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back to article London could get HD Freeview next year

Freeview viewers in London and other major metropolitan areas could get high-definition TV next year under spectrum juggling plans being considered by regulators. The BBC has applied to Ofcom to temporarily use so-called "programme making and special events" frequencies for high definition broadcasts until the national switch …

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Not unless they go very fast...

So they've got to actually finalise the standard (not due until April 2009), setup a dvb-t2 broadcasting facility, design and produce chipsets actually capable of decoding dvb-t2 for set top boxes to use *and* sell sufficient number of these boxes to end users to make the whole thing viable... all within a year?

It'll be fun to watch them try...

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Anonymous Coward

Plug in cards?

Any chance the mysterious yet ubiquitous card slot could make this work on existing freeview boxes?

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Alert

re: Plug-in card?

Nice idea, but I doubt the card slot's connection speed would support HD bandwidths!

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Jon
Boffin

Re: Plug in cards?

No.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "the mysterious yet ubiquitous card slot" - you either mean the credit-card-size smartcard slot some boxes have, or the CI slot (the same physical size and connection as the PCMCIA expansion slots on older laptops). (CI slots are mandatory on TVs that have the digital receiver built in - it's a European rule). But neither of those slots will help.

Freeview HD will use the DVB-T2 transmission format, which is an improved version of the DVB-T we use for current Freeview. By analogy, when upgrading from 100Mbps Ethernet to 1Gbps Ethernet you're going to have to change your network card - adding other cards or software elsewhere isn't going to magically make your 100Mbps Ethernet card run at 1Gbps. It's the same when upgrading to DVB-T2 - you're going to have to replace your Freeview box (which has the DVB-T chip soldered to the main board).

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re: Plug in cards?

No chance. Needs a new tuner I believe, so new hardware entirely. Plus you need a box with HDMI.

Still, it's better than being a SetPal owner and find this year that Freeview have rendered your box a brick with a software update and tell you to buy a new box! (affected some 250,000 customers).

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Unhappy

I wonder if I'll be able to get an on-air update for my TV's integrated decoder?

Or will the change from DVB-T to DVB-T2 be too much for a firmware upgrade?

What is the point of using a standard that nobody has a tuner for?

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New box ?!?

Havin' a laugh, people are barely up to spending twenty quid on a normal freeview box !

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Anonymous Coward

re: Plug in cards?

Well, there was always a shot that it was broadly an encoding thing and that maybe if they'd stuffed an HD channel onto one multiplex that it'd not be that different to an encrypted channel..

I predict that given the number of quite new TV's unable to receive this without yet another

box, and the fact that it's not really worth bothering with anyway that it'll flop. Quite badly.

(It was the CI slot I was thinking of;

Ubiquitous - It's on every telly with built in digital,

Mysterious - What's it for?)

Could you not stuff the DVB-T2 tuner/decoder into a box that connects to the CI slot so

an aerial connection to that as well giving the extra channels?

(I have no idea of the pin-outs, or even what the slot was intended for, or even if it

actually gets connected to anything in the TV)

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About &%*% time !

Its about damn time.

Lets see when did HDTV take off in America -- Circa 2001 (very popular by 2002)

Uk gets HDTV circa 2006 with 0 content.

And now possibilty of freeview in 2009 a whopping 8 years after the yanks and dont give me any twoddle about not enough bandwidth.. there is. The US has many more free over-the-air channels than we do (admittedly they are mostly full of crap) and a great deal of HD channels.

In the UK we have ... BBC HD ! wow.

Oh and if you have sky then you can actually watch some content in HD!

Too little, too late.

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Bronze badge

DVB-T2 is already a standard

The DVB-T2 specs are already available - and there are already prototype chipsets; the first kit was shown working in Amsterdam in September (and very good it looked too; impressive picture quality, with three channels on the demo mux).

So it's quite likely that there will indeed be kit available for the launch of the service around this time next year. That said, real volume production and hence cheaper prices is more likely in 2010.

