Danish world premiere of next generation mobile TV standard DVB-T2 Lite

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

As one of the first in Europe, Open Channel started trials of the next generation Digital Terrestrial TV standard – DVB-T2 in 2010. Open Channel again leads the way as the first in the world to air the next generation of mobile TV, based on the new standard DVB-T2 Lite profile. The service is now on air on UHF channel 39 in Copenhagen.

“We received so much interest in our T2 Lite trials when we announced it at the broadcast fair IBC in Amsterdam in September last year,” says Open Channel’s CEO, Kenneth Wenzel. We are pleased with the interest shown by a large number of companies providing equipment and expertise for the trial, such as Danish firm ProTelevision Technologies, Spanish BTESA, Norwegian T-VIPS and the Dutch company DekTec.

Open Channel last year obtained a T2 Lite trial license from the Radio-TV Board, for UHF channel 39 (also called MUXKBH-2) in the Copenhagen metropolitan area, starting on January 1st 2012 for a period of up to three years. Broadcast with vertical polarization, 2 kWatt ERP at a height of 100 meters from the TDC radio tower at Borups Alle in the center of Copenhagen, the signal can be received by more than 700,000 households.

Tablets will open new opportunities

The background for the Open Channels trial is that DVB-H was never the success that many thought and hoped for. “One of the problems is that a DTT operator had to pay for the installation and operation of an independent broadcasting system that could only be utilized for mobile TV. In reality it meant more expense than income. Furthermore, there was no demand to see broadcast TV on a tiny cell phone screen – and certainly not if you had to pay for it. In other words, no business case, “says Kenneth Wenzel.

Now, with the increasing popularity of iPads and other tablets, the demand for linear TV viewing on smaller screens has arrived.

When people watch TV on a tablet today, it primarily happens through home Wi-Fi or outdoors via a Wi-Fi hotspot or 3G networks.

The challenge with the new tablets is that they have a screen size of 720p or 2048×1536 with the new iPad, so they easily need a bandwidth of 2 Mbit/s. With the growing numbers of tablets in use, the bandwidth necessary for unicast mobile TV can be a challenge for mobile operators – especially during major sporting events. Here, DVB-T2 Lite provides an efficient new platform for broadcasting mobile TV.

Double capacity

DVB-T2 and particularly the T2 Lite profile, enable a reduction in the memory and power consumption requirement for receiver devices. It is now possible to build a mobile T2 broadcast network with the same capacity as DVB-T approx. 20-25 Mbit/s and twice the capacity compared to a DVB-H mux.

stationary reception
  DVB-T        20-22 Mbit/s
  DVB-T2       37-40 Mbit/s
mobile reception
  DVB-H        10-13 Mbit/s
  DVB-T2 Lite  20-25 Mbit/s

This means that network operators can send the same broadcasting signals to both the television in the home and to handheld devices like iPads, so the DTT operator no longer needs to build a separate broadcasting set up for mobile TV only.

Since we have already experienced delays in the deployment of mobile services using DVB-H, it might be worthwhile to revisit the alternatives and deploy the more efficient DVB-T2 Lite profile instead. We have already witnessed the successful adoption of DVB-T2 Lite for mobile services in Finland and we intend to demonstrate that this is the best solutions for Denmark too. Open Channel will test the new features in DVB-T2 e.g. MISO (Multiple-Input Single Output) and Multiple Physical Layer Pipes (multi PLP) which allow separate adjustment of the robustness of each delivered service within a channel to meet the required reception conditions (e.g. in-door or roof-top antenna). It also allows transmissions to be tailored such that a receiver can save power by decoding only a single service – where DVB-T2 Lite profile has set an upper limit for each PLP’s at 4 Mbit/s – rather than the whole multiplex of services at i.e. 37-40 Mbit/s.

Open Channel plans to broadcast a total of 16 PLP’s, each with its own digital radio or television channel during the trials.

Strong Partnership

Open Channel collaborates with Danish ProTelevision Technologies, which develops and manufactures professional OEM transmission equipment to markets across the world.

ProTelevision is pleased that experiments and tests of their modulators are made in their own “backyard”. This gives ProTelevision the opportunity to develop and test their software before it gets sent out to customers worldwide. “There have been a number of technical issues, such as high-power usage at the receiving device, that have seriously hampered the uptake of mobile radio and video services. The IBC demo last year and the Open Channel trial in Denmark will show that these technical issues are now solved and I look forward to playing a major part in DVB-T2 Lite’s exciting future” said Morten Simonsen, CEO, ProTelevision.

The Norwegian company T-VIPS has supplied a key component of the system – the DVB-T2 Gateway. “I’m very excited to drive forward the new DVB-T2-Lite profile” says Janne T. Morstøl, COO at T-VIPS. “For the operator it is important to know that DVB-T2 Lite is a subset of the DVB-T2 standard, which means that flexible DVB-T2 solutions as T-VIPS’ CP560 DVB-T2 Gateway and ProTelevisions’ DVB-T2 modulator can be upgraded for the deployment of DVB-T2 Lite. This minimizes the cost of introducing new mobile TV services.

“The Spanish company BTESA, who has supplied the medium power air-cooled transmitter, which just in 7U height can supply 500Wrms after output filter, “look forward to the successful conclusion of the Open Channel trial and expect that DVB-T2 Lite services will become an important part of terrestrial operators’ efforts to ensure greater customer engagement, retain and win customers and launch new revenue generating services” said Juan Lluch Ladrón De Guevara, R&D Design Engineer, BTESA.

At present, there are no DVB-T2 integrated televisions or set-top boxes available in the Danish market that support the T2 Lite profile signaling because manufacturer still uses Sony Semiconductors 1st generation DVB-T2 Demodulator IC CDX2820 from January 2010 instead of Sony’s 2nd generation CDX2834 / 2836 or e.g. Broadcom BCM3461 T2 demodulator chip.

Open Channel will therefore use DekTec T2Expert DVB-T2 receiver until the new DVB-T2 / T2 Lite receiver appears on the market. Open Channel expects this will happen in Q3 2012.

DVB-T2 Lite – the future standard of digital radio

DVB-T2 Lite is not only suitable for mobile TV. It is also highly suitable as the future standard of digital radio in place of DAB & DAB+ from, respectively 1995 & 2007. With the DVB-T2 / T2 Lite profile you get 2.7 to 3.7 Mbit/s capacity (~ 40 / ~ 55 HE AACv2 radio stations) compared to the DAB / DAB+ 1.1 Mbit/s capacity (~ 6 mpeg1 layer II / ~ 16 HE AACv2 radio stations) with the same propagation model. Open Channel last year also acquired a license for a digital radio trial of DVB-T2 on a so-called T-DAB frequency VHF channel 9D with a channel bandwidth of 1.7 MHz, also known MUXKBH-3, and have plans to go live later this month with 15-20 international digital radio stations – and later this year this will increase to 50 digital radio stations with separate PLP’s for each station.