Feeds

London Olympics drives dash for terrestrial HDTV

Digital telly group sounds warning against rush job

New hybrid storage solutions

The boss of an influential television industry group has cautioned Ofcom and the BBC against rushing the rollout of high definition terrestrial TV, fearing technical blunders.

Dermot Nolan, director general of the Digital TV Group (DTG), cautiously welcomed an announcement by the pair last week that they will proceed with plans to rejig how the current channel is distributed across Freeview spectrum next year. However, he believes the tight deadline they have set could prove a pitfall.

It's known within the industry that the BBC's desire to show the 2010 World Cup in HD on terrestrial TV, and especially the 2012 Olympics, has concentrated minds at Ofcom on how to get HDTV into terrestrial homes as quickly as possible. The communications watchdog seems keenly aware of what's at stake. Chief executive Ed Richards called the plans "a once in a lifetime opportunity".

Worries DTG voiced in February over how the process will be handled have been calmed by tweaks to the process, which was finalised by Ofcom last week following a five-month consultation.

Nolan said: "It's clear that they [Ofcom] have listened to the industry."

The plan is for the BBC to vacate multiplex B so that equipment can be upgraded to handle the upcoming DVB-T2 broadcast standard, which will require Department for Culture, Media and Sport approval.

Nolan said everyone involved in the upgrade should be wary that DVB-T2 isn't even a standard on paper yet. "These things always take a lot longer than people think, especially when it comes to a new technology like this," he said. "I don't think it's likely HD will be on air before 2010 or 2011."

Still, Ofcom and the BBC want are determined to complete the major reshuffle inside 2009. The BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, will oversee the exit from multiplex B.

"It took from 1995 to 1998 for the DVB-T standard to be finalised and we've had errors before," Nolan said. "The first generation of Freeview set-top boxes didn't work very well at all."

It's expected that each of the four public service broadcasters (the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Five) will be allocated one of the four HD channels that DVB-T2 broadcasts compressed using MPEG-4 will squeeze in. It's hoped the launch of HD will not disrupt the ongoing switch-off of analogue transmitters or standard definition Freeview broadcasts.

The scheme means terrestrial viewers who want to see the Olympics in HD will have to buy new equipment, but Nolan believes there will be little resistance to another consumer technology investment. DTG is hoping a cheap CI slot module will allow them to receive DVB-T2. "People are used to buying new boxes now," he said.

DTG argues that the four channel plan should only serve as a stop-gap before a full scale terrestrial HD deployment. It says more spectrum will be needed if Freeview is to continue to compete with the multiplicity of HD services on offer from satellite and cable. The digital TV industry's past is littered with the corpses of services that had a low number of channels and were rejected by consumers, such as ONDigital and BSB. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.