Latest Letters

:: September 2014

Research results of DVB-T2 and DVB-T2 Lite trial

A recent paper has been published by the RAI Research and Technology Innovation Centre (RAI CRIT) about its trial of transmitting high-definition (HD) and mobile television services from a single multiplex on the DTT platform. This paper, written by Gino Alberico and his team at RAI CRIT, received the award for best conference paper at IBC 2014.

:: August 2014

Digital switchover in Africa

Across Africa, governments are planning for digital switchover.†National governments are now preparing to meet the June 2015 deadline set for the completion of analogue switch-off in the ITUís Geneva 2006 (GE-06) Agreement. And while many governments are confirming their intention to complete switch-off by this deadline, many countries are likely to have difficulty doing so.

:: July 2014

Road to the World Radiocommunications
Conference 2015

From 2 - 27 November 2015, national administrations representing 193 countries will gather in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC). This conference, held once every four years, takes place under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Its objective is to update the Radio Regulations, the international treaty which governs the use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.

:: June 2014

The 700 MHz band in Europe

The initial results of studies by national regulators in Europe addressing the use of the UHF band are becoming available. At the international level, national regulators have already agreed to allocate the 700 MHz band to mobile broadband services on a co-primary basis alongside broadcasting after 2015. Now, national administrations must decide whether they would like to change the use of this band from broadcasting to mobile broadband.

:: May 2014

The cost of re-allocating the 700 MHz band

Deciding which services will make use of the 700 MHz band is a heavily debated topic across Europe. Traditionally reserved for broadcast services, national administrations are currently considering to change the use of the band to mobile broadband services. This follows the decision made at the last World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) in 2012 to allow for the introduction of mobile broadband services in the 700 MHz band, alongside broadcasting, after its next meeting in 2015.

:: April 2014

Broadcasters bring Aereo to Court

The future of the cloud-based television service Aereo will be determined by the United States Supreme Court. Last week, the Court heard arguments from lawyers representing broadcasters who claimed that Aereo violates copyright law. Lawyers representing Aereo vigorously defended the service, claiming that it leases innovative technology that allows viewers to access content which is available free-of-charge on the DTT platform.

:: March 2014

Evaluating spectrum requirements for mobile telecom services

A key topic for discussion at the next World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) in November 2015 will be the allocation of spectrum to mobile telecom operators. Under the agenda item 1.1, national administrations will consider additional spectrum allocations to mobile telecom services on a primary basis as well as identify additional frequency bands that could also be used by such services. In preparation, the ITU Working Party 5D has carried out studies to determine the spectrum requirements for mobile telecom services.

:: February 2014

DTT in Ireland: the prospects for a commercial DTT platform in small television martkets

In early January, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) issued a statement indicating that it would not proceed with the licensing of a commercial DTT platform. This followed the recommendations of a study that the BAI had commissioned on the potential for a commercial DTT platform in the country. The study, undertaken by Oliver & Ohlbaum in the summer of 2013, provided an analysis of the current market conditions as well as three potential business models for a commercial DTT platform.

:: December 2013

The DTT auction in Thailand

On 26 to 27 December, the first auctions for licenses to provide commercial television services on the DTT platform took place in Thailand. These auctions generated much interest with 29 media groups vying for the 24 available licenses with 41 service proposals. Revenue generated by the auctions exceeded expectations with THB 50.65 billion (€1.12 billion) raised compared with the minimum price of THB 15 billion (€350 million) set by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) which organized the auctions.

:: November 2013

Regulatory activities in the allocation of the 700 MHz band

The digital television (DTT) platform remains the most important means for viewers to access television services in Europe. According to recent data from Eurobarometer (Report 396, August 2013), the terrestrial platform is used by 46% of television households. The content offering on the DTT platform is vast with 456 free-to-air national or international channels, 529 pay channels and over 1,000 regional and local channels available across European Union member states (European Audiovisual Observatory, Yearbook 2012).

