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Study: U.K. Faces Challenges With HDTV Transmission

17 Apr, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

Those concerned about bandwidth issues for delivering high-def content to HDTV homes will find signs of caution in a new study of the United Kingdom by research firm Understanding & Solutions.

Moving HD content through existing pipelines in the United Kingdom and Europe as a whole is already a challenge, and even with new wiring in the next few years, Understanding & Solutions is predicting just 7% penetration of high-definition terrestrial television (HD-DTT) in the United Kingdom by 2012.

This spells bad news for public service broadcasters, and non-cable and non-satellite operators.

“Improvements in compression technologies like MPEG-4 AVC are making HD-DTT solutions a possibility,” said Graeme Packman, principal consultant at Understanding & Solutions. “Although only with a very limited number of channels. Further technological development will help breach the bottleneck, but it's a slow process requiring considerable international coordination.”

Two proposals to the United Kingdom's HD-DTT issue have been proposed, one backed by government regulator Ofcom, the other proposed by independent industry groups. The second is more ambitious, calling for more than 40 HD-DTT channels in the next few years. The government's proposal has no set number of HD-DTT channels it wants available.

“Implementation of the more radical of these proposals could require the amendment of currently agreed spectrum allocations,” said Packman, “which will mean the rapid obsolescence of broadcasters' investment plans for digital transition. However, it would lead to more frequencies being handed back and potentially a greater opportunity for the government to raise money.”

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