Julian Clover reports from DVB World in Rome.
There was something entirely circular about the DVB World discussion in Rome this week, where at the moment when delegates were discussing the likelihood of broadband encroaching further on TV spectrum, no one in the room could get online. This was a Take That concert ticket moment.
“Not even I have access to the internet,” declared Professor Ulrich Reimers, the father of DVB and the head of the Technical Module, who is to step down from the role at its 100th meeting, to be replaced by the BBC’s Nick Wells.
Last month’s WRC conference saw the beginnings of a debate that could have far reaching consequences for broadcast and broadband alike. At issue are the future needs for wireless broadband and a possible further encroachment into the 700 MHz band.
Not only are broadcasters facing potential interference to their programmes from next generation LTE services, but they may also have to give up a further portion of the band to the telcos whose devices look likely to cause the trouble.
Greg Bensberg, director of spectrum policy at Ofcom, helped find capacity for HD services on Freeview. Today he is involved in a new exercise in spectrum clearance. Bensberg explained to delegates that while looking after the public service broadcasters was a requirement, so too were the “citizen consumers”, who would be using the new devices.
The WRC discussions came as a surprise to many, not least the German car manufacturer BMW. Dr Bertram Hock explained that the BMW owner wanted the very best and this included television for all the passengers, this was particularly true in China, regardless of whether anyone actually watched what was going out.
Such sudden decisions do nothing for the 14 to 18 years of sustainability for BMW, whose sophisticated aerial system involves implanting the antenna in the rear windscreen, so as to ensure that nothing protrudes to spoil the shape of the car.
Customers expect features to run for the lifetime of the vehicle, standards like DVB-T and DVB-T2 cannot be upgraded by software, and swapping out an antenna is expensive if not impossible. Hock said that customers bought functions, not standards. The Digital Dividend came about without sufficient warning and the necessary high order low pass filters for vehicles are neither available nor producible at a reasonable cost.
If not to the satisfaction of motor manufacturers, Reimers had a plan. Work by the Technical University of Braunschweig was developing “Dynamic Broadcasting”.
With increasing availability of PVRs with 1 Terabyte worth of storage and the majority of shows pre-recorded, could the two be married together.
Under Dynamic Broadcast capacity is freed on the broadcast channels and thus gives broadcasters the chance to distribute additional virtual channels.
In his last speech as head of the technical module, Professor Reimers said with the development of DVB-S2, DVB-T2 and DVB-C2 we may have climbed the peak of the Static Broadcast mountain – in the DVB world.
There are of course other mountains to climb.