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DTT future lies in supporting portable TVs in the home

Regulators have screwed up over digital terrestrial TV (DTT) frequency planning by failing to support in-home coverage for portable TVs and so squandering the one big advantage they have over satellite. Bu it is not too late for a revision of frequency planning to enable portable TVs in homes to access DTT-based services directly without having to connect to a home network. This view was put, albeit more tactfully, by satellite and terrestrial distribution expert Andrew Glasspool , co-founder and managing partner at UK broadcasting consultancy Farncombe.

Glasspool thinks that DTT works much better in more densely populated areas and cannot compete effectively with satellite for covering large rural regions given its inherently lower capacity and the fact that there need to be a large number of transmitters to serve a relatively small number of TV homes. In urban areas, the deployment of DVB-T2 can coincide with a new frequency plan to support in-home coverage. DVB-T2 was designed to carry HDTV signals better and also allows channel multiplexes to be created that are more resilient to signal degradation than under DVB-T, providing the opportunity for terrestrial transmission to play a major role in future in-home services, alongside wired or wireless home networking technologies.

As Glasspool pointed out, analogue terrestrial worked well inside many homes, enabling people to set up portable TVs in their kitchens or bedrooms by just attaching a small, low-cost aerial. But this was lost with the advent of DTT, which as a result of what Glasspool calls a "frequency planning error," failed to provide as robust signal in the home. "One of the really odd things is that if you want to watch a portable TV in the home now, you need a tablet such as an iPad or Google Android," Glasspool said.

Of course home networks can provide the connectivity but often not to legacy portable TVs, and so Glasspool urges regulators to maximize the potential of DTT in metropolitan areas by supporting indoor reception. Then remote areas can be left to satellite.