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BBC possible high def plans

Discussion in 'Televisions' started by SimonMW, Jun 3, 2005.

  1. SimonMW

    SimonMW
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    Looking at the IEE Review magazine this month there is an interesting article about how the BBC has come upon a new possible approach for delivering high def programming over the current digital broadcasting network.

    Apparently the viewer will own a special hard disc unit. The BBC would trickle upload specific, probably flagship dramas etc, to the hard drive during the quiet periods of broadcasting such as overnight. The programme would then be stored on the hard drive until the BBC send a trigger signal at the official time of broadcast so that the viewer can then watch it.

    Interesting concept. As a short term measure it might be okay. Its long term viability is a bit suspect however. I suppose it all depends on how much such a hard drive digital receiver would cost, how much high def programming the BBC would plan to deliver, and whether or not they could upload it efficiently enough (and related to that whether the compression would be as terrible as current digital broadcasts!)
     
  2. NicolasB

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    Interesting idea. The cool way to do this would be to use some sort of staggeringly effective compression algorithm that requries so much CPU horsepower to decompress that you can't actually do it in real time. You could then broadcast programmes in far less time than the actual programme running time and then set them to be decompressed to (say) MPEG 4 overnight.

    But that's probably not what they had in mind.
     
  3. Nick_UK

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    Not really a new idea. I seem to recall that they did something like this in the 1980's with simple computer programmes for the BBC Model B computer. More a ruse to test the public's interest in HD, I suspect.
     
  4. Howard Pitfield

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    This was on demo at recent trade show in Olympia last month (Mediacast 2005).

    H
     
  5. Quickbeam

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    I think the hard disk idea is interesting.

    An appointed manufacturer could make what would essentially be a terrestrial version of Sky+ with the added ability to download and store programmes in non-real time, and it would also be HD Ready in that it would be able to decode live MPEG-4 HD broadcasts whenever they launch.

    That way you could use the box as a normal PVR for Freeview broadcasts, with the HD downloads being a bonus feature, and the added capability to decode real-time MPEG-4 HD broadcasts when they launch on terrestial.

    The only downside is that the box will be expensive compared with a regular Freeview PVR, and only a very small number of HD programmes are likely to be available, and there would be no live events such as football games due to current bandwidth congestion.

    Incidentally, does anyone happen to know if the specs for delivering HD over terrestrial have been completed?
     
  6. Nick_UK

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    The problem is that it wouldn't be long before "real" HD came along, and the box would quickly become obsolete. That would put off a lot of people who might put their money into the venture.

    In answer to your question - if you mean Freeview, HD tests were done a long while ago, but it's unlikely that you will see any terrestrial HD before the analogue TV stations have closed down and made some more airspace available.
     
  7. clever dicky

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    They could also put the programmes on some sort of transportable media as well as broadcast. This could be be distributed through various means and when the viewer was ready to watch, it could then be uploaded in to some sort of playback device that connects directly with a tv.

    Although drawbacks are that it could be copied, played over many times, and watched without paying an additional premium.
     
  8. Starburst

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    A simple and cost effective approach would be to limit HD broadcasts to Dsat and Cable and then when analogue has shut down switch to mpeg4 (or similar codec) and launch on DTT. Sooner or later the DTT platform will have to adopt a new compression system and the analogue switch over is as good a time as any for new services which require new hardware which of couese would be backwards compatable.

    Can't help but think that trying to deliever HD via the current DTT network is more trouble than it's worth after all you are still denying the content to huge numbers of people who are not covered by DTT even if you could find capacity and not reduce the existing services.
     
  9. Stephen Neal

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    Yep - Starburst that is what the French are doing. Their FTA DVB-T services are MPEG2 - as there is a potentially large market in Europe for FTA receivers driven by the German and UK DVB-T FTA systems.

    However the Pay-TV and HDTV services on the French DVB-T platform (TNT) are, AIUI, going to use MPEG4. This makes sense as existing MPEG2 FTA boxes won't be HDTV compatible anyway (so no point in using MPEG2 for HD) and similarly most FTA boxes are... FTA... so if you add a Pay-TV CAM then it makes sense to also go MPEG4 (and squeeze more SD channels into a given space?)

    Quite a sensible move IMHO.
     
  10. StooMonster

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    Okay... was thinking about broadband based distribution when I posted, not about trickle broadcast downloads...

    Read about this ages ago -- think it was in New Media Age magazine -- others ideas also discussed with this broadcast technology include:
    • Series Link backwards in time ... missed the first episodes of a series? No problem, just 'series link' backwards.
    • Missed programme either by minutes or days? Download from last week's schedule.
    • Distribution by broadband, but using BitTorrent type distribution so that more people signed up to the system and a particular programme the faster the downloads.
    • Downloads not in real-time, but ahead of schedule and then unlocked when live; unless older programmes which you would have to wait for download to complete.
    • More interactive channel content = more red button!

    Can't remember any more of the features being discussed off the top of my head. :rolleyes:

    StooMonster
     

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