Pace Unveils DVB-T2 Freeview HD Box at IBC 09

Friday, September 11th, 2009
Pace plc logo

Next generation set-top box to deliver HD channels to terrestrial households

SALTAIRE, England — IBC 2009 — At this year’s IBC, leading developer of digital TV technologies Pace plc (LSE:PIC), will unveil its next generation set-top box based on the DVB-T2 transmission standard. The Pace set-top box, expected to be one of the industry’s first to market for Freeview HD, will be available through retail distribution enabling UK viewers to take advantage of the HD experience made possible by the DVB-T2 standard as part of a nation-wide enhancement to the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform.

By optimising bandwidth in the network, DVB-T2 allows broadcasters and service providers to bring HD content to the home terrestrially for the first time. Pace has worked closely with UK free-to-air digital TV service provider Freeview and UK broadcasters, including the BBC, to develop the new set-top box and to ensure that it complies fully with the DVB-T2 standard. Set for market launch in the first half of 2010, Freeview hopes to achieve up to 50% HD coverage across the UK by the time the World Cup begins in June next year, well ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Commenting on the new DVB-T2 box, Mathias Hautefort, President of Pace France said; “The launch of DVB-T2 represents an important transition for DTT broadcasting in the UK and a hugely exciting step forward for digital consumers. Through our partnership with Freeview we are bringing a next-generation set-top box to market that will be a key component in unlocking the power of Freeview HD in the home.”

The technology evolution that DVB-T2 brings in the form of HD channels creates the climate for a box that has broad market relevance. Pace expects to launch its Freeview DVB-T2 set-top box in the first half of 2010, but it can be deployed in any country that opts to use the standard to deliver DTT HDTV services.

“With HD Ready TV penetration at around 12 million homes already in UK and with growing consumer expectations from TV generally, we fully expect that DVB-T2 will help drive widespread HD adoption,” continued Hautefort.

Ilse Howling, Managing Director of Freeview said: “As the UK’s biggest and fastest growing TV platform, we are on a mission to upgrade Britain to HD and beyond. We’re delighted that Pace will be on board to deliver one of the first Freeview HD products to market next year.”

Pace plans to follow its first DVB-T2 product with a Freeview+ HD digital TV recorder version, providing digital terrestrial television viewers with even more freedom over the content they watch.

Pace first demonstrated its DVB-T2 set-top box technology at last year’s IBC. The demonstration unit on show at IBC 2009, 11th-15th September in Amsterdam, will be receiving a live T2 terrestrial broadcast feed via Holland’s KPN as evidence of the product’s successful development. For more information, please visit Pace’s IBC stand B19 in Hall 1.

About Freeview HD

Freeview HD will give viewers access to subscription-free high definition channels from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and S4C in Wales in addition to more than 50 Freeview channels in standard definition. Capacity has also been provisionally reserved for Five to launch its proposed HD channel from late 2010.

Some early transmissions of Freeview HD have been agreed in London from December this year and in other major cities (Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford and Newcastle) ahead of the World Cup in June 2010.

The final UK roll-out schedule – which would make Freeview HD available to up to 50% of homes by the World Cup next year and to around 98.5% of households by the end of switchover – is currently being finalised. The technical upgrade schedule (other than the five early upgrades) is expected to follow the digital switchover process, starting with Granada in December 2009 and concluding in 2012.