and industry groups across a number of European markets. It includes the technical specifications, including those in draft format, currently available from France (HD Forum), Italy (HD Forum), the Nordic countries (NorDig) and Spain (AEDETI) as well as the ‘Principles for Internet Connected and Hybrid Television’ issued by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
The Discussion Paper aims to identify requirements at a European level which can be broadly agreed by the industry. However, in an effort to provide complete information, it also includes proposed requirements which some stakeholders in the industry may not support.
Agreed requirements are applicable across several markets and can be implemented for deployment in 2012. These requirements can be found in nearly all of the national requirements for hybrid television services and receivers and have generated support from broadcasters, network operators and the major consumer electronics manufacturers. They cover the key principles for hybrid television services, features for hybrid television services provided by broadcasters, features for hybrid television receivers, and features related to a single standard.
Future requirements are forward-looking and may best be considered as aspirations rather than requirements. They relate to new receiver features, support with external devices, cookie management and the display of content.
Controversial requirements have not achieved consensus, at the time of writing, by all DigiTAG members for implementation in an open retail market.
All requirements address hybrid television receivers (processing digital audiovisual signals in combination with a hybrid application) and hybrid television services provided by broadcasters. Various obligations are placed on service providers, broadcasters and/or platform operators as well as on those receivers sold through the open retail market and when responding to broadcasters’ signals.
With its Discussion Paper, DigiTAG seeks to identify the common requirements for hybrid television services in Europe as well as to provide some understanding of the different positions taken by the various stakeholder groups in the horizontal market for hybrid television services. This can be an important reference and aid to discussion for those countries currently in the process of defining national requirements for hybrid television platforms.
The DigiTAG Discussion Paper can be downloaded from the DigiTAG website.
Source: Natalie Mouyal, on behalf of the DigiTAG Project Office
DigiTAG aims to encourage and facilitate the implementation and introduction of digital terrestrial television services using the Digital Video Broadcasting Project's Standard (DVB-T). It has some 50 members from broadcasting, network operators, regulatory, and manufacturing organisations throughout Europe and beyond.
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DTT NEWS ROUND-UP
For access to the full articles archive, please go to DigiTAG News
France - DTT leading TV platform
The CSA has published its data regarding digital television penetration in France for the first half of 2011.
According to this data, 97.6% of households have digital reception on at least one television set. This is an increase of 11.8 percentage points compared with one year ago. In addition 72% of secondary television sets have digital reception.
Source: CSA website
Italy - Government may cancel DTT tender
Speculation is mounting that the planned tender for 6 DTT multiplexes will be cancelled. These multiplexes were to be allocated following the completion of analogue switch-off in 2012.
The communications regulator AgCom had invited broadcasters to tender for the available multiplexes and begun to shortlist candidates. However, the rules of the tender had been criticized for favouring incumbent broadcasters.
Source: Hollywood Reporter
United Kingdom - Channel 5 withdraws from HD/DTT license process
The communications regulator Ofcom has announced that the broadcaster Channel 5 has withdrawn its application for a license to provide an HD service on the DTT platform.
Channel 5 had been the only applicant for the available license following the invitation issued last September by Ofcom to commercial public service broadcasters.
EU Telecom Council approves RSPP
The European Union's Council, represented by Telecom ministers, has approved the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP).
This draft decision is based on the first version of the RSPP presented by the European Commission in September 2010 and includes a majority of the amendments added by the European Parliament in May 2011. In addition, some amendments have been re-drafted or limited in scope.
Mongolia - Selection of DVB-T2
At its national Digital Broadcasting Forum, the Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) of Mongolia announced plans to use the DVB-T2 standard for its DTT platform.
It currently has a total of 381 transmitters which offers 18 television programme services in the region of the capital city Ulaanbaatar. Approximately 45% of the population lives in Ulaanbaatar while the remaining population lives a nomadic lifestyle.
Source: DVB Scene Enews
France - Analogue switch-off completed
Analogue switch-off has been completed in France. The last region, Languedoc-Roussillon, switched off all of its analogue services on 30 November.
Analogue switch-off began in 2009. In 2010, 10 regions represented 35% of the population completed the process while in 2011, 14 regions representing 65% of the population completed analogue switch-off.
Belarus - ASO not before 2015
Fears are mounting that the transition to digital television may face difficulties.
According to media reports in Belarus, few households are purchasing digital receivers. In the first 11 months of 2011, only 20,000 DTT receivers were sold. This could be due to the cost of set-top boxes which varies between BYR450,000-600,000 (€39- 52).
Source: Broadband TV News
Hungary - 98% coverage by end of year
The broadcast network operator Antenna Hungaria has announced that 300,000 households use the free-to-air DTT platform, MinDig TV. This represents 35% of all terrestrial television households.
In addition, the pay-DTT platform, MinDig TV Extra has nearly 44,000 subscribers. MinDig TV offers viewers access to 7 free-to-air television and 4 radio services while MinDig TV Extra offers an additional 24 television programme services.
Source: Antenna Hungaria website