Australia prepares for 3-D TV

Australia is ready to broadcast the 2010 World Cup Tournament live in 3-D from South Africa after conducting a successful trial this morning across the country. The over-the-air broadcasts originated from the Gore Hill transmission site on the north shore of Sydney, in New South Wales. It's not clear how many 3-D TV sets have been sold in Australia, but there are plans for public viewings at specially equipped theaters and sports bars.

The first live 3-D TV broadcast will take place May 26, when a State of Origin rugby match will be played in Sydney. This will be followed by two more State of Origin rugby matches and up to 15 World Cup soccer matches until the trial ends in mid-July. In the meantime, demonstration 3-D content will be broadcast from the Gore Hill site.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which governs TV and radio broadcasts in the country, granted a temporary license for the test to commercial network Nine and multilingual broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). It has dedicated spectrum used for the trial on one of the “unassigned” UHF channels in each city; in Sydney, it is the same channel vacated on April 30 by Broadcast Australia’s “niche TV” trial service.

Broadcast Australia, a provider of broadcast communications solutions, is working with Nine Network Australia and SBS to conduct the two-month trial of the 3-D service, which will be available in seven major Australian cities. As a transmission technology partner in some of these cities, Broadcast Australia, working with TX Australia, will deliver to Australian fans up to 15 matches from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, plus three rugby league matches from the 2010 State of Origin Series between NSW and Queensland, live in 3-D.

Graeme Barclay, Broadcast Australia’s managing director, said, “It is this sort of innovation that highlights the need to reserve new broadcast spectrum for new broadcast services in the government’s forthcoming spectrum plan.”

In a fast-tracked engineering project, Broadcast Australia has modified several of its broadcast transmission systems to support the 3-D TV signal, which is being encoded using MPEG-4 compression and sent as two independent HD (1080p) signals via a side-by-side, frame-compatible 3-D transmission technique. These systems have been integrated into Broadcast Australia’s network operations center in Sydney for 24-hour monitoring and control of the 3-D signal.

Broadcast Australia, headquartered in Chatswood, New South Wales, is the exclusive provider of DTV transmission services for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and SBS. Broadcast Australia is helping to complete the conversion to DTV service that replicates the existing ABC and SBS analog TV networks.