Several sets of DVB-related standards have been approved that will help accelerate the adoption of Ultra High Definition (Ultra HD, aka 4K), and promote multi-screen video usage.

DVB is used most extensively in markets outside North America, but progress in other markets is likely to help move the entire Ultra HD market forward. The next step for the specifications is approval by ETSI as formal standards.

First up, the DVB Steering Board has approved the DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification, which includes an HEVC Profile for DVB broadcasting services that draws, from the options available with HEVC, those that will match the requirements for delivery of UHDTV Phase 1 and other formats.

The specification updates ETSI TS 101 154 (Specification for the use of Video and Audio Coding in Broadcasting Applications based on the MPEG-2 Transport Stream).  

The new DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 supports Ultra HD at 1080p, at frame rates of up to 60 frames per second, and at 10 bits.

From the wide range of options defined in the HEVC Main 10 profile, Level 5.1 is specified for UHD content for resolutions up to 2160p. For HD content, HEVC Main profile level 4.1 is specified for supporting resolutions up to 1080p.

The DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification takes into account the possibility that UHDTV Phase 2 may use higher frame rates in a compatible way, which will add further to the image quality of UHDTV Phase 1.  

“HEVC is the most recently developed compression technology and, among other uses, it is the key that will unlock UHDTV broadcasting,” said DVB Steering Board Chairman, Phil Laven. “This new DVB–UHDTV Phase 1 specification not only opens the door to the age of UHDTV delivery but also potentially sets the stage for Phase 2, the next level of UHDTV quality, which will be considered in upcoming DVB work,” he continued.

Also approved at the most recent DVB Steering Board meeting was the specification for Companion Screens and Streams, Part 2: Content Identification and Media Synchronization.

Many second-screen devices (tablets, smart phones) require synchronization between the Broadcast Service at the TV Device and the Timed Content presented at the Companion Device. The Companion Screen specification focuses on the identification and synchronization of a Broadcast Service on a TV Device (Connected TV or STB and screen) and Timed Content on a Companion Screen Application running on a Companion Device.

Part 2 outlines the enabling factors for the identification of, and synchronization with, broadcast content, timed content and trigger events on TV devices (for example a Connected TV or STB) and related content presented by an application running on a personal device.

The other specification to gain approval from the Steering Board was the MPEG-DASH Profile for Transport of ISO BMFF Based DVB Services over IP Based Networks. This specification defines the delivery of TV content via HTTP adaptive streaming, the organization said.

Transmission of audiovisual content is based on the ISOBMFF file specification. Video and audio codecs from the DVB toolbox that are technically appropriate with MPEG-DASH have been selected. Conditional Access is based on MPEG Common Encryption and delivery of subtitles will be XML based. The DVB Profile of MPEG-DASH reduces the number of options and also the complexity for implementers. The new specification will facilitate implementation and usage of MPEG-DASH in a DVB environment.

The three new specifications will now be sent to ETSI for formal standardization.

Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) is an industry-led consortium of over 200 broadcasters, manufacturers, network operators, software developers, regulators and others from around the world committed to designing open interoperable technical standards for the global delivery of digital media and broadcast services.

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