OT: HDTV’s and dutch digital tv subscription options

This is not really an on topic post for bloggingabout.net so hence the OT: in the title in usenet style formatting.


Lets say you have a nice large screen that is able to display 1080p content. The analogue signals are ‘only’ PAL (720x576i@50Hz) so now you see all those low resolution details on your beautifull HD screen. This is not what you want thus you go searching for digital providers. There are four types in the Netherlands:
 – Your cable providers digital system (digital cable, DVB-C)
 – Your ISP video-ip service (in Netherlands only ADSL)
 – Canal digitaal (digital satelite, DVB-S)
 – Digitenne (digital air, DVB-T)

We have a PAL signal in the Netherlands which corresponds to the previous 720x576i@50Hz (SDTV). HD signals should be one of the following:
– 1920 x 1080 progressive @ 24/25/30Hz (Full HDTV)
– 1920 x 1080 interlaced @ 50Hz/60Hz
– 1280 x 720 progressing @ 24/25/30Hz

All HDTV resolutions above are in 16:9 but PAL standard is 4:3. This is where it gets interesting! The dutch RTL group (RTL4/5/7) have said that they will go to the 16:9 factor for all of their programs in the near future. But the cable providers will send this signal in 4:3! This will result in a 720x576i@50Hz signal that will only use 720×432 pixels! So a resolution that is even worse then NTSC (720×480@60Hz) while PAL is superioir over NTSC quality because of the extra 92 scanlines and 50Hz frequency because the motion pictures use 24fps for their recordings. Digital providers will use this to say “hey our digital channels offer superiour quality over analogue channels with 16:9 channels!”. This because digital SDTV uses the full 720×576 resolution for 16:9 channels in the same way as DVD’s. Most PAL DVD’s are mpeg2 streams in 720×576@25Hz where the original factor of the movie is

Digital cable (DVB-C)
The cable provider in Rotterdam is offering digital television. You
would expect that the quality of those digital channels would atleast
be the same as the analogue ones right? This is not the current
situation. The bitrate for most channels is that low that you see all
sorts of compression artifacts on screen. This is because the allocated bandwith on the cable is too low to have enough bandwidth for all channels.

But lets take a look at the channels that you can receive by
subscribing to a extra channel pack. The subscription costs some
additional money so I would assume that I would get high bitrates for
these channels then. Obviously the anwser is no 🙁 The quality is even
worse! It almost looks like the video quality of YouTube posts which is
rather poor to say the least.

But what is even worse is that the digital channels arent HD 1080i/p! Not even HDTV 720p but just SDTV! So bye bye UPC!

Some dutch ADSL providers (KPN, Planet and XS4ALL) have a video over op service (mine tv). This service is just SDTV and I cannot find any information about upgrading this service to HDTV specifications. SDTV requires a bandwidth of only 1.5-3mbps. Which most ADSL subscribers have. The problem with this service is that the videostream is send when it is needed thus you do not receive all channels simultaniously like satellite or cable. Ipv4 is also not really suitable for this kind of network traffic. Ipv4 has multicast support but not in the way that ipv6 has. It amazes me not one dutch ISP supplies native ipv6. Full HDTV is possible with ADSL2+ but have have a serious with bandwith if you would want to record one channel and view another.

Digital satelite (DVB-S)
So lets take a look at ‘Canal digitaal’. I discovered after some browsing that most channels that UPC digital cable provides are bitcopied streams from ‘Canal digitaal’. They have an agreement. But most forums say that ‘Canal digitaal’ provides better quality. It seems that some channels are re-encoded to a lower bitrate for the cable networks available bandwidth.

Digital air (DVB-T)
Then the last digital system that is available here. Digitenne by KPN. This system is currently not even worth mentioning. Quality is not on par with good cable and worse then digital cable and probably is about the same in quality as the current video-ip services.

So I was wondering. Why is it that these providers don’t have good digital channels (dutch and foreign)? It seems that almost none of the mainstream channels here is digital thus it is currently not interesting to ‘go digital’ as the current ‘Canal digitaal’s’ slogan is.

You can see how many channels are in HD digital video and/or in AC3 (Dolby Digital) at King of sat.

Help! I’ve been tagged by Edward ;-)

I was hoping that I wouldn’t get tagged because that would mean I would have to think about what to write. But this tagging thingie is really going fast and Edward passed on the tag! So here it goes!

  • My mom gave me a MSX2 HB-F9P. It was a MSX2 but it lacked a diskdrive. I was 10 years old I think and started programming quite soon after purchase. This was because MSX magazine had all those nice listings with funny applications.

    My first application was ‘Testbeeld’ which drawed the screen showed to dutch users when the dutch television didn’t aired programs. Then I wanted to create a game and it was a pacman clone. I got a Amiga500 with kickstart 1.2 after my MSX2, an Amiga HDTV. This period still gives me nostalgic feelings. It was where I got obsessed by the graphical powers of the Amiga that were showed in all kinds of demos. Its the period where I created my first c application in SAS. But I didn’t really liked it. I preferred Amos Pro which has really easy and I created all sorts of nice graphical effects. It was on the PC platform were I really learned programming by challenging Dennis at school with who made the best ‘calculator’ with all kinds of bells and whistles that did not really had anything to do with the programming assignment that our teacher gave us. This is where I learned programming in Pascal, x86 assembler and c++. By the way.. I still have some MSX(2) computers at home to play classics.

  • I have an Yamaha YZF-R1 ’02 and I must be honest that I sometimes ride like a mad men. I get a real kick out of it and am obsessed with accelleration and manouverability of a sportsbike. I like stunting a bit like doing quite good wheelies and rolling burn-outs but my stoppies arent that good because I’m afraid that I will fall and crash my bike.
  • I play volleyball and like the team spirit and friendship that it brings. My length is 1.98 and that gives good advantages in this sport ;). I also try to keep in shape and walk, cycle and run a lot. I will attend the marathon of Rotterdam if my running condition will get somewhat better. I will do the half marathon then.
  • My current life still allows me to do go out on a frequent basis. I like to go to clubs, concerts, holidays, the beach, saunas, karting, scuba diving, (movie) theaters, bars (to play pool) and play poker (with whisky and sigars). As long as it is with some good friends and have some fun. My preferred drinks are whisky, beer, tequila and martini.
  • I life in Rotterdam / The Netherlands which is a quite a big city in Holland which is heavily inspired by the german luftwaffe in WO-II.
  • I currently don’t have a girlfriend and I don’t have any kids. My dad lives in the Czech Republic, my sister lives in San Francisco and my mother (unfortunately) passed a way some years ago. So I don’t see family members that often. So I have loads of sparetime to do all kinds of activities. I also like reading books especially sciencefiction and thriller related.

I would like to tag : Frank Bakker, Erno de Weerd and Guido van Loon. All other persons that I know in real life or/and have a blog that I read frequently (Dennis, Frans, Edward) are already tagged. I would like to tag more IT friends but they don’t have blogs 😉

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