The CI slot can't help out, because it's in the middle of the chain inside your TV - and the new signal won't even be decipherable by the tuner, let alone the rest of your TV or box.

There are transcoding MPEG4 SD -> MPEG2 SD modules, and even an HD module, from Neotion, but they still won't help with the DVB-T/T2 problem - and DVB-T2 is giving as much as a 50% increase in capacity, so it would be silly not to use it.

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Genius!

The region with the greatest number of people will be the last to benefit from HD

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Anonymous Coward

@New box ?!?

I dunno, I think you might sell a few new boxes if it meant getting to see the World Cup in HD without taking out a Sky sub!

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Anonymous Coward

done and done, got to love FPGA for long term usability and keeping oyur kit upto date.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/09/how_to_build_a_dvbt2_modulator.html

"...

Imagine for a moment that it's January 2008 and that DVB (The Digital Video Broadcasting Project) is currently drafting a specification called DVB-T2 for the next generation of digital terrestrial television transmission (DTT) systems.

....

So... back to that day in January 2008.

......

Remember it's January 2008 and at this point we have... nothing.

....

On the day that the specification was approved by DVB (26 June 2008), we issued a press release to tell the world that we had begun the world's first experimental DVB-T2 transmissions.

....

"

http://www.dvb.org/technology/dvbt2/a114.cm0831r1.CRs_DVB-T2.pdf

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?s=aa1a55bd8c8ae60d668b4501352fea0b&p=6711180#post6711180

"Sneals2000 said: 09-25-2008, 06:07 AM

The BBC are currently running the first proper live tests of DVB-T2 from a real transmitter (using BBC designed modulators and demodulators) in Guildford.

It is carrying 3x11Mbs H264 1080/50i HD video streams (using a new Thomson encoder - and delivering higher quality video than the 16.5Mbs BBC HD on DSat...) in a 36Mbs DVB-T2 mux (32k carriers and 256QAM rather than 2k/8k carriers and 16/64QAM as used by DVB-T)

No production silicon exists for DVB-T2 receivers yet - but the Beeb / Ofcom are hoping that manufacturers will have chipsets available in time for the launch when Granada has DSO in late 2009, which is also when other DSO regions will switch from the 6xDVB-T to 5xDVB-T 1xDVB-T2 model... (Mux B - the second BBC Mux - becomes PSB Mux 3 and switches from DVB-T to DVB-T2, and carries 3 HD streams - one from the BBC and two from ITV/C4/Five - TBA I think who gets the licenses for that)

(At the same time Muxes 1 - and possibly C and D - should switch to 8k 64QAM 24Mbs from 2k 16QAM 18Mbs, and Mux 2 and A should switch from 2k 64QAM 24Mbs to 8k 64QAM 24Mbs - rendering a lot of early receivers obsolete in those regions...)

"

http://www.connectedtv.eu/ci-provides-enhanced-common-interface-connecting-up-idtvs-to-new-applications-158/

"....

It is also possible to squeeze functionality such as HDTV decoding into CAMs, and could also provide one solution for upgrading Freeview-standard IDTVs from the existing DVB-T standard to DVB-T2 (see our previous post on Ofcom’s plans for DVB-T2). IDTVs are now outstripping sales of set-top boxes in the UK, and either CI or CI+ could provide one of the tools required to address what is already being dubbed a ‘second switchover’.

And what of ‘CI Version Two’? Well, Ocean Blue’s CEO Ken Helps tells me, the intention is to hand the CI+ spec over to the DVB, and to ask them to adopt it in its place. So, CIV2 and C+ could become one and the same thing….

"

YEAH, finally some real end users STBs kit might get a fully long term upgradeable FPGA chip abble to be in home flashed to fix and problems instead of binning it and buying new kit.

