The Estonian public broadcaster ETV and the country’s national transmission company Levira have signed a MoU to start a pilot HD transmission of ETV’s first channel over Levira’s DTT network. It will begin next month in Tallinn and Valgjärve in the south of Estonia, with subscribers, most of who already own HD-enabled set-top boxes, also being offered two other, though as yet unnamed, HD channels. Levira, which is 49% owned by France’s TDF, launched its DTT service jointly with Starman, Estonia’s leading cable operator, in December 2006. Employing MPEG-4 compression, it currently distributes 20 SD channels on two multiplexes to over 80% of the population. This will rise to over 30 FTA and pay-TV channels, reaching 95% of the population, following the introduction of a third multiplex this August.
HD is fast gaining ground on Europe’s terrestrial platforms. Following tests in the UK last year, Sweden now has a permanent HD service in parts of the country, and there are definitive plans for HD over DTT in Norway and France.