Test and monitor vendors set to ride digital TV wave

The inexorable march towards digitisation and digital broadcasting is set to have a positive ripple effect on global video test equipment (VTE) markets. The key challenge for vendors will be to design open testing systems and to maintain margins, even while offering consumers cost-effective products with enhanced functionalities.

Analysis from Frost & Sullivan Global Video Test Equipment Markets, finds that the markets generated $298.3 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach $359.4 million in 2015. The research covers both analogue and digital VTE.

“The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting initiatives is being driven by the freeing up of spectrum which, in turn, is boosting the VTE market,” notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Prathima Bommakanti. “The rapid growth of digital television, as well as HD television services, is set to impact investments by broadcast stations globally, spurring the demand for VTE.”

The migration to digitisation has had a significant impact on the VTE market. Broadcasters need to upgrade their facility and equipment, which, in turn, has meant more testing.

Gaming is also affecting market prospects. Liquid crystal display (LCD) technology has become the standard for high-end gaming. The mounting complexity of gaming technology and its interoperability with TV has triggered a rise in the demand for VTE.

Evolving customer trends have resulted in an escalating demand for advanced TVs. For instance, there is greater demand for LCD TVs rather than for flat panel display (FPD) TVs, such as plasmas and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). Such trends are fuelling greater demand for advanced video test sets.

“The increasing complexity of protocols and the concurrent development of different standards have underlined the importance of test equipment with improved testing capabilities,” adds Bommakanti. “However, as protocols become more difficult to implement, it creates a serious challenge for test equipment to provide accurate measurements, particularly in the light of interoperability issues.”

Although market prospects are bright, there are still some areas of concern. For instance, while many governments worldwide have initiated steps to facilitate the digitisation of television, there is no uniform deadline for achieving this transition, especially in countries within the Asia Pacific region.

“Moreover, even as the broadcast segment witnesses an exponential increase in the amount of digital content, the high capital expenditure is discouraging many broadcasters – particularly smaller, regional ones – from investing in upgrades,” cautions Bommakanti. “High costs are not only dissuading companies from transitioning to digital networks, but are also restraining investments in digital equipment, including testing solutions.”

There is now intensifying pressure on test equipment manufacturers to make VTE with high functionality available at lower prices. Proving return on investment (ROI) is also a significant challenge for VTE vendors.

“VTE vendors should focus on providing a high level of open system design, modularity and flexibility in their hardware and software architectures,” concludes Bommakanti. “This will help sustain market momentum.”

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