Phasing out DTT: How Telia did it using LTE

Author: Damien Lucas, Co-founder and CTO

The mystery European operator that has been phasing out DTT (Digital Terrestrial TV) services is… Telia Lietuva.

I think we’ll be seeing more operators phasing out DTT. Perhaps some of them will even go OTT over LTE, just like Telia Lietuva.

But why do I think this?

Phasing out DTT – OTT video over LTE: The drivers for change

First, because operators are increasingly disengaging from DTT and Direct To Home (DTH). These legacy technologies come from the days when users always watched shows on TV, and always at a fixed time. They do not deliver the flexibility that users want today.

Second, because the 700 MHz frequency range could deliver much more value if used for LTE rather than DTT. In many countries, this frequency range is being freed from DTT video services in order to carry LTE. So the trend is to cover most, or even all, rural areas with LTE in the short term. This is already happening in many countries – including France, Switzerland, Argentina… and Lithuania.

And third, because delivering video over LTE gives everyone more flexibility. LTE can carry both Internet and video services – which viewers can choose when to view, and on which screen.

OTT over LTE: Dream or reality?

To shift from DTT to LTE, and offer all the convenience of next-generation TV – including ultra-high definition and ultra-low latency – you’ll need:

  • An encoder that enables both high resolution and ultra-low latency
  • An origin/packager that provides both live and near-live services
  • An affordable storage technology to store peta-bytes of  non-linear services
  • A CDN to ensure the smooth scalability of the video service.

We know that in theory, it’s possible to do a complete migration from DTT to OTT over LTE. But in practice, can you do this on a mass scale, while keeping prices low, offering high-quality video, and still staying in business?

Yes. At least one company has done it, in a country where subscribers were used to spending only €7/month for their TV service. Here is the result.

Phasing out DTT by going OTT over LTE resulted in this happy farmer and happy cow!

Phasing out DTT by going OTT over LTE resulted in this happy farmer and happy cow!

Thanks to Anevia’s technologies (the Genova encoder, the NEA/DVR origin/packager, Embedded Distributed Storage (EDS), and NEA-CDN), Telia Lietuva’s last pay-TV DVB-T transmitter in Lithuania was dismantled in September 2018. All its Lithuanian customers migrated to TV over LTE – making Telia Lietuva the first European telco to switch off DTT and go to full OTT.

The result is a bit more joy in the life of farmers living in remote rural areas. Before, if their favourite TV show aired when the cows needed attention, they missed it. Now, they can give their cows the attention they need without missing their favourite TV shows.

And with subscription rates having more than doubled to €15/month, they’ve already started spreading their joy to the cable operators.

 

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