The Digital Video Broadcasting, DVB, consortium announced July 3 approval of the DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification.
The specification includes an HEVC Profile for DVB broadcasting that are consistent with what is necessary to deliver UHDTV, DVB says.
The move raises an important question for U.S. broadcasters as work on this side of the Atlantic proceeds on development of ATSC 3.0 as a next-generation TV broadcast standard. Specifically, since DVB submitted one of the many proposals for the physical layer of ATSC 3.0 months ago, has the consortium amended its original proposal to reflect the new specification?
Peter Siebert, executive director of the DVB, says the ongoing work on the ATSC 3.0 physical layer has slowed progress by the Future of Broadcast Television on a worldwide digital TV standard.
I spoke with Peter Siebert, executive director of DVB, on the telephone to find out. Our conversation grew to cover several other topics, including how the physical layer expertise being devoted to ATSC 3.0 is impacting the work of Future of Broadcast Television worldwide digital TV standard, spectrum give backs around the world and a proposal for cooperation between TV broadcasters and wireless companies on the delivery of video to mobile devices.
DVB was one of several to submit proposals to ATSC for physical layer of 3.0. Has DVB amended its proposal to reflect the new DVB-UHDTV specification?
Let me first say something about the relevance of what we have just done.
The importance of our specification for the industry is that it defines exactly what needs to be implemented in receivers and indirectly gives broadcasters information about what they have to do in their studios.
From the many, many options the MPEG standard has, we defined a subset, and this subset needs to be supported by the broadcast industry. That is the relevance of what we are doing.
Of course, we are doing it for all of the countries and all of the areas where DVB standards are being followed, which is a good part of the world. It goes of course beyond terrestrial and applies to satellite and cable.
It is important, and since it is important we have liaison exchange between DVB and ATSC, so we have kept ATSC in the loop about what we are doing. We also at a very early point in time gave some early drafts and of course we also informed them about the latest status of the document.
So ATSC is informed and now it is up to ATSC to also follow the same proposals we have done in our specification and to also put it into the ATSC suite of theorem, but of course, they can also decide differently. That is up to them.
What has happened with the effort to advance a worldwide digital broadcast standard?
I think the progress on the worldwide broadcast standard has been a little delayed over the last year and this is because the experts who are working on physical layer technology have been involved with ATSC 3.0.
So I think when FoBTV (the Future of Broadcast Television) extends a request for proposal the technologies would not be that much different from what ATSC 3.0 has been investigating. So I think a good strategy for a worldwide standard is to wait until ATSC 3.0 is finalized and then to evaluate whether ATSC 3.0 could be the base of such a worldwide standard.
Here in the United States broadcasters are facing demands for their spectrum and a repack. Are broadcasters in DVB countries facing similar pressures from their governments?
Unfortunately, the pressure on the frequency for terrestrial television are the same everywhere. Here in Europe and other countries there is a very high demand for terrestrial spectrum, and I am afraid that a similar situation as in the U.S. will be seen all around the world.
Are broadcasters around the world in any better positioned to protect their spectrum, or will they be forced to relinquish spectrum?
I think you really have to look at this on a country-by-country basis. There are countries, like Spain, where the major distribution scheme is transmission. In the case of Spain that means 70% of the households receive terrestrial television.
Of course, there is such a big part of the population that is relying on terrestrial television that you cannot take away too much of the spectrum because it would cause a public outcry.
So, we have some countries in Europe that have a very high terrestrial coverage, such as Spain –the highest- France, the U.K., Italy and Greece, and then you have all kinds of variance about how relevant terrestrial is.
But in general, I think in Europe we have the results of the last two radio conferences, and I don’t think it will go beyond where we are today.
We have lost the 800MHz band for terrestrial television. It looks like we will also lose 700MHz, but I hope the rest can be safe for broadcast.
In the United States, Mark Aitken of the Sinclair Broadcast Group made a proposal a couple of years ago calling for development of a broadcast overlay network, essentially a cooperation with wireless companies that would allow them to offload heavy video traffic for delivery to mobile devices via terrestrial television transmission. I believe that concept may have originated at a German university. Has it gained any traction in Europe?
Yes, the proposal originated at the University of Braunschweig, basically coming from Professor Ulrich Reimers, (former) chairman of the technical module of DVB, and this proposal basically goes to a type of cooperation between a high-tower, high-power network, which is typically a broadcast scenario, in combination with a low-tower, low-power network, which is a cellular network. The special relevance of the proposal is for mobile reception because it is relatively difficult to achieve good coverage for mobile reception with a broadcast network.
But the combination, the broadcast network along with the cellular network, could bring advantages to both sides.
So, the idea makes a lot of sense from a technical point of view, but for the time being I have not seen many concrete steps in the direction of implementing this idea in Europe.