France’s DGMIC consultation on future of DTT – details
As promised, here are the highlights of the French media and culture industry (DGMIC)’s consultation on the future of the French DTT platform, following the decision to allocate the 700MHz band to the mobile sector.
There is heavy emphasis on the development of new compression and transmission technologies in the consultation, perhaps because the DGMIC wants to make the point that loss of spectrum could be compensated for by more efficient distribution of TV broadcasts (France is still, post analogue switchover, committed to using DVB-T for the time being). Even if that is so, the bigger question lurking in the consultation is probably whether – even with uptake of second-generation norms such as DVB-T2 and HEVC – UHDTV could still be squeezed in, and if so, how and when.
The consultation is split into six over-arching topics: the evolution of the DTT platform; video compression technologies; the launch and commercialisation of new compression and transmission technologies; how DTT receiver technologies will change; the impact on DTT of loss of spectrum; and TV distribution modes.
On the first topic, the DGMIC asks whether it would be feasible to launch a UHDTV multiplex as a showcase for the technology, and if so when.
On the second topic, at issue is the fact that the French DTT platform currently uses DVB-T with a mixture of SD services in MPEG-2 and HD ones in MPEG-4 (the French never associated HD with DVB-T2 – as the UK has done, for example). The DGMIC wants to know when the industry thinks a wholesale switch to MPEG-4 will be possible, asking if respondents have access to any forecasts about the rate at which the installed base of MPEG-2 receivers is being phased out.
UHDTV is raised again in the third topic, on compression and transmission technologies, when the DGMIC asks whether it would be a good idea to synchronise the launch of DVB-T2 with HEVC, and if so how soon could this take place. In addition, the DGMIC asks whether phasing out MPEG-2 (to replace it with universal DVB-T/MPEG-4 transmissions) should happen at the same time as a DVB-T2/HEVC multiplex is launched (this harks back to earlier recommendations made by the CSA).
On the fourth topic, receiver developments, the DGMIC asks how long it will take for France’s installed base of STBs and IDTVs to become compatible with DVB-T2 and HEVC, and how long it will take TV displays to become capable of using such technologies to display UHDTV.
On the fifth topic, spectrum, the DGMIC asks how loss of frequencies will impact existing DTT services and – interestingly – wonders whether the use of Band III (VHF) for DTT would be possible.
Finally, the last topic, on distribution, simply asks about the complementarity of different TV distribution platforms, with respect to coverage and ability to address different consumer consumption modes, whether fixed or portable/mobile, on different types of screens.