HbbTV, the new interactive television

Source: http://www.hbbtv.org/

Digital television systems and, particularly, the different DVB standards for satellite, terrestrial and cable transmission are widely extended in Europe as well as in many countries of Africa, Asia and Oceania. In parallel to this, over the last years there has been a relevant increase in broadband connections at Home. The combination of these two facts implies the creation of an important potential market, with millions of users, for applications that integrate these two technologies.

Nowadays, there are Smart TVs, also called Hybrid TVs, equipped with Internet connection capability. However, this generation of devices has several drawbacks. One of these drawbacks is that each manufacturer uses its own set of technical specifications, causing that each application has to be adapted to the different commercial devices and leading to an evident market fragmentation. Another one is that there is no real integration of conventional broadcasting services, radio and TV programs, with internet services, remaining as two separate worlds.

Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) arises as a pan-European initiative that combines the delivery of content via both the broadcast channel as well as the broadband connection, offering to the consumers a wide range of interactive applications and services. Through an HbbTV receiver (the TV itself or a separate set-top box), users can access multiple services such as video on demand, interactive advertising, voting and quizzing on TV shows or T-commerce platforms, as some examples.

The HbbTV specifications are mainly based on previous standards, being a compendium of profiles of available technologies rather than a completely new technological development. By this way, it seeks greater market acceptance and, from the manufacturer’s point of view, development costs and Time-to-Market reduction.

HbbTV terminals must be able to connect to two different networks in parallel. On one hand is the broadcast channel, via which the terminal can receive regular television content as well as data and signaling information. On the other hand, broadband network connection will provide a return channel in order to offer a wide range of interactive applications to the user. But even if the terminal is not connected to the Internet, the user can access other services transmitted through the broadcast channel in a similar way to the conventional teletext.

Gradiant, from its wide experience in the DVB standard family, follows with interest the evolution of this standard and its general acceptance.