April 5, 2016 is a big day for television broadcasters and viewers throughout France. On that date, all of the country’s digital terrestrial television (DVB) channels will migrate to high-definition broadcasting, coinciding with the transfer of the 700 MHz frequency to mobile operators for for-profit use. TV viewers are the big winners since they’ll be able to enjoy their favorite programs with the enhanced audio and video quality that comes with HDTV. The government will accomplish the migration overnight by standardizing the entire DVB platform on the MPEG-4 codec, which offers a powerful and reliable technical environment for HD broadcasting.
Of the 31 national networks operating on the French DVB platform, only 11 are currently broadcasting in HD. Viewers throughout the country have been able to enjoy HD reception on these 11 channels for a few years using any mode of reception, including antenna, satellite, cable, and ADSL. With the switchover on April 5, France will be able to more than double the number of free terrestrial channels broadcasting in HD to a total of 29. The channels will be grouped into 6 multiplexes, with 5 HD channels per multiplex, in order to free up bandwidth for mobile operators. With the 6 multiplexes relying on our award-winning ViBE EM4000 premium HD/SD encoder, Thomson Video Networks now part of Harmonic technology is truly at the heart of the French terrestrial HD migration.
Each channel on these multiplexes will be able to take advantage of powerful functionality built into the ViBE EM4000 specifically designed to ease broadcasters’ transition to HD operations. For example, the ViBE EM4000 includes a broadcast-grade SD-to-HD conversion capability that allows broadcasters to combine premium HD MPEG-4 compression with the ability to upscale an SD video source to HD. With premium compression and broadcast-grade upscaling combined in a single encoding solution, broadcasters are able to move more quickly to an all-HD broadcast operation while reducing capital and operating expenses. These capabilities make the ViBE EM4000 ideal not just for terrestrial broadcasting but also for a wide range of broadcast applications including satellite, cable, and IP television.