The Horizon project consists of the elaboration of a new product line optimised for the satellite distribution of Terrestrial TV and Mobile TV multiplexes to broadcast towers. The new products will be developed with the following objectives in mind:
- Reduction of the cost of a typical network deployment,
- Improvement of the bandwidth usage those applications,
- Added-value features for those networks,
- Having a coherent portfolio to address most of the typical deployments.
The phase 1 of the Horizon project consists of developing the base platforms needed to efficiently distribute mobile TV or terrestrial TV signals from a head-end to broadcast towers.
The project is phased according to three main releases:
- Release 2 aims at developing the various building blocks needed to propose a coherent range of solutions for Mobile TV and Terrestrial TV. It focuses on news products and new platforms with base functionalities.
- Release 3 aims at adding security features to products elaborated in release 2. Content protection is indeed a key sales enabler.Release 3 also focuses on extending the applicability range of release 2 products by making them compliant with new standards.
- Release 4 aims at integrating added-value features in Release 3 products. The main goal of those new features is to optimize the use of the satellite bandwidth and to make products complaints with a wider range of setups.
The solution developed in this project addresses the satellite distribution of mobile TV or Terrestrial TV content to broadcast towers across a country.
A typical diagram of such a system is depicted in the diagram below.
click for larger image
The project focuses mainly on the satellite receivers to be placed in the towers. The high number of towers involved in actual deployments requires indeed cost-effective solutions to be effective. The Horizon project will also address elements on the head-end that enable either to have very efficient satellite transmissions or to have very cost-effective tower solutions.
The project also addresses the aspects of modulation and amplification to the extent their integration or joint offer is needed to allow the building of an efficient solution for network providers.
The solutions will first target the DVB-T and DVB-H standards and will in a second stage be extended to other standards like DVB-SH, ISDB-T, MediaFlo, T-DMB, CMMB, etc.
The Prior Work of the project started in May 2008.
The actual kick-off of the project took place in February 2009.
The project is phased as follows:
- Phase 1: elaboration of base products for an efficient distribution of DTT or Mobile TV signals: May 2009,
- Phase 2: Implementation of first added-value features like security. Extension of some products to support other standards: November 2009,
- Phase 3: Addition of added-value feature to increase the range of business model supported by the Horizon products: May 2010.
This project addresses one key issue mainly: the deployment and operation of a Digital Terrestrial TV network or Mobile TV network is not cost-effective if classical satellite modulator and demodulator are used.
More precisely, the issues are:
- Several multiplexes often need to be distributed in parallel to the same tower, requiring as many modulators in the head-end and as many demodulators in the receiver
- Additional functions are often needed on the transmission itself, requiring their integration in the satellite receiver itself for cost reduction.
- When multiple multiplexes are distributed over a country, the amount of data (especially in terrestrial TV) justifies implementing bandwidth optimisation measures.
- In the tower, several functionalities can be merged together to reduce the cost of deployment.
The main competition for such applications comes from the use of stand-alone satellite demodulators or IRDs. Those solution are often most cost-effective for a single multiplex distribution, provided bitrates are not too high.
This project aims at compensating the limitations of such solutions by coupling to high-end professional devices additional functionalities to render them cost effective.
The main benefits are:
- Reduction in the number of satellite receivers needed by aggregating several multiplexes on the same carrier,
- Reduction of the deployment cost by integrating in the receivers of additional elements needed in the towers as a GPS receiver, a SFN adapter or a COFDM modulator,
- Higher added value of the distribution system by the provisioning of receivers with added capabilities like support of secure transmission,
- Lower satellite bandwidth usage by technologies optimising the use of the satellite bandwidth,
- Ability to efficiently distribute multiplexes even is regional multiplexes are considered in a setup.
The global benefit of the proposed development is that the Newtec products will turn the satellite link from a commodity into an intelligent element able to reduce both deployment cost and operational costs compared to other solutions.
Current Status (dated: 01 Dec 2010)
The project is now completed.
The project was officially started in February 2009, with a prior work already executed in May 2008.
Phase 1 was completed in March 2010.
Phase 2 was completed in November 2010.
Various products have been developed:
- Upgrade of HZ410, HZ420 Satellite-to-terrestrial transceivers,
- The AZ810 Stream Aggregator which aggregates 6 or more multiplexes on the same carrier,
- The HZ914 Multistream satellite receiver, able to demodulate and output up to 4 multiplexes simultaneously on its ASI outputs.
These products implement the following key features for the DTT market:
- Multistream technology to allow the efficient broadcast of multiple DTT, Mobile TV and other service (radio) multiplexes on the same carrier, and using one demodulator only for all services
- Implementation of a generic encryption layer that can be applied on all services seamlessly. This security solution, based on AES, also respects the signal integrity, allowing its use in SFN networks.
These products have been deployed in several primary distribution networks for Digital Terrestrial TV.