The German media authorities have set up a tender for the operation of a nationwide DTT platform in DVB-T2/HEVC standard carrying commercial TV channels.

The platform which will make HD channels available on digital terrestrial airwaves in Germany for the first time covers three nationwide multiplexes. The licence contains the obligation to serve medium-sized towns in which currently only public TV channels can be received via DTT.

The tender will run from December 1, 2014 until January 30, 2015. The media authorities want to decide about the allocation of the capacity in March 2015. The licence will be issued for a 10-year period and can be extended for another 10 years.

The transition from the currently used DVB-T standard to successor system DVB-T2 will commence in June 2016 in urban areas with nationwide switchover to be completed by mid-2019.

Jürgen Brautmeier, head of the media authorities’ joint licencing and supervision commission ZAK, said that the tender was an important step in the development of digital television: “Around 10% of TV households in Germany currently use DTT. We want to not only maintain terrestrial broadcasting for viewers, but also make it more future-proof through the possibility of HD reception and a larger channel variety.”

Brautmeier explained that through the adoption of the new, more efficient transmission standard DVB-T2/HEVC, frequencies would be vacated which mobile network operators could subsequently use for the deployment of broadband services in particular in rural areas. The broadcast industry would thereby make an important contribution to closing the existing gaps in broadband penetration.

It’s considered to be certain in the industry that transmitter network operator Media Broadcast will submit an application for the operation of the DVB-T2 platform. The company recently launched a DVB-T2/HEVC trial in Berlin in conjunction with broadcasters, hardware manufacturers and industry associations to gain practical experience with the new transmission standard.

A further applicant might be ORS, the technical services subsidiary of Austrian public broadcaster ORF, which has been operating domestic DVB-T2 platform simpliTV since April 2013.

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have already affirmed that their whole channel lineup on DVB-T2 will remain unencrypted while the two large commercial TV groups RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 intend to offer the HD versions of their free-to-air TV channels encrypted and charge a subscription fee like it is already the case on cable, satellite and IPTV.