:: October 2013

Results of the LTE@800 MHz trial in France

On 2 April 2013, a large-scale trial of mobile telecom (LTE) services operating in the 800 MHz band began in the region of St Etienne in France. It is the largest LTE trial in the 800 MHz band operating in France and the only one which includes the participation from the  three telecom operators with LTE licenses in this frequency band - SFR, Bouygues, and Orange.

:: September 2013

Status of DTT in Germany

In mid-September, the public service broadcasters ARD and ZDF created a stir when they announced plans to transition their DTT platform to the second generation DVB-T2 standard. Services using the DVB-T2 standard will launch in 2017 with the transition to be completed by 2020.

:: August 2013

Digital Terrestrial Television: the most popular television delivery in Europe

According to the latest Eurobarometer report on communications, the DTT platform is the most popular way for households to access their television services in Europe. A total of 40% of European households use the DTT platform followed by satellite, used in 23% of homes, and cable, used in 19% of homes. When including analogue households, the Eurobarometer figures show that terrestrial television is used by 46% of all households. And while viewers continue to affirm their commitment to the terrestrial television platform, policy makers are debating  measures that would reduce the amount of frequency capacity available to the DTT platform.

:: July 2013

Digital switchover in Turkey

Preparations for digital switchover are underway in Turkey. Most recently, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) which regulates the broadcast market, awarded 33 television service licenses for the national DTT platform as well as 242 television service licenses for the regional and local DTT platforms. Licenses were allocated via an auction which generated TRY  872 million (€380 million) from 265 broadcasters and surpassed the minimum prices set by the RTUK. This is an encouraging sign for the DTT market which has been hampered by delays and a decline in the number of viewers using the terrestrial television platform.

:: June 2013

Introducing 4G services in the 800 MHZ band in the
United Kingdom

Last February, the communications regulator Ofcom announced that the telecom operators Everything Everywhere (EE), Telefonica UK, Three and Vodafone had acquired licenses to operate 4G services in the 800 MHz band. These licenses were awarded as a result of the spectrum auction for licenses in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands that generated £2.3 billion in revenue. Services are now set to launch this summer.

:: May 2013

The 700 MHz band allocation in Europe

In a widely circulated news article, the French business newspaper Les Echos reported that the President had unilaterally agreed to allocate the 700 MHz frequency band to mobile telecom services. If this news report is correct, it could have consequences on the allocation of the 700 MHz throughout Europe. Currently, other countries such as the United Kingdom and Italy are considering a similar allocation while European level institutions have begun to consult on the issue.

:: April 2013

Regional projects to foster digital switchover:
the case of SEE Digi.TV

While national administrations are responsible for the management of digital switchover, the outcome impacts neighboring countries. The availability of frequencies, and their potential re-assignment for non-broadcast services, can provide opportunities for a full region. It is for this reason that many regional organizations such as the European Union (EU), Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made recommendations regarding the process for completing digital switchover.

:: March 2013

Launching DVB-T2 in Europe

Last week, the broadcast network operator in Austria, ORS, announced plans to launch a pay television platform using the DVB-T2 standard.  By doing so, it hopes to make the DTT platform more competitive by significantly increasing the content offer. Known as SimpliTV, the new platform will offer viewers up to 40 television programme services, some of which will be available in high-definition. The launch is set for 15 April.

:: February 2013

Using pay television to instigate digital switchover: The situation in Albania and FYR Macedonia

Many countries have successfully launched their DTT platforms with an extensive offer of free-to-air content. Notable examples include the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic. In other countries, pay-DTT platforms have been the dominant business model, offering extensive services that can successfully complete with multichannel satellite, IPTV, and cable operators. These platforms often operate alongside a rather limited free-to-air offering as is the case in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands.

:: January 2013

How to ensure a successful digital switchover:
DigiTAG issues new Guide

• New DigiTAG Guide on digital switchover explores key regulatory, business and technical issues that need to be addressed.
• The regulatory regime adopted will impact DTT roll-out and business models adopted.
• Consumer profile and habits will influence the type of services offered on the DTT platform.
• The analogue switch-off strategy will depend on such factors as the number of terrestrial television households, coverage and penetration of the DTT platform and international and regional obligations.
• National administrations must consider their long-term strategy for UHF spectrum allocation to ensure continued investments on the DTT platform.

