The WorldDAB Interoperability Workshop has been organised at the IRT over recent years and has seen growing success. We sat down with Mathias Coinchon, Senior Project Manager, Media Technology & Innovation, European Broadcasting Union and Vice President, WorldDAB Technical Committee to find out about this year’s event which took place at IRT in Munich on 25 November.
What types of members were present?
This event was mainly attended by receiver and chip manufacturers, and integrators building receiving equipment for the car or home. There were also broadcasters who came with snapshots of their domestic transmissions to test on receivers. Experts from the WorldDAB Technical Committee were present with test transmissions to verify particular use cases and to try the latest additions to the specifications. Finally, headend equipment manufacturers and operators attended to make sure their transmission systems are compatible.
What were the main issues that came up?
There were no major problems, but lots of small issues. In general, all receivers can decode DAB/DAB+ services, but when it comes to “special” configurations then incompatibilities can arise.
This is the case, for example, with unusual characters for the labels and dynamic text. In the past some receivers could not display these characters. The new EBU Latin character set tries to address this by providing a larger set of characters, especially accented or special characters for Eastern European countries. Another typical case is with service following. In countries with lots of DAB services, spread around many regional and national multiplexes, the continuity of listening while on the move is crucial. It needs to be correctly signalled on the transmission side and correctly interpreted on the receiving side, otherwise listeners may lose the service. The WorldDAB Technical Committee authored a Rules of Implementation document (ETSI TS 103 176) some years ago, and this Interoperability Event was an opportunity to verify that it works.
Finally, new functionalities that are added to the DAB specification can be verified at this event. This year we could see the first receiver implementation of “station logo” according to new Service and Programme Information specification (ETSI TS 102 818, TS 102 371). Early implementation of service list management was also tested although that specification is yet to be finalised.
What do you think people will take away from the event?
This event offers experts and developers from industry the opportunity to meet with broadcasters and troubleshoot issues. Misinterpretation of standards leading to a lack of inter-operability is not so common but it is almost inevitable. The WorldDAB ETI library has been a first initiative to allow manufacturers to test their implementations without having to travel to every country where services are broadcast. This Interoperability Workshop goes further by providing an exchange between the communities and real world cases. This truly helps to make broadcast and receiver platforms work in harmony. In fact, this event should be a must-go for receiver manufacturer members of WorldDAB.
What was the highlight of the event?
Many things were tested in parallel, so it’s hard to pick just one thing. However, for me, the fact that the logo that Norweigan public broadcaster NRK was broadcasting could be displayed on the test Audi car dashboard was a nice surprise, probably the first real-world implementation of the new Service and Programme Information (SPI) specification.
Will there be another one next year?
Definitely yes! This year’s event was a huge success and IRT are already looking to host the event again next year. All members are welcome to make suggestions on how to make this event even better in 2016.