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Italy gets world's first terrestrial 3D TV; broadcasters work on specs

Mediaset, Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster, has trialed the first 3D broadcast service over a digital terrestrial television (DTT) network. The service, known as 3VOD, operates on the Bestv settop decoders supplied by Dublin-based TV technology developer Motive.

Giuseppe Flores d’Arcais, Co- Founder of Bestv and Director of Motive, believe this 3D DTT transmission is a “world first.” So far, 3D TV services have been limited to cable and satellite pay-TV platforms, such as Sky in the UK, due to the high bandwidth required to deliver the picture quality. As 3D TV requires two images per frame, the files are twice as large as normal 2D content.

With terrestrial broadcasters’ growing interest in joining the 3D bandwagon – transmission operator Arqiva already last year discussed options for delivering 3D broadcast services over the UK's DTT networks – there is call for 3D specs formulation.

The Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Project, the organisation which oversees the DVB digital TV technology and its component standards, has added 3D to the specifications. DVB-3DTV, which will be formally published next month, defines how broadcasters should transmit 3D TV programming and how set-top box and TV makers should pick up the signal, decode it and display it, irrespective of whether the screen uses active or passive 3D systems. This will make it easier to upgrade existing hardware to 3D with a simple software update.

Amongst various options, the DVB is pondering adding "depth map" data to broadcasts to allow the user to control the level of front-to-back separation between left- and right-eye images.

As for the Digital TV Group (DTG), it says it intends to lead the development of a UK standard for 3DTV products and services. “Since the launch of our consultation, 3D has evolved from an emerging technology limited to cinema into a compelling home entertainment proposition, with broadcasters set to launch 3D services as early as this year and technical standards approved for 3-D Blu-ray and HDMI,” says the group’s Technology Director Simon Gauntlett. “What is currently missing is a standard for delivering 3D to the home via broadcast or IP delivery.”

Story filed 28.01.11

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