DigiTAG report: 8K Ultra HD services by 2023 but spectrum scarcity crisis looms

A report compiled for DigiTAG suggests UHDTV of up to 8K could be in place on Europe’s DTT platforms by 2023 – but warns that DTT is currently jeopardised by the scarcity of radio-frequency spectrum. The report, Roadmap for the Evolution of DTT, co-authored by DigiTAG (Digital Television Action Group) and Analysys Mason, is designed as a ‘roadmap for the future of DTT’ technologies in main European markets’.

Based on technology profiles and country types the report predicts that consumer demand will see a transition to new standards taking between three and 12 years. Early adopter markets are likely to take between three and six years to move from present transmission capabilities through to a combination of DVB-T2, MPEG4/HEVC, SDTV/HDTV/UHDTV (4k). A third profile, taking in HDTV/UHDTV (4k/8k) is expected to occur between 2023 and 2030.

The report says ‘nearly all countries in Europe have migrated their terrestrial television platform from analogue to digital technology. Viewer satisfaction with the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform is high with 43% of households using it to access their primary television services.

‘Yet despite the completion of digital switchover, DTT continues to evolve. Analysis of European markets today shows a developed DTT ecosystem with strong adoption of DTT technology. Nine countries have been analysed in this report, including the four largest economies in Europe.

‘The majority of European countries have completed their digital switch over (DSO) with DVB-T as the main broadcast transmission standard,’ according to the report. ‘Markets around Europe are now migrating or planning their migration to DVB-T2. Markets where DSO has not yet taken place or which have little DVB-T penetration are moving to DVB-T2 in the first instance.

‘DTT content is today mainly SD with an increasing number of channels available in HD,’ it says. ‘MPEG-2 is the predominant encoding standard although many countries have established MPEG-4 ecosystems with the majority of new consumer equipment MPEG-4 compatible. HbbTV services for hybrid TV sets.

‘DTT will remain the pre-eminent television viewing platform in Europe for the foreseeable future,’ says the report. ‘It provides viewers with significant benefits including universal coverage and free-to air services. Linear television continues to grow while nonlinear and ancillary screens complement traditional viewing. DTT platform development is underway but will require the ongoing support of governments, industry stakeholders and viewers.’

However, the report notes that ‘the DTT platform is currently jeopardised by the scarcity of radio-frequency spectrum. The re-allocation of the 700 MHz band will reduce the total spectrum available for DTT by an average of 30%. Yet, to remain competitive and sustain the adoption of new technologies, the DTT platform will require continued access to sufficient spectrum especially during migration periods. A clear spectrum allocation is necessary to provide security and stability, promote innovation, and assure long-term investments for industry stakeholders and viewers.’


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