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A meeting of the DVB Steering Board has approved the Commercial Requirements for the next phase of Ultra High Definition Television, paving the way for the technical work on the specification to progress.
The path to UHDTV was set in the ITU in 2012 with a potential list of new features for future television (ITU-R BT.2020.) Since then, DVB has developed, and continues to develop, systems to allow appropriate features to be practically delivered to the public. A major milestone for television has now been reached with the agreement on the requirements for a ‘UHD-1 Phase 2’ delivery format.
The first system developed by DVB in 2014 was termed ’DVB UHD-1 Phase 1’. This offered content providers the possibility of delivering services with images with four times the resolution of 1080p HDTV. This is available and is in use, but in future it will be possible to also provide services with further features to enhance the viewing experience. This is termed ‘DVB UHD-1 Phase 2’.
A key new feature will be the capability to provide images with a high dynamic range (the difference between the blackest black and the whitest white in the image), termed HDR. Television sets of the future will allow higher peak screen brightnesses that can exploit the HDR. This is seen as a major potential gain in image quality, said to add ‘sparkle’ to the image.
Other new features may be available for UHDTV in the same timetable such as ‘Next Generation Audio’ offering a number of new options for sound.
A further potential new feature is the capability to provide images with sharper moving objects – a higher frame rate or HFR. The development of practical consumer equipment for this feature may take longer than the above features, and thus it may follow several years after them.
Technical specifications are to be included that would allow, when needed by the service operator, users already using Phase 1 to make use of Phase 2 services (backwards compatibility).
The task now remains for the DVB Technical Module to translate the Commercial Requirements into a technical specification, which once completed will be submitted to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) for standardisation. It is expected that the specification will be finalised in 2016. This could mean that the first DVB UHD-1 Phase 2 services, that include the HDR feature, would be available from 2017 onwards.
“This is a major achievement for DVB and the television industry,” declared DVB Chairman Phil Laven. “We now have a plan for the evolution of television into the age of Ultra High Definition Television. It’s an exciting future that will bring a new quality of experience to television.”