Tag Archives: dvb

IBC 2011 – DVB hopeful ‘T2-Lite’ will do better than DVB-H

Europe’s digital TV standards body, DVB, has formally unveiled its new ‘T2 Lite’ profile, designed to provide a subset of the full DVB-T2 specification which is optimised for mobiles and handheld devices.

DVB is hoping it will succeed where the first-generation mobile broadcast standard DVB-H failed, in part because – in the words of chairman Phil Laven – “mobile operators are going to have a serious problem of congestion on their networks” if video consumption on mobile devices continues to increase at current rates.

But Laven also pointed out that the new stripped-down, rugged profile allows the technology to be easily tested in the marketplace, because it can be integrated into a DVB-T2 multiplex without the need to build a dedicated network. This potentially makes its use more cost-effective than DVB-H.

BBC R&D experiments have shown that using a DVB-T2 multiplex normally carrying 40.2MBit/s (as in the UK Freeview HD profile), a T2 Lite channel could be squeezed into a 1.02MBit/s stream, with the DVB-T2 channels taking up the remaining 33.6MBit/s (the loss of 5-6 MBit/s is explained by the extra capacity devoted to making T2 Lite more robust).

Peter Siebert, DVB’s project director, promised that “very soon, all [DVB-] T2 chipsets will support T2 Lite.”

‘T2-Lite’: a new candidate for mobile broadcasting

European digital TV standards body DVB has introduced a new, slimmed-down profile as part of the latest version of its next-generation DVB-T2 standard, targeting ‘low-capacity’ applications such as mobile broadcasting.
Known as ‘T2-Lite’, the new profile avoids processing- and memory-heavy modes, allowing more efficient receiver designs to be used – e.g. for a DVB-T2 tuner in a smartphone or tablet.
T2-Lite is limited to a maximum bit-rate of 4MBit/s, whereas the full HD-centric profile can run up to 48MBit/s (in the UK, DVB-T2 uses around 40MBit/s for DTT HD – see here.)
DVB says that “One possible use for T2-Lite enables the simulcasting of two different versions of the same service, with different bit-rates and levels of protection, which would allow better reception in fringe areas.”
According to a post on the BBC’s R&D blog, the BBC has been testing T2-Lite since July 7. In the trial, an HD signal for fixed reception and a T2-Lite version are combined within a single multiplex, with the T2-Lite frames placed in the gaps between the HD ones.
The concept that a single DVB signal could contain different versions of a broadcast which could be extracted by different receivers with different capabilities was proposed by the ‘god-father’ of DVB, Prof Ulrich Reimers, when DVB was originally set up, but has yet to prove popular in practice.
The BBC solution will be demonstrated at the forthcoming IBC exhibition in Amsterdam.

New pay-TV card-sharing scam uncovered in Cyprus

A rare example of a so-called ‘card-sharing’ pay-TV piracy operation has come to light following AEPOC’s announcement of a police raid in Cyprus.
On June 14th a 49-year-old Cypriot man was arrested for illegally providing subscriptions to the pay-TV offerings of BFBS, BSkyB and Nova.
The pirate is accused of having provided illegal pay-TV subscriptions to nearly 1,400 clients in Cyprus and across Europe – earning at least €100,000 over an eight-month period, according to some estimates.
Card-sharing exploits a weakness in the DVB conditional access system through which a legitimate smartcard is hacked to provide a stream of access codes which can be distributed for a fee to consumers unwilling to pay the full price for a pay-TV subscription.
Farncombe discussed the nature of this weakness in detail in a White Paper entitled: Towards a Replacement for the DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm.

Farncombe Consulting proposes replacement for DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm

Farncombe Consulting Group, which hosts this blog, has published a second White Paper on TV Conditional Access (CA), which proposes a possible replacement for the DVB Common Scrambling Algorithm (CSA).

This is the hardware-based digital TV encryption technology mandated under European Law and which underpins today’s DVB-based pay-TV sector.

