Last week, Simon Fell, Director of Technology and Innovation at the EBU, attended the ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Symposium brings together broadcast professionals from more than 40 countries to take stock of the latest technological developments and to discuss key topics of importance such as spectrum, digital radio, OTT, HbbTV and IP production. Mr Fell was invited to participate and speak in a number of sessions throughout the week.

Worldwide DTT deployment status – DigiTAG

As part of a DVB Workshop on DVB-T2: Technologies and Implementations, Mr Fell – in his role as President of DigiTAG – addressed an audience of 100 engineers and TV staff from the region to brief them on recent developments from Europe in DVB-T2. He highlighted the DigiTAG report “A bright future for TV” which lays out a high-level roadmap for the availability of DTT technology in Europe through to 2030.
UHF spectrum is vital for securing access to universal audiences across the various countries in the region as digitisation continues to move forward. As we approach the ITU deadline for digitisation on 17 June 2015 (for UHF) and 17 June 2020 (for VHF in 33 countries) it was interesting to compare notes between the European approach and that taken in the Asia Pacific region. The emphasis of some of the more recent rollouts is aimed at indoor and portable reception. 

New technical innovation in DAB+ continued

In a workshop sponsored by World DMB, Mr Fell described the rollout of Digital Radio in Europe and introduced the EBU Digital Radio Toolkit. He reminded audiences of the EBU campaign backed by WBU members for ‘SmartRadio’ which aims to encourage mobile handset manufacturers to fit or enable receiver chips for radio in their handsets allowing radio to reach even larger audiences on a device that most people have with them at all times.  Participants were especially interested in the work shown on Visual Radio by the EBU Technology & Innovation team in association with Euroradio.  The successful trial held FIS at the Vail Championships where exciting skiing images and up-to-the-minute results and standings were distributed to radio.  

Industry debate – Is spectrum essential for broadcasting? 

In the lead up to the ITU’s World Radio Conference (WRC-15) in November 2015, spectrum remains a hot topic worldwide. Mr Fell contributed to the debate by reporting on recent progress in Europe. He noted that it was good to see that administrations in Europe have taken heed of the developing positions of broadcasters throughout Region 1 following on from the findings of Pascal Lamy’s report on the outcomes of the High Level group in 2014.
Essentially the report highlighted that broadcasters should be compensated for relinquishing spectrum in 700MHz and having to re-locate channels below 700MHz as a result of the re-allocation in Europe due after the WRC-15 meeting and recommended that the desire for coordination in Europe with changes to 700Mhz to occur not earlier than 2022, but with some regions able to change earlier dependent on local circumstances. The importance of stability in UHF spectrum below 700MHz remaining with broadcasting as the primary use until at least 2030 is key to the debate. This allows certainty in the future development of the platform and encourages future investment. In 2015, the RSPG and CEPT have made similar commitments in their positions to be adopted at the WRC-15 later in 2015.
It was encouraging to hear that regional broadcasters in the ABU are adopting a unified position supporting No Change in the 470-694 MHz band.

Integrated broadband broadcast systems

In addition to highlighting the Visual Radio project mentioned earlier, Mr Fell spoke about a project EBU Technology & Innovation is working on called Project Logo in association with Radio DNS.  The project is set up to allow a radio station to manage the database of logo graphics, streaming URLs, station descriptions, genres etc. on an open database. The EBU is hosting this with its Members. Regional broadcasters in the ABU are keen to adopt this technology and offer the same opportunity to their radio stations.  

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