Web Letter

November 2011

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.

To subscribe to the DigiTAG Web Letter, send an email to the DigiTAG Project Office.

DVB-T2-Lite: a new option for mobile broadcasting


Last July, the DVB Steering Board approved a new specification profile targeted at mobile broadcast services. Known as DVB-T2-Lite, this new specification brings together a subset of the very efficient existing DVB terrestrial television standard DVB-T2 with some extensions specifically aimed at addressing receivers that are incorporated in portable or handheld devices.

Already, the specification has attracted much attention. It has been tested by the BBC and showcased successfully on the DVB stand at IBC 2011. However, questions remain regarding the commercial prospects for any mobile broadcasting standard given the limited success of similar standards in the past.

DVB-T2-Lite technology

The DVB-T2 standard is a highly flexible system that allows network planners to select the appropriate modes to use based on the needs of their terrestrial broadcast network. Because many of the features of DVB-T2 allow it to be suitable for mobile and handheld usage, it was possible to develop a new specification, DVB-T2-Lite, from a selection of its features.

DVB-T2-Lite is based on the same core technologies as the DVB-T2 standard but uses only a limited number of available modes that are best suited for mobile reception. By avoiding modes that require more complexity and larger amounts of storage memory, receivers can be designed that are less power consuming and with a smaller silicon size.

Features of the DVB-T2-Lite specification include:

- A maximum bitrate of 4 Mbits/sec for each service

- Limitations on the FFT size to exclude the 1K and 32K carrier modes

- Prohibition of the use of rotated constellations in 256-QAM

- Possibility for only short FEC frames (Nldpc = 16200)

- Limitation of the size of the time interleaver memory (approximately half the size of normal DVB-T2).

As a result of these requirements, the silicon chip size in a DVB-T2-Lite demodulator is 50% smaller than that in a DVB-T2 demodulator and considerable power savings are possible. In addition, two new LDPC error control code rates, 1/3 and 2/5, have been added to the DVB-T2-Lite profile that were not in the normal DVB-T2 standard to offer additional robustness necessary with mobile reception.

Services using the DVB-T2-Lite profile can be transmitted within the same radio frequency channel as normal DVB-T2 services. Mixing of parameter sets for different parts of the signal had already been possible because of the Physical Layer Pipes (PLPs) feature of the DVB-T2 standard, but it is now possible to make use of a different FFT size and guard interval. The DVB-T2-Lite profile makes use of the Future Extension Frame (FEF) feature of the DVB-T2 standard.

FEFs had been incorporated into the DVB-T2 standard to allow for the inclusion of future improvements in modulation technology. They allow the signal to transmit something other than normal DVB-T2 for certain periods of time. The DVB-T2-Lite signal that is constructed as a FEF of the DVB-T2 signal is ignored by the normal DVB-T2 receiver while the normal part of the DVB-T2 signal that is time multiplexed in another FEF is ignored by the DVB-T2-Lite receiver.

During the live, over-the-air transmission of DVB-T2 and DVB-T2-Lite signals from a single multiplex, the following technical parameters were used:

This allowed for reception of the one of each of the two streams as appropriate onto an HDTV receiver and a small screen handheld receiver.

Commercial prospects for DVB-T2-Lite

DVB-T2-Lite allows service providers to offer broadcast television services to mobile and portable devices. Should video consumption on mobile devices continue to increase at its current rate, the use of a broadcast network can help to reduce congestion on mobile broadband networks. However, much of its success will depend on the business model adopted, consumer demand and the availability of receivers, and the regulatory regime put in place.

In the past several mobile broadcast standards have been developed. Few, however, have been able to successfully secure a foothold in the market and have instead created market lassitude. Apart from Asia where free-to-air mobile television services are available, service launches in Europe and North America have yet to succeed. In the United States, Qualcomm launched a paid service using its MediaFLO standard but shut it down in late 2010 due to a lack of subscribers. In Europe, several countries launched paid mobile television services using the T-DMB standard and/or the DVB-H standard but many of the services have since been closed due to a lack of subscribers.

