Sky italy on 13e move to dvs2 and hevc in autum



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Tel Aviv, Israel
An internal Sky press release, sent to the Retail & Service network and suppliers, had already anticipated some of the news regarding the satellite bouquet broadcast on Hotbird 13 ° East satellites since last autumn.

This is a restructuring of the frequencies and transmission standards that will impact on the reception of the channels both individually and, above all, in older centralized condominium systems that use IF-IF modules and old generation transmodulators, of the analog type with filters.

In practice, Sky has decided (finally) to abandon the old MPEG-2 DVB-S standards and switch to the more recent MPEG-4 DVB-S2 for most of the transponders occupied on Hotbird 13 ° East. If we exclude the frequencies shared with tivùsat and Mediaset, which host several free-to-air channels encoded in simulcrypt (Nagravision by tivùsat and Videoguard by Sky), the transponders that will be progressively converted into DVB-S2 MPEG-4 should be 10 (tp 57, 63, 66, 67, 68 , 95, 96, 98, 100 and 101) to which is added the eleventh at his disposal (tp 77 - 12,245 GHz H) which, however, is currently not used.

The remaining 2 Sky transponders (tp 58 - 11.881 GHz V and 62 - 11.958 GHz V), which currently host a dozen channels in SD format including Nat Geo, Sky Sport, History +1, Sky Uno +1, Sky Sport 24 and Sky Sport Uno / Arena / Serie A will remain in DVB-S MPEG-2, at least for a few more months to allow subscribers to "ferry" from the old to the new standard while minimizing inconvenience.

Although DVB-S2 HEVC decoders such as the Sky Q Platinum and Black are already available, Sky preferred to stop at the intermediate step, i.e. the MPEG-4, in order not to further complicate the work of the technicians who will have to adapt the centralized systems of condominiums, hotels and other community facilities.

The transition to DVB-S2 MPEG-4 will in fact put all old devices that only supported DVB-S and MPEG-2 out of the game. In practice, the “non-HD” Sky decoders (Skybox and MySky) will stop working, which will be replaced with the MySky HD / Sky Q Black, but above all the old analogue condominium units with SMATV IF-IF filters and the transmodulators.
Sky Q Black
Subscribers with an old Sky decoder with DVB-S MPEG-2 tuner are receiving the new Sky Q Black (MySky HD) needed to receive not only HD channels but also SD channels converted to DVB-S2 MPEG-4

The former must be made technically compatible with the DVB-S2 at the expense of the condominium, by replacing filters and modules with new specimens with typical bands of 46 MHz or in any case not less than 36 MHz. The transmodulators will be reconfigured due to the change of the transmission parameters (SR 29900 and FEC 3/4 like the other S2 from Sky) but the older models operating only in DVB-S MPEG-2 will have to be replaced with those of the new generation DVB-S2 MPEG-4.

Alternatively, Sky and its partners (Auriga, Emme Esse, Fracarro and others) recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to update the reception and distribution system by adopting new generation systems and technologies such as the dCSS, integrated in the LNB and multiswitch with the possibility of operating both in dynamic mode (for a maximum of 16 user bands for each output and as many decoders) and in static (passive) mode.

The latter is particularly interesting in the case of upgrading old IF-IF analog systems because it allows you to distribute, to an unlimited number of decoders and on a single coaxial cable, up to 30-32 transponders. In essence, the static mode transforms LNBs and multiswitches into real IF-IF control units with high versatility, reprogrammable at any time and often also remotely.

A possible alternative to the overhaul of the system is the use of Sky Q Fibra decoders that do not receive satellite channels but with a fiber internet connection.
Doubled capacity, unchanged video quality

There are several reasons that have pushed Sky to abandon the old DVB-S and MPEG-2 standards, adopted since the 90s at the dawn of digital satellite TV. The most obvious is the bandwidth savings that the DVB-S2 MPEG-4 combination guarantees for the same image and sound quality. If a single Sky satellite transponder with a 36 MHz bandwidth typically hosts 8 to 12 standard definition channels in DVB-S MPEG-2 format, the transition to S2 and MPEG-4 allows to significantly increase the capacity (+ 60-70%) with the same audio / video quality and services offered (mosaics, interactive content, etc.).

