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DVB ponders next-gen terrestrial DTV standard

Posted by iMark - 2006-03-04

DUBLIN — The Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) group has launched a "study mission" on the next-generation terrestrial digital television standard, dubbed "DVB-T2," according to Ulrich Reimers, chair of DVB Technical Module at this week's DVB Forum.

Separately, the DVB group is also close to completing another study mission on "Satellite Services to Portable devices," he added.

The group's first meeting on DVB-T2, run by BBC, was held last week. In updating the ten-year old terrestrial digital video broadcast standard, called DVB-T, widely used in Europe and elsewhere, the group is seeking ways to deliver higher data rates on terrestrial digital TV transmission, while adding more robustness and flexibility to the transport network.

Different parties, however, seem to have different visions for DVB-T2.

One approach within the group is to focus DVB-T2 on delivering digital TV to power-hungry mobile devices or on moving vehicles such as subways, trains and buses. Others hope to see DVB-T2 as a vehicle to deliver terrestrial high-definition TV to spectrums that will become vacant after the shutoff of analog TV broadcasts.

Reimers made it clear that by a "study mission," in DVB lingo, "We are looking at options, but not taking decisions."

Theo Peek, chair of the DVB Project, predicted that the study DVB-T2 mission is likely to conclude this fall. The results of such a study mission first must go to the DVB Steering Board for approval. It is then handed over to the DVB Commercial Module to develop commercial requirements and later on to the DVB Technical Module to sort out technical requirements for the new standard.

In contrast, the group's discussion on "Satellite Services to Portable devices (SSP)" appears more straightforward. "Just as terrestrial broadcasters have a DVB-H standard for delivering digital TV to mobile handsets, satellite operators also want their own standard to address the portable market," explained Reimers.

But could SSP end up competing against DVB-H?

On the contrary, said Reimers, SSP could be a complement to DVB-H. "This could be an answer to the unresolved issue of DVB-H," he said.

Currently, the DVB-H network works well within urban areas. But extending the coverage range beyond cities could be costly for mobile TV network operators, he explained.

Further, for satellite operators, DVB-H could serve as a virtual network of terrestrial repeaters, said Reimers. The satellite-based Digital Mobile Broadcast (S-DMB) mobile TV network, implemented in Korea, for example, faces the need for more terrestrial repeaters on the ground for their services. With SSP, satellite operators may find a symbiotic relationship with DVB-H network operators.

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