German PSBs plan to migrate to DVB-T2; DVB-T switch-off 2020

Germany's main public service broadcasters ARD and ZDF have this week agreed to move toward a transfer of digital terrestrial TV services to the DVB-T2 standard.

The DVB-T2 standard is primarily used in the UK for Freeview HD services, but in Germany, ARD and ZDF are reportedly eyeing up the extra capacity to be able to broadcast the full range of their channels on digital terrestrial television in standard definition.

Currently, some of their channels available on satellite and cable are missing or have to timeshare on terrestrial TV due to insufficient capacity.

Although the bulk of channels would continue to be standard definition, ARD has not ruled out the transmission of individual HD channels via German terrestrial TV. In the UK, five HD channels fit on one DVB-T2 multiplex.

The migration would take place between 2017 and 2020, with ARD requesting that the 700 MHz band be kept open for TV services during that time to enable a migration with services simulcast in both DVB-T and DVB-T2. Traditional DVB-T services would go off air in 2020 according to the plans.

The 700 MHz frequency band, part of the UHF frequency range used by terrestrial TV, is being earmarked in a number of European countries for future mobile phone services, meaning that TV services delivered via an aerial will have fewer frequencies for their own use. Austria has recently confirmed that it will not be using the 700 MHz band for mobile services. Ofcom is still developing its strategy for the affected UK airwaves.

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