France launches consultation on future of DTT as 700MHz threat looms

France’s Direction générale des médias et des industries culturelles (DGMIC) and media regulator the CSA have jointly launched a consultation on the future of the country’s digital-terrestrial platform in view of the possible reallocation of the 700MHz band to telecom applications. 

The consultation is seeking views across six topics.

First, it has invited parties to submit views on the likely evolution of services distributed on the DTT platform in five to 10 years time, including the number of linear services, the likely development of HD, ultra-HD and 3D services and the development of associated interactive services.  In particular, the consultation is seeking to establish whether HD will become the standard format for DTT, whether SD channels are likely to be at competitive disadvantage, and whether it will be possible to distribute ultra HD channels via a multiplex with limited coverage. It is also looking to establish whether non-linear services can be distributed via DTT and what position DTT is likely to have in the new landscape of consumption of content via multiple devices.

Second, the consultation will look at the evolution of current compression technology, and in particular the feasibility of generalising the use of MPEG-4 across all services on the platform and the impact this is likely to have on consumer perceptions and on reception equipment.

Third it will look at the feasibility of introducing new technologies, and in particular the synchronous introduction of DVB-T2 and HEVC compression, what types of services could be introduced to a DVB-T2/HEVC multiplex and when, and whether the closing down of MPEG-2 broadcasts could be synchronised with the introduction of DVB-T2/HEVC.

Fourth, the consultation will look at the evolution of the market for reception equipment including the likely timing of the launch of Ultra HD screens and the availability of DVB-T2/HEVC-compatible equipment, as well as the type of services that could encourage rapid adoption.

Fifth, it will seek views on the overall impact of the loss of part of the UHF spectrum on the distribution of DTT, including the re-composition of existing multiplexes and reallocation of frequencies, and whether it is possible to use the VHF spectrum for DTT.

Finally, the consultation will seek views on the ways in which different platforms could complement each other to provide maximum territorial coverage and also to match changing consumption patterns on different types of screens.

Interested parties have until July 25 to make submissions.