The DVB Standards Debate

by Staff Reporter | July 11th, 2012 | 1 Comment

Thomas Van den Driessche, director of vertical markets, Newtec

Thomas Van den Driessche, director of vertical markets, Newtec, responds to queries by SatellitePro ME on the existing DVB-S2 standards and moves to develop new standards.

Is it right that in terms of a future potential standard, the DVB group has so far taken the view that the performance gains offered by these modulation techniques (put forward by Newtec and Novelsat) are not significant to develop a DVB-S3 standard. As such these systems will remain closed proprietary standards – at least in the short term? Do you view this as a setback?

That is not entirely correct. The improvements are very significant and increasing as the exercise continues. There is a strong will in the standardisation bodies to extend the current standard, there is a common acceptance not to have a long period with proprietary modulations. So there is action on the standards front.

Experts believe that the Newtec standard will be useful with news organisations that operate their own closed network of satellite trucks and are therefore free to operate a proprietary modulation scheme and can take OPEX advantages that these new modulation technologies can provide in a reduction in leased satellite bandwidth. Do you agree? However, the downside, they believe is, many trucks operate across many organisations and so the news organisations will need to maintain the additional satellite bandwidth lease that DVB-S2 requires.

Video contribution and high speed links can indeed benefit immediately from the improvements, however they are also seen as prime candidates for the standardisation focus. So the interoperability question would be answered by a new standard or an extension to the current one. Newtec’s current extensions, like Clean Channel Technology (CCT – Low Roll Off’s and increased noise filtering) do provide a high degree of interoperability with non-Newtec equipment.

Regarding distribution networks, again experts believe that closed networks could migrate to the new standard – however the cost factor stands in the way. Installing that additional costly equipment at multiple locations can quickly become a significant expense that may outweigh the RF performance gain – how do you counter this argument considering that DVB-S2 inputs built into integrated receiver/decoders (IRDs) are now very affordable?

Newtec’s terminal range starts at US $500 for a full terminal (including indoor and outdoor units). Spectral efficiency improvements are being gradually engineered across our entire portfolio. For example, CCT is becoming available on all VSAT terminals as we speak. Obviously this cycle ends with the availability of silicon-on-chip that includes a new standard.

DTH operators will make a similar cost-benefit argument, as stated in the previous question, that is in favour of the existing standard. How would you respond?

It is our opinion that DTH operators will also benefit from a new standard even if this probably represents a longer cycle. That timing would normally coincide with the availability of chipsets and maybe co-exist with new video compression algorithms. One could expect similar adoption cycles like the ones we saw moving from DVB-S to S2. Contrary to a slower market acceptance, the current request we are getting from DTH operators is to include all add-on technologies that may add 5% – 15% improvement. It seems that the market’s drive for content is dictating the speed at which DTH operators are trying to adopt.

Contrary to a slower market acceptance, the current request we are getting from DTH operators is to include all add-on technologies that may add 5% – 15% improvement. It seems that the market’s drive for content is dictating the speed at which DTH operators are trying to adopt

One area where industry insiders see clear benefits in the new technology is in direct, point-to-point satellite links such as IP backbone redundancy links. “This new technology can deliver hundreds on mbit/s capacity. These networks are very much closed networks and the data rate gains Vs equipment cost are significantly weighted in favour of a switch to new technology.” Do you agree with this view?

There is no market more obvious than the high speed backbones for all improved spectral efficiencies (For example Clean Channel Technology, bandwidth cancellation and DVB-S2 extensions). The equipment cost is marginal when compared to the cost of bandwidth. However video contribution, non-consumer distribution, government application, backhauling, etc. are immediate candidates as well.

One view is that with continuing compression efficiency improvements, a change to the latest generation encoders will probably deliver the same level of gains that the new modulation technology promises and does so without needing to move away from open-standards transmission. What is your response to such an argument?

The improvement in compression will indeed provide similar gains, however as with the migration towards MPEG4, HD and DVB-S2, it is the stack of complementary technologies that brings the market to a higher level. Indeed it is not OR but AND. This is one of those occasions when we don’t have to choose. On the open-standards question: It is Newtec’s belief that there will be standardisation and hence open-standards. We would not enforce a long period of proprietary operations, which could harm DVB-S2.

On the open-standards question: It is Newtec’s belief that there will be standardisation and hence open-standards. We would not enforce a long period of proprietary operations, which could harm DVB-S2

The experts believe that for most video applications it is probably worth sitting back and waiting for a further year or so to see if any system becomes an agreed standard or the de facto standard. What is the way forward for Newtec?

Obviously some can sit back and wait another year, others are anxious to move on and can not wait or even speculate. For Newtec, the way forward is assisting the standardisation bodies in bringing the progress to the industry. What is proprietary today at Newtec should just be seen as a demonstration of tomorrow’s possible next standard.

 

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