Television as we know it changes from year to year. Traditional television is being replaced by streaming media and VOD services (Video on Demand – video, television on demand). The demand for access to data is increasing. This demand is much greater than that for TV channels. Therefore, on May 17, 2017, the European Parliament and the Council issued a Decision on the use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band in the European Union. Under which EU were obliged to make the 700 MHz band available for broadband services by 30 June 2020 or, where justified, by 30 June 2022 at the latest. To use the limited frequency range as efficiently as possible, it was decided to use a more efficient solution than the DVB-T standard, namely its second-generation DVB-T2. Especially since 2010, DVB-T2 receivers have been installed in TV sets, set-top boxes, and headends. In the meantime, even more, efficient data compression methods than MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 (H.264) have been developed. H.265 compression, i.e. HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) increases the data compression twice as compared to H.264 / MPEG-4 while maintaining the same image quality. It supports resolutions up to 8192 × 4320, which makes it a codec capable of compressing Ultra HD 4K channels.
The H.265 HEVC codec is not compatible with the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 codecs.
The first devices for receiving channels in H.265 compression appeared on the market in 2014. However, there were only a few devices, mainly luxury ones, e.g. SONY X95B series TV sets. Although the manufacturer officially admits that only the 2017 version of the software fully guarantees compliance with the new compression standard. The first hotel TV sets that supported the H.265 HEVC codec were models from the turn of 2016/2017. Although DVB-T2 receivers have been available for several years, it is only TVs manufactured after 2017 that will be able to receive digital terrestrial TV from the middle of next year. But not for sure. Even in 2019, many manufacturers and distributors had TV sets that already received DVB-T2 signals, but only compressed in the MPEG-2 / MPEG-4 standard. As a result, the TV will search for channels and create a list. However, there will be no picture, and only the channel’s audio track will be received, provided it is MPEG-standard. It can be worse with the AC4 standard. Then it will be dark and deaf. Many producers and distributors used a trace informational campaign about the expected changes and, under the guise of “Super Promotion”, got rid of TV sets that did not meet the new requirements from their warehouses. Anyway, it was only in December 2019 that the then Ministry of Digitization published a regulation specifying the technical requirements of TV sets that can be sold in Poland. For comparison. The Czechs, our southern neighbors, started testing DVB-T2 with H.265 HEVC compression in 2016. For the past two years, parallel DVB-T and HEVC transmissions have been broadcast in the so-called “transitional network” DVB-T2. The tests covered the whole country. Last year, DVB-T transmitters were switched off. Despite a very well-conducted information campaign and excellent organization, many hotels in the Czech Republic were completely surprised and unprepared for such a change. Instead of Czech TV channels, guests were given a black screen. In Poland, a few months before the change, local DVB-T2 tests are carried out in only a few cities.
Will hotel TVs bought recently, 3-4 years ago, receive terrestrial TV channels after changing the method of broadcasting? Especially since many facilities base their TV offer only on terrestrial TV?
The first quite significant indication that the new is coming was the so-called refarming, i.e. changing the frequencies on which TV channels have been broadcast so far. The action was carried out to free the band above 700MHz. This band is intended for 5G networks and data transmission. At the beginning of June last year, the frequencies of the terrestrial multiplexes were changed. Headends and TV sets had to be reprogrammed with new parameters. The introduction of further changes will start in March next year. The changes will end before the end of June 2022 and will consist of switching off the DVB-T MPEG-4 transmitters and replacing them with HEVC DVB-T2 transmitters.
If the change concerned only the method of broadcasting, and the TV sets did not have DVB-T2 receivers, the conversion of such a signal to the DVB-T standard would not be a technical problem, nor would it require large financial outlays. Unfortunately, as the way TV channels are sent changes, the way it is compressed also changes. And the device that decompresses the transmitted image data is the end device, ie… the TV set. The situation is a bit like turning off the analog signal from 2013. The MPEG-4 codec was used to compress, or “pack” the data, and there were already many TV sets with a digital DVB-T receiver on the market. However, quite a large percentage of digital TV sets were adapted to receive channels compressed with the MPEG-2 codec. These TV sets, due to the more attractive price, came from Western European markets, where the DVB-T MPEG-2 standard was adopted due to the earlier implementation of digital television. Such a standard was in force, among others in Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Many hotels were equipped with just such receivers. And as long as DVB-T test broadcasts were carried out, these TV sets worked without problems. Test transmissions were carried out using MPEG-2 compression. Also, analog transmission was also available. And the hotel TVs were doing very well.
After switching off the analog transmission and changing the digital codec to MPEG-4, TV sets with MPEG-2 stopped fulfilling their role. A black screen greeted the user. Only the speakers could hear the audio track from the TV programs. It was necessary to save the situation. The proverbial Kowalski with an M2 having one TV set quickly solved this problem. Purchase of a DVB-T / MPEG-4 “decoder” connected to the TV with an HDMI cable or often also an analog “SCART/PERITEL”.
Are you ready for the change of DVB-T2 HEVC H.265?
Hotels today face a similar challenge. Will the TV sets installed in the hotel receive terrestrial TV channels in a few months? What if you have to buy new TVs or drastically reduce the number of channels on offer? To meet the demand, we have created a search engine for TV sets available on the Polish market.
Check if your TV set is ready to change DVB-T2 H.265. HEVC. Many TV sets have a built-in DVB-T2 tuner. However, not all are compatible with H.265 HEVC compression.
Use our search engine
If you do not find the TV model installed in the hotel, use the form below and write to us. We will try to confirm whether it is really necessary to replace TV sets or we will propose other solutions.
IT engineer. Over twenty years in the hotel television industry. Currently, he advises hotels on television for hotels and Wi-Fi networks for guests. It works directly with leading manufacturers of devices dedicated to hotels.