Cellular-broadcast network rationale

Plumb and Farncombe have produced a report on a change of infrastructure for the future of spectrum management for the European Commission. Their conclusions state that it is not clear that a move from broadcast (high power high tower) to cell based (Low Power Low Tower) transmission is beneficial.

The crux of the matter lies in the question posed and the scenario assumptions. The report works with scenarios to avoid making a choice on developments; which include the continued need for linear services over the air to TVs as well as mobile devices (see figure). The question is whether the trend can be predicted more accurately and/or be created using a little vision (we need the French for this).


Surely in the near future the whole of the European Population will need a (fixed location) broadband infrastructure. This is economically speaking probably more essential than today’s TV. This has been a priority for years in the EC, and for good reasons. Fiber and cable speeds, augmented by ADSL and wireless, at minimum 20Mbit/s, but as a rule 100Mbit/s and above.

Such a broadband infrastructure should be able to handle the “public” task of delivery of linear and VOD TV services to every home. It may not be completely free (at least the BB connection is not) but VOD and linear viewing can be seamless; which would be a huge step forward for all. Given where things are moving linear viewing may be out for all but a few main-public live-oriented channels. The rest of the content on today’s linear channels will be much better off being delivered through VOD. The freed up spectrum (possibly in higher frequency bands) might be partially given to Wifi local connections. If these start to run out of spectrum that may bring more value to society than even more bandwidth for cellular services.

Whether linear services should be offered for mobile applications is dubious. The demand for this (outside the home) today is very modest, market value very low; it is unclear whether it will grow. Wifi based on underlying BB infrastructure is the rule for TV on mobile. DVB-H was a total flop; is there a reason to repeat this. I.e. forget about the right two scenario in the figure, specifically the bottom-right. The emphasis (for TV) should be on the top left.

The case should be investigated to stop investing in DTT completely, certainly in UHD, and even in HEVC and DVB-T2. Instead the focus should be to create a BB based TV infrastructure as soon as possible that includes delivery of public services should be investigated with the highest priority. Of course one could offer a limited set of key channels on a modest quality via a DTT for an extended period to bridge the gap.

Should the conclusion of the Plumb and Farncombe report be revised if the above bears merit: no! There indeed is no reason to think that a combined network makes sense. The,  key business for it, mobile linear TV, is very weak, and probably better options exist that free up even more spectrum for new uses (cellular, Wifi).

Argument for converged broadcast platform unresolved

Plumb and Farncombe executive summary

Plumb and Farncombe full report


Posted in DTT

Netflix vs. OpenTV patent battle: 1-0

In a Dutch trial a claim by Kudelsi-owned OpenTV against Netflix was denied on the grounds that the patent was now innovative. A similar lawsuit is running in the USA.

The OpenTV patent EP 0879534 in essence claims that a URL (or other locator) for online services is sent along invisibly with the video and can be presented on the screen for user selection (priority date is 1996). The court agrees with Netflix that there is a patent  WO 97/02699 with an earlier priority date (1995) that establishes the same technique. This renders the patent of OpenTV largely useless. Here is the Dutch patent verdict.

There is another lawsuit on a second patent pending between OpenTV and Netflix. To be continued.



Computerworld – Nederlands Netflix-verbod in de kiem gesmoord.

Posted in IPR

UHD and watermarking

According to movielabs watermarking sould be used on UHD content, though it is not too specific on how it should be deployed. Herewith a public announcement of such a new deployment. Watermarking needs a (big) push from the content industry: the incentive for distributers and aggregators to deploy watermarking to trace leaks is too weak.


Civolution boosts Wuaki.tv Ultra HD content protection | Advanced Television.

Movielabs UHD content protection requirements

Ultra-HD streaming; only on smartTVs

An interesting news item on Advanced TV network with Amazon announcing its lineup of UHD content for its prime member video service subscibers. It is available…. only on compatible smartTVs. This may be an almost historic moment for the industry where prime services are first available on TVs and maybe come later to settop boxes. Also first on OTT: the network which is supposed to be least suited for UHD. This may be a landmark in the industry.


Amazon confirms Ultra-HD streaming | Advanced Television.

Posted in OTT