ETSI publishes new HbbTV spec for UK and Italy transition

Simon Fell

Simon Fell

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has published a new version of the HbbTV specification that will enable the UK and Italy to transition legacy TV services from the old MHEG and MHP standards respectively.

TV and set-top manufacturers will upgrade equipment to provide full HbbTV support next year. Ahead of that, there will be a transitional period during which broadcasters will provide apps and interactive TV services in both the older format and HbbTV.

The publication by ETSI follows the updating of the HbbTV standard in April in a move that saw the UK’s DTG and the HD Forum Italia work in close collaboration to enable support for key services and applications.

The new version of the standard is designed to enable applications running on hybrid devices that include a DVB broadcast service and IP-delivered interactive services.

The UK originally used MHEG for interactive services, while YouView, the interactive TV project that brought together the country’s major free-to-air broadcasters, but which has primarily been adopted as a pay TV platform by BT and TalkTalk, was originally based on a combination of technologies that encompassed Adobe Flash and MHEG. Free-to-air platform Freesat adopted a technology that was closer to HbbTV, and HTML5-based, for its interactive platform, Freetime, while EE adopted HbbTV as the basis for its TV service.

Italy was one of the few countries to adopt the DVB-MHP standard as the basis for free-to-air interactive services.

“Having the UK and Italy switch to HbbTV is a big step for the broadcasting sector. It shows how the whole industry can move forward and benefit from the economies of scale with a single standard, says Simon Fell, chairman of ETSI joint technical committee broadcast. “We hope more and more countries will implement HbbTV specifications.”

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