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Europe: HD Becoming More Highly Defined

As Premiere of Germany, BSkyB of the U.K., and Canal+ and TPS in France are gearing up for DBS HD deployment in the next several months, signaling a rather remarkable surge in HD priorities after several years of virtually ignoring the technology, more technical HD parameters emerged from the recent IBC conclave in Amsterdam.

The aforementioned three European countries will all use the second generation DVB satellite broadcast spec, DVB-S2, which uses improved channel coding and a variety of modulation formats--QPSK, 8PSK, 16APSK and 32 APSK--to provide about a 30 percent increase in bit rate compared to DVB-S.

Britain, France and Germany also all plan to use the advanced video codec MPEG-4 Part 10 (AVC) and the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, NAB is reporting to its TV members this week, although AAC and enhanced AAC are also included in the DVB standard.

According to an IBC session co-produced by the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and SMPTE, several European cable operators, too, are making plans to carry HD, using 256QAM modulation to increase channel capacity. They will use AVC, with some systems possibly opting for VC-1. However, engineers warned, current limitations on European spectrum make it unlikely that digital terrestrial HD will be seen in the near future.

It also appears increasingly likely that both 720p and 1080i will be used for transmission in Europe (despite earlier calls by the EBU favoring 720p).