In practice, a DVB-S2 MPEG-4 transponder can therefore accommodate the same number of channels as two-three DVB-S MPEG-2 transponders. In this case Sky could keep the same current channels (net of any departures as happened recently with Disney Channel, NickTeen, MTV Rock, MTV Hits and others) and occupy a minimum of 3-4 transponders in place of the previous 10.

In fact, according to the latest internal Sky communications that we are aware of, there should be no transponder cut beyond the number 8 (11.355 GHz V) already off for a few weeks, probably due to previous agreements with Eutelsat. In this case, the existing channels will have more space available which will result in less compression and better video quality (in practice less squaring with fast moving scenes).

In the future, when Sky will be able to rationalize the spaces available to it on Hotbird, the "saved" transponders (up to a maximum of 6-7) will allow adding new channels in the systems based on new generation IF-IF systems, transmodulators, LNBs and multiswitches with dCSS technology in static mode.

If today it is difficult to satisfy all the condominiums or guests of a hotel because the transponders available are sufficient only for Sky and tivùsat, in the future it will also be possible to insert those free-to-air or encrypted broadcasters, Italian and foreign, which today are unfortunately excluded for lack of bandwidth.
Additional savings from cutting duplicate channels

Many channels of the Sky bouquet released in Standard Definition are the perfect copies ("downscaled" from 1,080i to 576i / p) of those also transmitted in HD. We refer, for example, to Sky Uno, Sky Sport 24, Sky Sport Uno, Sky Sport Arena, Sky Sport Serie A, Fox News, Nat Geo Wild, Sky Cinema Uno / Due / Family / etc. Given that the new decoders and switchboards essential for the transition to DVB-S2 MPEG-4 are already fully compatible with HD, it makes little sense to continue to transmit the same channel 2 times wasting 30% of bandwidth.

Downscaling from HD to SD and blocking the HDMI output to 480p / 576i video formats could be carried out directly on the decoder for those subscribers who are not interested in paying an extra for HD and settle for SD. Sky could also decide to abolish the paid HD option and to give high definition to all its customers, even for those channels that are currently only visible in SD (such as MTV Music and Nickelodeon). The lost revenue could be compensated by the savings in the rental fees of the transponders that are no longer needed.

Two other options on the table are those of maintaining some frequencies and spreading the HD channels on a greater number of transponders, so as to increase the bitrate and improve the audio / video quality (Super HD), or to launch new channels but in Ultra HD 4K like Sky Sport Uno 4K, Sky Cinema UHD and so on. By now 95% of the new generation televisions are only available in 4K format and users (especially the paying ones) are clamoring not only for Ultra HD content (such as the F1 and the Serie A cartel matches already offered by Sky) but also full-time channels of cinema, TV series and documentaries.
Do you still need the "timeshifted" versions?

wide band, part of the bouquet currently on the satellite, for example the SD or timeshifted channels, could transfer to the fiber and then disappear within 6-12 months. Hybrid fiber + satellite reception is already supported at hardware level by Sky Q, real multimedia gateways rather than simple decoders.

When the fiber networks have reached adequate coverage and speed (approximately not before 2030 for 100% of homes with at least 1 Gbps), it is not excluded that Sky can turn off most of the satellite frequencies, leaving only the channels on Hotbird " premium "and those in 4K (on a maximum of 2-3 transponders thanks to the HEVC) available to those users who live in areas unreachable by fiber, in practice rural areas with very few inhabitants and mountain refuges, but perfectly covered by satellites thanks to their ability to "rain" on 100% of the territory.

If, however, we consider that triple-digit growth rates are expected shortly for video streaming (it is no coincidence that it is called "the third internet revolution"), at the moment the most likely scenario is that of a hybrid fiber + satellite service , fully modular according to market trends and the demands of pay-TV users.
Channel Hopper

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Sounds like Sky UK on Astra 2 might follow in "due course"