FPGA chipsets rule EVERY SINGLE OEM should be usingthem Today in ALL the UK STB/TV abd related kit instead of the slightly cheaper and far more limited fixed DSPs your Virgin media and sky and mostly all the freeview kit has used to date.

http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2008/09/10/3643664.htm

"IBC World Congress: ENENSYS, NXP Semiconductors (News - Alert) and Pace plc are proud to present tomorrow's enhanced terrestrial TV by showcasing the first end-to-end DVB-T2 demonstration of this brand new standard.

At this year's IBC in Amsterdam, ENENSYS will demonstrate for the first time an end-to-end DVB-T2 chain including a modulator and a demodulator, thanks to a strong partnership with NXP Semiconductors and Pace.

ENENSYS is proud to showcase its FPGA-based modulator natively designed to handle any kind of standard (already available in DVB-T, DVB-H and DTMB). This powerful platform has been reused to embed the DVB-T2 modulation core. The prototype show-cased on DVB booth at IBC is the first working step in the DVB-T2 modulator development, presenting a live on-air end-to-end solution. This new ENENSYS product will allow transmitter manufacturer, chipset manufacturers and R&D teams to perform live signal broadcast, factory tests and measurements, demonstrations or roadshows.

...

"

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Boffin

just use a DVB-T USB2 card in your PC and be happy

just use a DBA/linuxTV compatable DVB-T USB2 stick/card in your fast PC with the CoreAVC AVC/H.264 codec decoder and VLC running and be happy, as you can then see and use DVB-T2 fine it seems, just as the DVB-S HD is decoded fine,its only software after all thats decodeing the stransport stream(s).....in this case.

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Anonymous Coward

FPGA's good for your codecs

"@New box ?!?

By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 22nd October 2008 17:12 GMT

I dunno, I think you might sell a few new boxes if it meant getting to see the World Cup in HD without taking out a Sky sub!

"

sur ebut they better make sure all the prototype boards that the vendors just clone and use have JAVA, at least 2 1gig RJ45 ethernets and LAN streaming internal server html pages so you can take your LAN video and stream it to and from that STB, a fully working E-sata and USB2 port with also be a very good thing to complete the new base standard for the long term 3rd party sevices that could then spring up as you make good use of your ISP broadband return path for the DVB-*2 standard.

get the base ethernet and steaming hardware mandated to include all you might need later and be happy consumers and companies alike as you dont need to replace your 2 year old kit yet again.

use an FPGA as standard too, and no more worrys about your firmware not bing able to decode that latest and greatest codec addition (lossless AVC etc) to the standard for the good of everyone, not least all your reprogramable on the fly FPGA vendors, and all your newer FPGA capable kit later as the mass markets help bring down the costs, yet keep the codec specs current for far longer with a simple software update.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice to see HD being put to a good use

those sponsor logos on the shirts of the players and the sides of the pitch will look extra crispy. Bravo!

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Boffin

DSP's are bad for your STBs but good for the profits

"Freeview HD will use the DVB-T2 transmission format, which is an improved version of the DVB-T we use for current Freeview. By analogy, when upgrading from 100Mbps Ethernet to 1Gbps Ethernet you're going to have to change your network card - adding other cards or software elsewhere isn't going to magically make your 100Mbps Ethernet card run at 1Gbps. It's the same when upgrading to DVB-T2 - you're going to have to replace your Freeview box (which has the DVB-T chip soldered to the main board).

hmm not quite, in effect the change form DVB-T to DVB-T2 is a software change the stransport stream is the same they just squeeze mor into it at the software level.

the reason your generic STB box cant decode it but yoyr PC DVB-T stick can is simply the fact the vendors did not use a slightly more cost FPGA chip that you could then firmware ugrade to the ne standard adn ad in your new AVC/H.264 codec to decode it ,simple cost cutting by your STB vindor is the reason your now forced to upgrade your old STB boxs nothing more, should have used FPGA chips instead of cheaper fixed DSPs that dont and can t take the AVC codecs etc.

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Unhappy

Firmware update for PCI cards?