Farncombe’s in-house video security experts think it’s overdue for a replacement, arguing that – although it was introduced for the best possible motives in the early 1990s – the technology now raises serious commercial, regulatory and technical concerns for the digital pay-TV industry.

For instance, they point out, the CSA was designed for an era when operators were keen to avoid their content being distributed to PCs, and where broadband did not exist as a distribution medium. But neither of these factors apply today. This means operators are saddled with a technology which makes content distribution more difficult, and is not only already vulnerable to piracy but poised to become increasingly so.

In the White Paper, Farncombe accordingly proposes a next-generation replacement for the CSA, based on a ‘toolkit’ approach which mixes both hardware and software elements.

This will take time to implement, however. In the meantime, operators who upgrade their installed receiver base without addressing the security flaws in the CSA approach risk wasting their investment. Farncombe notes that the nature of this weakness is such that it only takes one hacked receiver to allow control words to be fed over broadband to any legacy DVB STB and enable pay-TV content to be pirated.

This implies that the industry needs to introduce a replacement as soon as possible.

A PDF of the new White Paper can be obtained from Farncombe by clicking here (or by pasting the following URL into your browser: http://www.farncombe.eu/index.php?menu=4.4) and filling in a simple registration form. Farncombe will then personally send you a copy.

IBC Report – DVB-T2: a possible home for the DVB’s next-generation handheld standard?

Connected TV met up at IBC for the first time with Peter Siebert, who recently took over from Peter MacAvock as executive director of the DVB Project office (earning himself the nickname ‘Peter 2.0′ in the process), and was treated to the latest version of the DVB standards road-map.

One of the most interesting elements to come out of our discussion concerned the fate of what used to be known as DVB-H2 – the next-generation version of the mobile/handheld broadcast standard DVB-H.

Temporarily shelved because of an intervening effort to get the satellite/terrestrial hybrid version of DVB-H (DVB-SH) underway (its first European implementation will be on the Solaris Mobile venture (see previous post), it is now back on the books again – under the working title of DVB-NGH (for ‘Next Generation Handheld).

Asked whether DVB-T2 – which has always encompassed advanced mobile broadcast capabilities as well as high-capacity fixed HDTV ones – mightn’t itself play the role of a DVB-H substitute, Siefert conceded that “maybe [DVB-NGH] is only DVB-T2. The elements of DVB-T2 are a good candidate.”

On the face of it, this might make good sense: operators in some countries are already looking upon robust profiles of DVB-T as a potential substitute for DVB-H, simply because such implementations re-use a pre-existing transmitter network.

Equally likely, perhaps, would be DVB-T2 with ‘add-ons’ – for instance, DVB-NGH could contain DVB-T2 plus LGE (4G) elements – or, indeed, it could end up as something entirely separate from DVB-T2, Siebert said.

In any event, the next DVB Technical Module meeting is expected to give the go-ahead to a new technical group which will decide what NGH will be based on.

At that same meeting, a study group will be reporting back on current industry 3D developments (very much the theme of this year’s IBC show) with a view to a decision being reached about what DVB’s role should be in the 3D standardisation process, if any. Siebert suggested DVB come contribute elements to do with service information and transport protocols.

Siebert said there was also an ongoing discussion going on between the HBBTV backers (see previous story) and DVB as to “whether DVB should play a more active role” in the hybrid DVB standardisation space, perhaps acting as an umbrella group for various industry initiatives.

Amongst other recent developments, nine European operators, including the likes of Kabel Deutschland, Kabel Baden Wittenberg, Ono and Com Hem, have now committed themselves to the next-generation version of DVB’s cable standard, DVB-C2. Siebert commented that in Germany in particular, cable operators were running out of capacity, so they required the extra capacity DVB-C2 could offer. As an example, he pointed to the fact that Kabel Deutchsland’s RFPs now contained questions about whether set-top box manufacturers were able to support DVB-C2.

The first DVB-C2 prototypes are due to be shown at the Anga Cable show in Germany next year, and IBC 2010 would certainly feature the technology, Siebert said.