Radiocommunication


ITU-R Study Group 11:

a distinguished history

In 1983, the CCIR received an "Emmy" for the development of a common world standard for digital television studios




For a little over half a century, Study Group 11 of ITU's Radiocommunication Sector has been making history with the production of authoritative recommendations (standards) and the preparation of the technical basis for several ITU conferences. As the international forum for broadcasting activities, the study group has dealt with television broadcasting services from end-to-end.

Even amid the difficult conditions of a multitude of television technologies at different technical levels and economic capabilities of individual countries, the study group has been able to develop recommendations for television broadcasting which have received worldwide acceptance.

The last of these recommendations is the newly revised ITU-R BT.1306, which addresses "Error correction, data framing, modulation and emission methods for digital terrestrial television broadcasting".

We say "the last" with some nostalgia as the meeting (Geneva, 10-11 February), where this new version of BT.1306 was unanimously endorsed, marked the last gathering for Study Group 11, which is to merge with Study Group 10 as announced in December 1999.

First adopted in 1997, Recommendation BT.1306 brought together the common elements of systems A and B, originally developed in North America (ATSC Advanced Television Systems Committee) and in Europe (DVB-T digital video broadcasting-terrestrial), respectively.

As the Chairperson of Study Group 11, Mark Krivocheev (Russia), explains: "The revised BT.1306 now includes system C (ISDB-T integrated services digital broadcasting-terres-trial), developed recently by Japan to provide more features for digital terrestrial television broadcasting." It also includes an analysis of the environments when each of the modulation options of systems A, B and C may be most useful, making the new recommendation of the highest value for broadcasters wishing to implement such a new technology, particularly in developing countries.

When endorsing the new BT.1306 on 11 February 2000, Study Group 11 also agreed to seek the recommendation's adoption by correspondence. Formal approval is expected to follow soon, through consultation of ITU Member States.

Study Group 11 leaves behind a "legacy" of more than 154 recommendations.

The study group leaves behind a "legacy" of more than 154 recommendations




Why 21 is so symbolic for ITU-R Study Group 11, according to Mark Krivocheev

The figure 21 is not only a lucky number in the blackjack game. In our activity we have several times met this value, for example the concept of 6 + 7 + 8 = 21 concerning the use of existing radio channels for digital television.

The meeting of Task Group 11/4 in which we started the study of extra-high resolution imagery was held in the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Massachusetts Avenue on 21st Street in Washington, D.C. During the Malaga-Torremolinos Conference in 1992 (the 1 + 9 + 9 + 2 equals 21) the bandwidth allocated for HDTV broadcasting was, as you remember in the 21 GHz band. In HDTV (Recommendation 709) common image format (CIF) 1080 1920, adding these digits equals 21. Merging 10 and 11 also makes 21.

 
Flashback

Founded in Stockholm on 30 July 1948, during the Vth Plenary Assembly of what was then CCIR*, Study Group 11's first success story was the development, in 1949, of Recommendation 29. It was in this recommendation known as "Television standards" that the general requirements for television systems were formulated, including some requirements for colour television.

Given the study group's legacy, it would be unjust to analyse all its fifty-year achievements in a few lines. The good news is that Mr Krivocheev, who has chaired the study group since 1972, is writing a report that confirms the group's leadership in the field of international standardization of television broadcasting systems and technology. The report includes references to official documents of CCIR and Study Group 11, as well as his personal archive collected over many years.

As Mr Krivocheev put it to ITU News "The total volume of this report constitutes more than 21 large files. I hope to have enough strength to be able to complete this work after the World Radiocommunication Assembly in Istanbul (1-5 May 2000). This report can then be truly called International standardization of television broadcasting in the second half of the 20th century."

Speaking of the proposed merger, which should result into a new single study group on broadcasting, Mr Krivocheev recounts vividly: "On the same day (30 July 1948) that Study Group 11 was established, what was known then as Study Group 6 (Broadcasting) was renamed Study Group 10. So one can say that Study Groups 10 and 11 were born twins. May be this is one of the reasons why we are merging now. During this period, Study Group 10 has elected five Chairmen, while Study Group 11 has only elected two. Erik Esping was the first. I am the second. Erik was a remarkable man, who made a great contribution to the group's foundation and its activities." The merger will be decided by the World Radiocommunication Assembly in May.

 
* International Radio Consultative Committee.

Some historical highlights

Recommendation 601 became a part of history as a common world standard for digital television studios. In 1983 the CCIR received an Emmy, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Award of the United States, for the development of this standard.

In June 1999, a draft new version of Recommendation 709 was prepared and covers the requirements of high definition television (HDTV) broadcasting and the cinema industry. This has been a great success, and opens many doors. Academy award winner and film director George Lucas has announced that he plans to use electronic production equipment based on this ITU standard for his new movie in the "Star Wars" series. This may be a historic recommendation this millennium.

Study Group 11 was the first ITU body to become involved in the area of interactive television. In 1993, a new global approach to interactive television systems, aimed at mobilizing all possible communication facilities, primarily radio systems, for the establishment of return channels, was proposed. Worldwide interactivity calls for more than five billion return channels this greatly exceeds the world's telephone capacity. Discussions at Telecom Interactive 97, and more recently, Telecom 99 supported the initiative of Study Group 11, and showed that interactivity will be a dominant component in telecommunications.

Other achievements

 

Spectrum management

Bangalore ushers in new millennium for ITU-R

 



The astounding growth of radio-based services is putting tremendous pressure on ITU's Radiocommunication Sector to find innovative ways of coping with the demands on the scarce resource of spectrum and satellite orbits. This message was loud and clear in Bangalore (India), where ITU-R's Task Group 1/5 met from 6 to 14 January 2000. The meeting, which has taken on some historic importance as the first ITU-R event in the new millennium, was hosted by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on behalf of the Administration of India. The event was chaired by Mohan S. Dhamrait (United Kingdom) and attracted some 80 delegates from the Union's constituents.

In recent times, Task Group 1/5 has assumed significant importance in its studies on technical issues regarding unwanted (spurious and out-of-band) emissions from transmitters operating in space stations.

The Task Group's ongoing studies should result in the adoption of stringent technical parameters and standards that can provide protection to safety services, radio astronomy and space services against harmful interference and improve the efficiency of spectrum utilization.

Opening the Bangalore meeting, ISRO Chairman K. Kasturirangan declared: "With the tremendous growth in telecommunications, the world has really become a global village. The increased demand for communication services makes it imperative to use the limited spectrum resource judiciously."

Wireless adviser to the Government of India and Chairperson of ITU's Radio Regulations Board (RRB), Ravindra N. Agarwal said: "The new millennium is going to witness more and more new technologies at a much faster rate and there is going to be convergence of technologies. Spectrum sharing and co-existence will be key themes for the future use of the spectrum."

Task Group 1/5 has carried out many studies in this field. Results of the Bangalore meeting will be of great value to the forthcoming World Radiocommunication Conference to be held in Istanbul from 8 May to 2 June 2000, as well as to future conferences which will lay the foundation for technological innovations in this new millennium.

For more details on the results of the Bangalore meeting, please contact: "Albert Nalbandian, Counsellor ITU-R. Tel.: +41 22 730 5815. E-mail: albert.nalbandian@itu.int".

 

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