I chose to go the way of a Media Center with a PCI DVB card, firmware updates could keep it current and avoid having to buy a separate set-top box. This did happen with Nebula's excellent card for both HD and H.264, but now it seems they've closed down their old company to focus on media streaming, so it seems I'll have to go shopping for a new one.... by 2010...

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Anonymous Coward

its not the tuner ,its the video codec

" wonder if I'll be able to get an on-air update for my TV's integrated decoder?

By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 22nd October 2008 15:01 GMT

Or will the change from DVB-T to DVB-T2 be too much for a firmware upgrade?

What is the point of using a standard that nobody has a tuner for?

"

its not the tuner, its the old Mpeg2 only codec, and the firmware cant usually be upgraded to include the new AVC codec unless yours has that FPGA as above ;)

the PC should be fine though it seems if its powerfull enough to decode DVB-S* HD already.

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Anonymous Coward

why dont all Uk HD tvs all have a PC-E slot as standard today!

its crazy situation to be in ,why dont all Uk HD tvs all have at least a single PC-E slot as standard today!

then you could plug in any card you like that any PC world vendor would make to help new markets and services grow for everyones benefits.....

but then it seems the Tv vendors cant even include a generic VGA connector so you might connect your PCs HD crds to their tvs so a generic PC-E to interface any and all the worlds TVs to any new tech you might like to use on their screens

isnt going to happpen any time soon unless someone forces them to do it ,thats a shame.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Plug in cards?

A plug in module is a theoretical possibility but:

1) The CI module would need to include the tuner and DVB-T2 demodulator and the aerial would have to be plugged into the module not the normal TV socket.

2) Special software would be needed in the TV to control the tuner in the module so that channel change, scanning etc. worked and use the module as an input even though the TV's own tuner would have no signal.

3) The TV would have to support MPEG4 decoding.

Because of these reasons I don't think such a product will come to market.

Due to continental markets there are MPEG4 TV's already on the market although it is not generally promoted in the UK. Most of Sony's range is in this condition.

Concerns about the data rate probably are unfounded. Even normal DVB-T can provide data rates as high as is planned for DVB-T2 but only by using much less robust modes. Such rates and higher are also common on cable.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Plug in cards?

>1) The aerial would have to be plugged into the module _as well as_ the normal TV socket.

So your TV works normally except for whatever comes via the card, presumably

it could at least work like an aux slot?

If the HD channels will be transmitted on an existing re-tasked multiplex then

the radio gear can receive it, it's a question of whether the raw data out from

the receiver goes to the card or not.

>2) Special software would be needed in the TV to control the tuner in the

module If the card can provide a signal as if it's an alternative input then the

channels would be limited, but you could use the same controller.

>an input even though the TV's own tuner would have no signal.

Yes it would, you'd just split the aerial.

>3) The TV would have to support MPEG4 decoding.

Couldn't that be in the card as well?

My PC provides the TV with HD resolution video it doesn't MP4 encode it though.

Anyone know what the slot was intended for?

- Does it get the full video connection?

- Can it affect channel listings?

- Does it get the raw data from the receiver?

If you get a yes for all those then it can do it. I suspect it was intended for

encrypted services in which case it might well able to.

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PlayTV

Sounds great, although wouldn't the PlayTV on the SP3 support it via a firmware upgrade? (I'm pretty sure its meant to be HD ready?)

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Flame

BBCs future TV licence excuse

The BBC has applied to Ofcom to temporarily use so-called "programme making and special events" frequencies for high definition broadcasts until the national switch off of analogue transmitters is complete in 2012 ... The new channels, reported here, will occupy multiplex B, a data stream operated by the BBC.

The BBC only want future excuses to justify TV licences. Tell them to fuck off

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Just point your aerials up your antipodes

I don't know the technical specifics of the implementation, but here in NZ we've been enjoying Freeview HD (both terrestrial and satellite) for a while now. The Olympics looked awesome as does Outrageous Fortune (not to mention the fair amount of imported TV shows that now broadcast in HD - NCIS, CSI, Boston Legal, etc etc).

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