Government decision and coding efficiency for Radio and TV
On February 27th 2014 the Swedish Government took the decision to release the 700 MHz frequency band for
terrestrial television, to mobile broadband and mobile telephony, starting in 2017. This undoubtedly means that
about 1/3 of all TV broadcasts, from April 2017 and onward, is to move from UHF band 694-790 MHz (Ch 49-
60) down to the VHF band III 174 - 230 MHz. Continuing use is granted for terrestrial TV broadcasting until
2020 in the UHF band 470-694 MHz (Ch 21-48), i.e. approximately 2/3 of all TV broadcasts. This means that
digital audio broadcasts and 1/3 of all digital TV need to coexist on the VHF band III, 174 - 230 MHz from April
The Government believes that there are grounds for a continuing shift towards more efficient compression and
transmission technologies for TV broadcasting, and that the premise is that the frequency spectrum used
should be accomplished in an efficient manner (radio also). It is therefore appropriate to discuss the
effectiveness of the present digital TV and radio systems.
Digital TV is in essence still broadcasting with first-generation technology using the DVB-T standard including
MPEG-2 video encoding and MPEG Layer-2 audio coding, though Sweden is heading for more efficient
technologies. The DVB-T2 standard has already been introduced in Sweden and includes the H.264 video
coding standard (also for HD-TV). This is about twice as efficient as MPEG-2 video. The HE-AAC audio codec is
about twice as efficient as MPEG Layer-2. Moreover, recently a new video encoder has been developed that is
twice as efficient as H.264 i.e. the H.265.
Digital Radio Sweden believes that efficiency in the audio and video coding field is approaching saturation.
Therefore, it is imperative to consolidate a future-proof and highly efficient technology consisting of the H.265
video encoder and HE-AAC audio encoder together with the substandard DVB-T2-Lite, in order to maximize
performance and revitalize broadcasting technology in order to enable introduction of new technologies and
The Government decision involves changes for TV viewers. From 2017 many viewers have to invest in new
TV-sets and set-top-boxes that are DVB-T2 compliant. The Swedish Government should take action to support
and promote this future-proof and enabling technology, by providing instructions and legislation to equipment
manufacturers and importers well in time before 2017, both on the transmitter side as well as receiver side. In
addition, Digital Radio Sweden propose that the Government should evaluate the possibility for a full transition to
DVB-T2 in 2017 and shut down DVB-T. Such an effort would support a more efficient frequency planning for
DVB-T2 as a system, both in the VHF band III and the UHF band.
The Government should require support for the new video codec H.265 in the DVB-T2 standard as well as
support for the DVB-T2-Lite substandard and decide that TV receivers and set-top-boxes would not be legal to
market after a given date, unless supporting the new standards. Such pressures are currently executed
internationally by major organizations. Italy wants - by legislation - to introduce DVB-T2 with H.265 video
already in 2014, and Germany wants to introduce DVB-T2 with H.265 video from year 2017.