The question remains how DVB-T2-Lite can succeed when other standards enabling similar services have failed. Three key differentiators should be noted. First, the demand for mobile video content is likely to increase, especially given the emergence of the market for tablet computers, although it is not clear that a broadcast standard is necessary to provide such content. Second, it is expected that all DVB-T2 chipsets will support DVB-T2-Lite. This means that DVB-T2-Lite chipsets will be widely available, at a low price, and large numbers of receivers will be in the market, albeit mostly fixed receivers. Finally, DVB-T2-Lite only requires a small initial investment since it can be combined into an existing DVB-T2 network. Unlike other standards, it would not be necessary, at least initially, to build a separate network, and this may encourage service operates to launch services gradually based on the demand of the local market.

Next steps

The DVB-T2-Lite profile is available in the annex of the draft DVB-T2 specification version 1.3.1. Following its approval by the DVB Steering Board, DVB-T2-Lite is now following the ETSI standardisation process which is expected to be completed in April 2012. Already, receivers are expected to enter the market in 2012/2013. The next generation of DVB-T2 receivers are expected to include the DVB-T2-Lite profile which means that a sizeable receiver population could exist in a short period of time. This will subsequently encourage service providers to address these receivers.

The DVB-T2 standard is currently in the process of roll-out in many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. the gradual increase in the availability of DVB-T2-Lite services and receivers, could ensure future flexibility to incorporate mobile services in such markets at the appropriate time.


Source: Natalie Mouyal, on behalf of the DigiTAG Project Office

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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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Spain - Government agrees digital migration plan

In its last cabinet meeting, the Socialist government approved the frequency plan for the period between July 2012 and 31 December 2014.

This plan puts in place the migration of those DTT services that currently make use of the frequencies from 790-862 MHz to frequencies below 790 MHz. The frequencies from 790-862 MHz have been allocated for the provision of mobile broadband services.

Source: advanced-television.com

Slovakia - Two applicants for DTT license

The communications regulator Slovak Telecommunications Office (TU SR) announced that it has received two applicants for its tender to operate the fourth DTT multiplex.

Applications were received from Telecom Corp and the broadcast network operator Towercom.

Source: TU SR website

Italy - Over 2 million pay-DTT subscribers

The commercial broadcaster Mediaset published its financial results for the nine month period ending 30 September.

As can be expected, profits and revenue are down in comparison with the same period last year. However, its pay-DTT service, Mediaset Premium, continues to increase its revenues despite the overall market slowdown.

Source: Mediaset press release

Australia - Terrestrial viewers at all-time high

According to the industry group Free TV Australia, 14.3 million people watch terrestrial television services each day. This figure represents a 7 year high.

The increase in terrestrial viewers has been more pronounced in rural areas which increased its audience share by 13%. In urban areas, the number of terrestrial viewers increased by 5%.

Source: Rapid TV News

France - 5% tax on DTT license re-sale

The Senate has approved an amendment that would apply a tax of up to 5% to the sale of DTT frequency licenses. The tax would only apply to those DTT licenses obtained from the broadcast regulator, CSA, at no charge.

With this amendment, the Senate seeks curb speculation on DTT license holders, or at least benefit from it. Most recently, the media group Canal+ acquired 60% of Direct 8 and Direct Star, both on the DTT platform, from the media group Bolloré for €279 millions. Bolloré had acquired Direct Star for €70 million in 2010 and Direct 8 free-of-charge from the CSA.

Source: L'Express

United Kingdom - ASO completed in East Anglia

Analogue switch-off has been completed in Norfolk and north Suffolk with the switch-off of the analogue channels BBC 1, ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

The process began on 9 November with the switch-off of the analogue channel BBC 2. Following this switch-off, the coverage of DTT services was expanded to reach 96% of the population in the region of East Anglia, up from 57%.

Source: Digital UK website

Hungary - 850,000 DTT viewers

According to information published by the DTT platform operator Antenna Hungaria, 850,000 households own at least one DTT receiver.

The free-to-air DTT platform, MinDig TV, is used by 300,000 households for their primary television services while the pay-DTT platform, MinDig TV Extra, has more than 42,000 subscribers.

Source: Antenna Hungaria website

France - DVB-T2 trial in Rennes

The CSA has authorised the broadcast network operator TDF to begin a trial of the DVB-T2 standard in the northwestern city of Rennes.

The DVB-T2 trial will take place on channel 43 from two transmission sites. The trial will last for a 6 month period beginning on 20 October 2011.

Source: CSA website