DVB World 2013: Preparing for a New SATCOM Standard and No more Fighting in the Living Room

Thursday 28 March 2013
DVB World 2013: Preparing for a New SATCOM Standard and No more Fighting in the Living Room


Picture source: DVB World

by Fernando Andreu, Koen Willems

The annual DVB (or Digital Video Broadcast) Worldwide Conference (March 11-13) brought 180 professionals in telecommunications to Madrid to discuss new standards in video compression, satellite communications and terrestrial communications. For sure, during the 3-day event the main buzzwords were Second Screen, HVEC, S2 Extensions and 4k UHDTV, but what else was going on?

Happy 20th Birthday

This year celebrations are in place as the DVB Project Office looks back to 20 successful years pushing digital standards into the market place. The DVB standards are now used all over the world with over 70% market share in digital television.

In spite of the fact that today satellite and cable standards are set by industry, terrestrial standards are often set by ‘political decisions’. There is political pressure in some countries not to adopt DVB-T2 often based on non-factual information. This is important due to the fact that the fastest growing segment of DVB is digital terrestrial television using the DVB-T/T2 technologies.

A New Standard to Meet Growing Bandwidth Requirements over Satellite

From the technology point of view, the hot topics were the enhancement of the DVB-S2 standard, the Ultra HD 4K and the new HEVC compression coding. The technologies bring customer expectations and the request for higher efficiency over satellite nicely together. The end-user gets better quality pictures and the service provider and broadcaster get better OPEX, or can put more services/channels within the same transponder.

Of course the new DVB standard for satcom (now temporarily called S2 Extensions) is not only reserved for broadcasting. The entire satellite communication industry benefits as efficiency gains go from 7% in lower rate applications up to 37% in 32/64APSK modulation modus.

During the DVB World event, leading satellite operators such as SES and Hispasat presented their findings and conclusions concerning the new satcom standard. S2 Extensions are ready to be adopted by the satellite market. They felt that efficiency gains of more than 20% need to be in place in advance of deployment of UHDTV. To back their conclusions they used the findings from the Newtec S2 Extensions Survey. In the survey 700 satellite professionals from 400 companies worldwide were polled to gauge the temperature on S2 Extensions.

The following five conclusions were made:

  • 98% of the respondents regard standards as (very) important.
  • One out of two respondents will use S2 Extensions within 1 year.
  • 62% of the respondents will use S2 Extensions if it at least offers 15% to 20% efficiency gain.
  • 40% of the respondents will increase their throughput in the same bandwidth.
  • Half of respondents think that the efficiency race will continue as long as satellite exists.
No more Fighting in the Living Room

From the business point of view, the hot topic was the Second Screen, penetration of broadband and the fact that in 2012 the number of IP devices at home (tablets, smart-phones, etc) surpassed the number of TV sets. This is leading to a scenario where the current premium linear video services delivered by satellite and cable are now competing with non-linear "unmanaged video services" delivered by Internet, aka OTT services. Members of the same household can watch different content on different carriers. The father can be a couch potato and watch his favorite soccer team on TV, whilst his wife checks a recorded lifestyle program and children can sing along to the latest Disney movie on the iPad. Statistics on how many marriages OTT will save are still to be released.

The point now is how these two services are going to co-exist:

  • Are these two services complementary or not?
  • Is the growth of the on-demand IP services causing a decrease in the audience of traditional linear TV channels?
  • Can they be integrated in what is called Hybrid broadband TV (HbbTV)?
  • Is the broadband infrastructure ready to deliver the massive increase of traffic generated by video?
  • How to monetize those new OTT services?
Our Conclusion

The truth is that a lot interesting analyses to these questions were presented: Rtve, Sky, ZDF, but for now there is not a clear path ahead.

The adaptation of OTT services will probably follow a “long tail” scenario in relation to cost and ROI considerations: the large audiences will be served by broadcasting high quality images.

Unicast services to portable devices on the other hand will have varying bitrates adapted to the network conditions and the capabilities of the portable device in order to be cost efficient and will reach smaller audiences.

The most efficient approach would be a mix of broadcast and OTT depending on audience size.



by Fernando and Koen 

Fernando Andreu, Regional Sales Director;
Koen Willems, Strategic Marketing Director