:: December 2012

Renewing support for DTT challenges ahead -
DigiTAG re-launches as worldwide organization

The digital terrestrial TV (DTT) platform has been an overwhelming success. Today, over 50% of European households rely on the terrestrial platform for their primary television services. And many more households use the DTT platform for secondary television reception.

:: November 2012

Using Spectrum 'White Spaces' in Europe

The United States has long been a pioneer in the use of the ‘white spaces’ between broadcasts by users of unlicensed transmitter devices. Back in November 2008, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed to allow the introduction of unlicensed transmitter devices in white spaces and, in 2011, approved several white space databases and devices. However, since then, enthusiasm for white space usage in the US has been damped by discussions on the spectrum incentive auctions which may impact the amount of white space spectrum available in the UHF band.

:: October 2012

Digital Switchover in Ireland

At 10 am on 24 October, a live news broadcast on the public broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann’s channel RTÉ 1, heralded the end of analogue terrestrial television. With a single switch, the television personality Miriam O'Callaghan, alongside the Minister for Communications Mr. Pat Rabbitte T.D., turned off the analogue signal for RTÉ, TV3 and TG4 throughout the entire country.

:: September 2012

Growing Competition in the free-to-air DTT market in France

On 18 September, Canal+ obtained final regulatory approval for its acquisition of the television programme services Direct 8 and Direct Star from the Bolloré Group. This completed a process which began one year ago and which has caused much alarm within a broadcast industry fearful of the leading pay operator in France, Canal+, and its plans to enter the free-to-air DTT market. Broadcasters have been vociferous in their opposition and have clearly articulated their reservations on the possible ramifications of this entry.

:: August 2012

New Zealand prepares for Analogue Switch-Off

New Zealand is well advanced in its digital switchover. On 30 September, the regions of West Coast in the South Island and Hawke's Bay in the North Island are set to become the first areas in the country to complete the process. Depending on where they live, viewers will need to switch to either digital terrestrial or satellite reception. And already, 90% of viewers in Hawke's Bay and 92% of viewers in the West Coast have converted to digital television.

:: July 2012

Italy completes analogue switch-off

Italy has become the most recent country to complete the switch-off of its analogue terrestrial television services. On 4 July, the last analogue services were switched off in Palermo and Messina in Sicily. This ends a process which began in 2008 on the island of Sardinia and has resulted in the switch-off of 10 national analogue channels and 550 local channels at 24,200 transmission sites.

:: June 2012

Migrating broadcast services out of the 800 MHz band
in Spain

A little over a week ago, the Spanish government presented its proposals for clearing broadcast services out of the so-called ‘800 MHz frequency band’. These frequencies, from 790-862 MHz at the top end of the UHF broadcasting Band V, have been licensed to telecom mobile operators and are expected to be made available to them from January 2014.

:: May 2012

The Expansion of DVB-T2 in Europe

The benefits of the DVB-T2 standard are unquestionable. Compared with the first-generation DVB-T standard, DVB-T2 provides significantly increased capacity, and robustness gains, allowing for the launch of broadcast services that make the most intensive use of increasingly limited frequency resources. According to the DVB Project, DVB-T2 has already been deployed in 11 countries and adopted in a further 55 countries around the world.

:: April 2012

Developing a single global DTT standard

At the recent NAB conference, representatives from 13 broadcast organisations from around the world signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Future of Broadcast Television (FOBTV) initiative. This initiative builds upon the joint declaration made in Shanghai in November 2011 calling for collaboration towards the development of a global DTT standard.

:: March 2012

The beginning of the end of terrestrial television in Europe?

National administrations attending the recent World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-12) last month surprised many when they agreed to make frequencies in the 700 MHz band available for mobile telecom services in Africa, Europe and parts of Asia as of 2015. Many expected that such discussions would take place at the next WRC in 2015. Instead, following a proposal from national administrations in Africa and parts of Asia, mobile telecom services will be given co-primary status alongside broadcasting in the frequencies from 694 - 790 MHz after the WRC 2015.

