BBC Begins World Cup UHD Trials

LONDON—The BBC has started trials to transmit UHD content over its digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting network. The trials involve live transmission of coverage from the World Cup.

To accomplish this, the broadcaster is demonstrating an end-to-end live UHD broadcast over both a traditional DVB network and an adaptive bitrate delivery approach over IP. The BBC is partnering with Arqiva on the DTT side and is using existing “super-fast” broadband infrastructure for the IP delivery. The UHD content will be received in the U.K. from an H.264/AVC satellite contribution feed. That content will be compressed in the Main Profile HEVC format for both DTT and IP. The frame rate being used is 59.95Hz, the same standard in Brazil, where the content is originating.

The DTT trial is being transmitted from Crystal Palace in London, Winter Hill in Manchester and Black Hill in Glasgow. The stream will use the latest DVB-DASH profile and is geo-IP locked to the U.K. only. The BBC says that since they will be using the same T2 modulation that they use for HD broadcasts, the signal can probably be received on current consumer devices, but that it’s not “aware of any equipment which can decode the video.” It added that “in conjunction with some consumer equipment vendors, we will be using some of the latest chipsets from silicon suppliers.”

The network said that part of the experiment will be to test the performance of new HEVC encoders and that the video bitrates are most likely to change but that it expects the data rate to be around 30-35 Mbps.

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.