Beyond HDTV: Implications for Digital Delivery

27 November 2009

The Beyond HD: Implications for Digital Delivery report provides a review of next generation television display technology developments, in order to gain insight into the bit rates likely to be required to deliver such services in the future.
It concentrates on the potential development of stereoscopic TV ("3D" TV) and Ultra High Definition television (UHDTV), although other issues such as higher frame rate, wider aspect ratio, greater bit depth, improved chrominance resolution and wider colour gamut are also considered.

The report explores some possible scenarios for the broadcasting of stereoscopic TV and UHDTV by terrestrial and satellite broadcasting, taking into account the likely developments in channel coding and modulation. Three scenarios for technology development are considered: most probable, pessimistic and optimistic. The pessimistic case is intended to be close to a worst case situation, which there is a 90% probability of exceeding. The optimistic scenario is intended to represent a best case situation, with only a 10% probability of exceeding.

In each scenario, predictions are made on the number of services that could be carried in an 8MHz terrestrial channel or a 36MHz satellite transponder in the year 2020. The year 2020 was chosen for the scenarios since by then stereoscopic TV is likely to have either matured to become a mainstream service or else been relegated to a niche market that is of little interest to broadcasters. Similarly, by 2020 UHDTV should have become practical to provide to the consumer at acceptable prices, if it is a service that is of mainstream interest.

With reference to the Gartner Hype Cycle [Fig 1], the current situation for stereoscopic TV displays has all the characteristics of a classic "Peak of Inflated Expectations", whilst UHDTV appears to be at the "Technology Trigger" stage. By 2020, both technologies should have reached the "Plateau of Productivity" stage.

Figure 1: Gartner Hype Cycle

This report present the findings of work conducted on Ofcom's behalf. The opinions and conclusions stated within the reports are those of the organisation who conducted the research and may not reflect the view of Ofcom or necessarily imply any future work in related areas.

The full document is available below.