:: February 2012

WRC-12: allocating terrestrial frequencies to mobile services

From 23 January until 17 February, representatives from 165 national administrations attended the World Radiocommunications Conference 2012 (WRC-12) in Geneva under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This conference aimed to review and update the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.

:: January 2012

Licensing local DTT services in the UK

Proponents of the DTT platform have often noted the platform’s unique advantage in providing local television programme services efficiently in terms of cost and spectrum usage compared with other television delivery platforms. For many broadcasters, the DTT platform is the only viable option for the delivery of their regional and/or local content.

:: December 2011

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.

:: November 2011

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.

:: October 2011

Digital Switchover progress in Portugal

The economic woes in Portugal have not spared its broadcast industry. As part of its bailout plan, the government has proposed the privatization of one channel belonging to the public service broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP). And with the economy expected to contract by 1.9% in 2011 and 2.8% in 2012, many of the pay television operators and broadcasters expect a decline in revenue. Yet, despite this economic situation, analogue switch-off is progressing without difficulty.

:: September 2011

Planning for the future of DTT in France

The DTT platform in France has generated much attention in the past month. Most notably, the head of the CSA, Michel Boyon, issued his recommendations to the Prime Minister on the future of the DTT platform calling for the introduction of DVB-T2. In addition, the pay broadcaster Canal+ announced its plans to enter the free-to-air DTT market. And early reports about the release of the European Commission’s formal opinion on the attribution of the so-called bonus channels on the DTT platform indicate opposition from the European Commission.

:: July 2011

Propects for mobile television services

The Mobile500 Alliance [1] is planning to make mobile television services available to 90% of households in the United States this autumn. Already, an independent joint venture of national broadcasters Fox, NBC Universal and several top TV station groups, known as the Mobile Content Venture, plan on rolling out their mobile television services to 50% of the population by the end of the year. The Open Mobile Video Coalition's technical advisory group, supported by both Mobile500 Alliance and the Mobile Content Venture, is said to be making progress on a baseline set of specifications for mobile DTV receivers.

:: June 2011

DTT in France

Debate rages whether to expand the number of free-to-air channels on the DTT platform in France. Polls have been published to support both sides of the debate with one survey [1] showing that 69% of French television viewers are satisfied with the current number of television channels and another survey [2] showing that 87% of viewers would like more channels on the DTT platform.

:: April 2011

The spectrum debate in the United States

"Why should people in Kentucky have their local stations' signal potentially degraded….so urbanites in Manhattan can have a faster download of the app telling them where the nearest spa is located?" - Gordon Smith, NAB State of the Industry address.
At the NAB Show in Las Vegas earlier in the month, plans for spectrum auctions were a topic of intense debate. Two representatives from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defended their proposal for incentive based auctions to allocate frequencies currently used by broadcasters to wireless broadband providers.

:: March 2011

Harmonising radio-frequencies in Europe

On 28 February, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament discussed the European Commission’s proposal for the establishment of a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP). This proposal, presented in September 2010, defines the policy program for the strategic planning and harmonization of the use of spectrum in Europe until 2015. The discussion in the ITRE Committee was based on a draft report prepared by Swedish MEP Gunnar Hökmark.

:: February 2011

3DTV on the DTT platform

Interest in 3DTV is strong. Appealing animated content in cinemas has attracted the attention of viewers, most evident by the popularity of the 3D movie Avatar. The number of 3D films available on Blu-ray discs continues to increase. And already, several broadcasters have begun producing and transmitting 3D content while others have expressed an interest in doing so for certain events, such as the next Olympic Games in 2012.

:: January 2011

Digital switchover in Croatia

Digital switchover was completed in Croatia at the end of 2010. On 5 October 2010, all high-power analogue transmissions were switched off followed by the switch off of low-power analogue transmissions. Despite the availability of three DTT multiplexes, the government has taken steps to ensure that the DTT platform continues to develop and offer viewers access to quality services.