New digital terrestrial: what really changes with DVB T2

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Is missing less than a month at the start of the “switch off“to the new digital terrestrial: the October 20 RAI e Mediaset will change coding to the first channels, passing from the current Mpeg-2 to theMpeg-4. This is only the first move: the definitive transition to second generation digital terrestrial (DVB-T2) will in fact be completed only in January 2023.

However, as early as October many users will be able to have problems seeing channels that will change coding and will be only the first of a long series: in two years all broadcasters will broadcast a TV signal encoded with the new standard HEVC Main10/H.265, which is different from MPEG-4 which arrives in October. THE technological leaps, so, will be two and not one and the consequences of the first technical change will be different with respect to the second. This is why there is so much confusion about second generation DTT and why it needs to be done clarity.

Digital terrestrial: which happens in October 2021

The first step of the switch off will occur on October 20, 2021, when the first RAI and Mediaset channels will change encoding: from the current Mpeg-2 to the future Mpeg-4. The channels concerned are these (but more will be added soon):

  • Rai 4
  • Rai 5
  • Rai Movie
  • Rai Yoyo
  • Rai Sport+ HD
  • Rai History
  • Rai Gulp
  • Rai Premium
  • Rai School
  • Boing Plus
  • Italy 2
  • Radio 105
  • R101 TV
  • TGCom24
  • Virgin Radio TV

All these channels can only be tuned by TVs or decoders compatible with MPEG-4otherwise we will get a black screen. Anyone who has a compatible TV, however, will have to retune these channels or he won’t see them again.

Digital terrestrial: which happens in January 2023

The second step switch off technician will take place on January 1, 2023, when the broadcasters will begin to change encoding again: from Mpeg-4 to HEVC Main10, also known as H.265.

The new government roadmap does not set precise dates for the completion of the switch off and the speed with which the switch to HEVC will take place will probably be determined by the number of Compatible TVs with this standard present in the homes of Italians.

Even if a TV is compatible with the MPEG-4, in fact, it is not certain that it is also compatible with the HEVC: they are two different standards, which require different electronic components within the television.

Digital terrestrial: do we need to change the TV?

All recent TVs, in theory all those sold since 22 December 2018 onwards, they are compatible with both the MPEG-4 and the HEVC and, therefore, should not cause problems either in October 2021 or in January 2023. The problem is that, not too rarely, in electronics stores and in e -commerce there are very old models that are passed off as compatible with DVB-T2 but they are not really.

To tell the truth, this has mostly happened in recent years but it is possible that someone today has one at home TV that he believes compatible and that, on the other hand, it is not at all. Fortunately, there are test channels: to find out if the TV (or the external decoder) will pass the MPeg-4 test on October 20, 2021 just try to watch the channel RAI 1 HD (501).

This channel is encoded in Mpeg-4: if the TV displays it without problems, then we are ready for the passage of the October 20. If it doesn’t show it, then it’s best to go and buy a new TV or a new decoder because, within a few months, all broadcasters will switch to MPEG-4 and cannot be viewed on that equipment.

To understand if the TV will also be ready a January 2023instead, you need to go to the channels 100 or 200: if we can see the message “Test HEVC Main10“, Then our equipment will have no problems. Otherwise, again, we will have to buy a new TV or a new decoder.

Smart TV, 4K and DVB-T2: what you need to know

For several years now, televisions have become Smart TV, i.e. smart, internet-connected TVs, which can run apps such as smartphones. How does this affect the transition to DVB-T2? Those who have a Smart TV can rest assured?

The answer is no: the smart part of a TV has nothing to do with its ability to receive and process the second generation digital terrestrial signal. There are, for example, old Smart TVs that are able to process the signal encoded in Mpeg-4, but not the one encoded in HEVC Main10. They will therefore do well in October 2021, but not in January 2023.

Analogous speech for the resolution: Today there are only TVs with screens on the market HD (1.280 x 720 pixel, o 720p), Full HD (1.920 x 1.080 pixel, o 1080p) o 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels, or UHD).

The DVB-T2 standard requires a minimum HD resolution, but many broadcasters will broadcast in Full HD or even 4K. To watch Full HD or 4K channels at the highest possible quality, therefore, it will be necessary to have a TV with these resolutions.

The fact that a TV is HD or Full HD, however, does not guarantee that it is compatible with the HEVC that is triggered in January 2023, while it is certain that it is compatible with the MPeg-4 that is triggered in October 2021: all HD and Full HD channels, in fact, they are today codificati in Mpeg-4 therefore the TV manufacturer had to insert the electronics necessary to decode these channels into the model.

For what concern 4Kfinally, in theory, the same argument as with HD could be valid. But in practice it is very unlikely that a 4K TV will not be able to decode the HEVC Main10 signal, because 4K TVs have only arrived on the Italian market very recently. Unless it’s one of the very first models of 4K TVs, perhaps imported from foreign markets, we should therefore rest assured both in October 2021 and in January 2023.

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