Rajendra Shah, Director, AVF Distributors (I) Pvt. Ltd.

The challenges produced by a dynamic broadcast environment are manifold, compelling high quality content and mass distribution which can be received on a hand held device, when on the move.{mosimage}

Digital broadcast offers improved signals and the efficient use of spectrum, releasing additional spectrum for other applications. The spectrum that is made available by the transition from analog to digital is the digital dividend that accrues. This spectrum can be used for a variety of multiplatform, multimedia applications. By implication, analog transmission must be progressively reduced and the digital transmission must appeal to a vast section, with content and quality, to take advantage of the freed spectrum.

The additional spectrum at disposal has spurred forays, improvements, and innovations in:

  • Existing platforms have seen marked improvements with high video and audio quality, increased number of services, and enrichment of the content with improved features like multiple options, news streams, and better interaction with the viewer/listener.
  • Convergence in broadcasting, which is primarily a hybrid of traditional broadcasting and mobile communication, as with video-over-LTE via eMBMS or as IP packets takes place as network convergence, device convergence, or industry convergence.
  • Telecommunications: LTE or IMT.

Most fixed-line and mobile operators offer television services and have built up a media-content business. Also, most content or broadcast companies now deliver telephony and Internet services and their television programming over a wide range of networks, devices, and to different audiences.

Digital processing and storage are more economical, enabling humongous store houses or libraries. With reduced transmission costs, consumers pay lower charges. Digital terrestrial broadcasting is cheaper than the other two major competing platforms, satellite and cable, which are indoor networks, and limited only by coverage constraints and the willingness to pass on the financial benefits to the consumer. Digitization has been responsible for many emerging, innovative services and devices like pay-TV, conditional access systems, receivers like set-top-boxes, PC-card integrated receivers, USB-based receivers and digital television sets and newer transmitters, antennas, and transport networks.

The spectrum freed as a result of digital compression and processing allows for more radio and television channels, improved picture and sound, portable and mobile reception, increased innovative and interactive services (video-on-demand, teletext, e-education, etc.). As competition gathers steam, this can only result in lower prices to the consumer, as a slew of new entrants and developers of newer applications arrive on the scene.

Digital broadcasts are able to access areas where the signals are distorted and even areas blocked by the topography of the land. The transition from analog to digital also aids in error correction in the signal and recovery in a noisy signal environment. Many channels can be broadcast within a fixed-frequency channel.

The future of broadcast is wireless, whether as conditional access or over-the-top content. The availability of bandwidth with the LTE/4G delivery mechanism will keep evolving with new applications for handheld devices. On offer will be various types of paid and free content as per the needs of the subscriber. With an increase in the subscriber numbers, the resulting lower prices will make subscription more affordable.