Several world leading TV organisations have bonded the Future of Broadcast Television (FoBTV) initiative to attempt to bring about a unified next-generation broadcast television system.
FoBTV’s founder members include Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), Digital Video Broadcast Project (DVB), European Broadcast Union (EBU), Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), Globo TV Network, IEEE Broadcast Technology Society, NAB, China’s National Engineering Research Center of Digital TV, NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories of Japan, Public Broadcasting Service of the US and the Brazilian Society of Television Engineering (SET).
All agree that terrestrial broadcasting is the most spectrum-efficient means for wireless delivery of popular real-time and file-based content. The goal is to produce common requirements for a new terrestrial broadcast standard, firstly applicable to mobile devices and accommodating Ultra HDTV and the HEVC coding scheme.
“TV standards in the analogue world were split between NTSC, SEACAM and PAL while the opportunity to unite global broadcasting under digital transmission 20 years ago came and went as country by country transition proceeded at different rates,” explained DVB Chairman and FoBTV Vice Chair, Phil Laven. “The result is that multiple standards have cost billions, in any currency, both for consumers and the industry. TV set manufacturers, for example, are faced with the dilemma of what interactive features to include for individual countries.
“Some have argued that this doesn’t matter because a TV set remains in situ once it is bought, but we are now moving into a completely different environment where people will watch TV not just on large screen sets but on tablets and smartphones. Would it not be great if you had a tablet that gave you live or off-air broadcast TV anywhere in the world?
“That’s not because we think broadcast TV is the only thing people will watch on tablets, but because we know that broadcasting is infinitely scalable. Millions of people can watch the same soccer match from the same transmitter at the same time. Try achieving that over the internet and it will fail. Try doing that with 3G and 4G phone systems and they will run out of capacity. The reality is that you can’t achieve one-to-many broadcasts of information or entertainment to millions, globally, with one-to -one technology. That’s why we think broadcasting has a significant future.”
FoBTV members have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, established management and technical committees and are open to the participation of any interested party. It does not intend to take the place of standards development bodies but build consensus around the technologies necessary for a next generation standard. These include modulation, error correction and encoding.
Common ground for emission systems may include defining a core set of tools for the physical layer and defining the interface for real-time and file-based applications in the transport and management layer. Common ground for receivers may include defining a baseline receiver profile for fixed, handheld, portable and mobile applications. Common ground for system operation may include pursuing low power consumption, low cost and environmentally-friendly technology and industrial development models.
A first task is to devise a set of user requirements which FoBTV hopes to present at IBC2012. Laven will lead a free introductory session as part of the IBC Conference laying out the project’s concept and roadmap. The ambition is to present a framework to standards bodies by end of 2013 and to have a workable standard for delivery of broadcast TV to mobile devices in place by 2015.
“This is a really important opportunity to take advantage of a seachange in global communication,” said Laven. “It won’t be easy. In fact it will be incredibly difficult, but if we attain the goal is will be worth the effort. A technical standard wasn’t absolutely necessary before. It is now. We hope that we can all grow up, stop fighting each other and look at this with an open mind and a long term view to deliver what we all know is needed.”
For more look to the IBC Conference and the free to attend session ‘Industry Insights: FoBTV’ on Tuesday 11 September at 10:00 in the Forum.