Intellect trial HbbTV spec for UK

Effectively snubbing the high-profile public broadcaster and ISP-backed launch of open IPTV platform YouView, Intellect, the UK’s trade body for the high technology sector, has revealed its preferred way for aligning the UK with HbbTV, the hybrid TV standard emerging dominant in Europe, for consultation with broadcasters.

Intellect suggests that in this way, hybrid television could work seamlessly alongside the UK’s Freeview HD platform, for example, just as it is developing in France, Italy, Germany and many other countries in Europe. Lord Sugar, YouView’s Chairman, suggested at the service’s launch July 4th that YouView would effectively replace Freeview as the TV platform choice for pay-TV refuseniks.

Intellect’s initiative includes:

  • the release of a specification enabling deployed HbbtV capability on devices, within the UK DTT system;
  • the announcement of test stream made available and hosted by Intellect;
  • a beginning of a process of consultation and discussion with broadcasters and other stakeholders.

William Higham, director at Intellect, said that harmonisation with the EU offered more choice to UK consumers. “It brings the ability to connect and stream additional channels and applications from across Europe, whether Eurovision or local news from a potential holiday destination. Moving towards TV without borders also gives huge scale advantages to UK content-makers and technology companies, in short the UK’s vital creative industries. Today is part of a discussion with UK stakeholders about how the UK can be a leading part of the European television market again.”

He said that there would soon be millions of devices in the UK’s home that could activate their HbbTV capability, broadcasters across Europe such as the major French and German ones who could use it, and a “huge” reciprocal opportunity for the UK. “I hope both the Communications Review process and the new leadership team at the BBC will make it their priority to ensure the UK is the leading market in Europe for innovation in horizontal platforms, just as it was through the period of switchover. And we will only achieve critical mass for UK content makers and technology companies if we lead in such a way that the rest of Europe can follow,” he stated.

Publication of the specification will be followed by period of discussion including a ‘roadshow’ of currently deployed HbbTV capability in critical markets such as Germany.

In October 2009 Richard Halton, YouView’s CEO (then Programme Director IPTV, at YouView forerunner Project Canvas), suggested that Canvas was co-operating with the HbbTV consortium and that HbbTV was “an ingredient in what we’re developing for Canvas. Essentially, there’s a lot of commonality. The teams are working together to get an aligned position. HbbTV is working directly with two or three of the major manufacturers; we’re working with (UK digital TV standards body) DTG.” He suggested that any point of difference would be “technical rather than philosophical”.

The DTG (Digital Television Group) October 2011 approved HbbTV-based connected TV specifications in the latest version of its digital TV specification, D-Book 7.

D-Book 7 – published for consultation earlier in the year – defines the critical interoperable coexistence of broadcast and broadband services and devices and has been formally approved by DTG Council and DTG Technical Council. Version 1 of part B of the specification for connected TV products and services has now been published to DTG members.

The DTG said it had worked closely with its members to meet the requirements of the BBC’s HTML applications, including the latest version of the BBC iPlayer, and other broadcasters’ catch-up TV players.

 

To ensure international harmonisation of standards the DTG said it was liaising with HbbTV, ETSI, the Open IPTV Forum (OIPF) and DECE (UltraViolet).

 

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