As I haven’t been watching TV very closely as of late due to my excessively busy schedule, I hadn’t noticed that two relatively major things have happened in the Sydney Freeview space.
On 20th December 2015, our community TV station named TVS went off the air permanently due to the revocation of their broadcasting rights under the leadership of the then communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull. The idea was that community stations could just use the internet as a medium instead, although at the same time, the Liberals have crippled that too with an alternative NBN that’s yet to get any real solid traction or idea whether it’s going to be FTTN, FTTdp (which is so close to FTTP that they might as well do it, but they won’t due to their political agenda), and/or mixed with HFC and other technologies of various sorts with sketchy bit-rate commitments.
Given how shaky my ADSL2+ line has been of late, and my absolute dependence on the internet to be most productive, I have always wished for better speeds and better reliability, but as of yet, I’m still only on 9.1Mbit/s down and 1Mbit/s up on a good day. It’s not as bad as some others, but it could be a lot better, especially when you’re trying to upload >18Gb of high definition video to YouTube for some of my more recent postings.
As a result, the channel at 536.500Mhz is now vacant and quiet. The last UHF channel from the main Sydney transmitter has gone quiet, so all people tuning into Gore Hill will need is an antenna that covers about 174 – 230Mhz and they’ll be sweet. Likewise, those running home TV servers now need only five tuners to cover all channels. Maybe this channel will be re-used in the future for broadcasting trials, be it 4K H.265 video, 3D (again) or even DVB-T2 … I would love to see some innovation on the air.
This is still being broadcast today, along with a reshuffle of the Channel 7 bitrates. No statistical multiplexing was evidenced, however, the bitrate for 7mate and 7TWO have increased dramatically likely to cater for discerning viewers of the tennis.
The bit-rates were read off the mux graph quickly hence the lack of decimal precision, but it’s clear that the main service is now encoded at a much lower rate. The “New Channel” takes up about 941kbit/s of information rate, the audio being LATM encapsulated taking a multiplex rate of roughly 70kbit/s. On the whole, the null bit-rate fraction was observed to be less than 500kbit/s, which represents a more normal distribution to that seen in the previous major analysis.
At the moment, the new-channel slide is only in SD, and they have chosen to use MPEG-4 audio as well, but the audio channel appears to be silent for now. When the final re-organization happens, a similar result to Channel 9’s HD service is expected to appear, but we will see what choices are actually made. If they stick to HE-AACv2 audio, it may cause more compatibility problems than using the standard MPEG-1 or Australian DVB-T mandated AC-3.
Regardless, owners of older first-generation integrated TV tuner sets and external HD set top boxes will probably find they won’t be able to access the HD service fully when it launches, as the bitrate budget seems to mandate the use of H.264 compression.
We sit and wait to see when the change will happen. No firm date has been announced as of yet, however, it seems possible it will be in time for the Australian Open (18th January). Also judging from speculation, it seems that the whole foreign language service idea floated earlier last year might not come to fruition after all which is a bit sad.