TV upgrade for the UK: Freeview channels move into the cloud in landmark move from D3&4 and BT
- ITV and Channel 4’s terrestrial Freeview channels move to cloud processing, and away from legacy hardware – serving 18 million UK viewers with regionalised TV programmes
- Move to process Freeview channels via BT’s new smart broadcast network will boost efficiency, reduce energy consumption, cut costs and enhance flexibility
- Investment digitises broadcast infrastructure, with no interruption for the millions who watch Freeview TV
BT and Digital 3&4 (D3&4) have today announced that ITV and Channel 4’s terrestrial Freeview channels have moved to cloud-based processing, in a major step forward for the television industry.
The multi-million-pound contract between BT and D3&4 (a joint venture company established by ITV and Channel 4) has seen BT switch on start-to-finish cloud processing for regionalised TV content across all of D3&4’s Freeview channels – ready for distribution to 28 regions across the UK. The development marks a landmark move away from legacy hardware to a smart broadcast network.
The benefits of processing digital terrestrial TV via the cloud include improving overall operational efficiency, cutting costs, lowering energy consumption, and enhancing flexibility for both production and distribution. This is the first time that cloud processing of digital terrestrial TV channels has been completed on this scale.
The project has been made possible through BT Media and Broadcast’s new smart broadcast network, Vena – which enables broadcasters to benefit from applications that sit on top of a high-grade software-defined media network. Dubbed the “future of broadcasting”, processing Freeview channels through Vena simplifies content production and distribution for the broadcast industry.
D3&4 is now using Vena to deliver digital coding and multiplexing, essentially combining multiple content streams into one before distribution regionally. This means taking content from six playout centres and distributing it to nations and regions across the UK securely and reliably, via two of BT’s resilient datacentres. In addition, BT is providing a full end-to-end, round-the-clock monitoring service from its International Media Operations Centre.
The new network also leverages Ateme’s virtualised software video processing and delivery solutions, which bring a new level of flexibility, evolving to meet future needs and offering built-in resilience. It’s a partnership that Ateme and BT will continue to strengthen.
Faisal Mahomed, Director of BT Media and Broadcast & Portfolio Businesses, said: “This launch marks a major development for the TV industry as a whole. It will offer more possibilities for broadcasters to connect and interact with their audiences. We have seen remarkable innovation and collaboration across BT, D3&4 and our partner Ateme to get to this point.
“The service, built on Vena, is only the start of what’s possible on BT’s smart broadcast network – as we continue to drive digitisation, and to innovate solutions to support TV delivery in the UK and across the globe.”
Greg Bensberg MBE, Managing Director at Digital 3&4 Limited, said: “Our partnership with BT has enabled us to take a giant leap forward in delivering Freeview TV for 18 million regular viewers across the UK. This was a challenging project that required meticulous planning and execution, and we're proud to have worked with a company that shares our passion for innovation and excellence. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with BT and driving the future of broadcasting in the UK.”
BT Group is the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications and related secure digital products, solutions and services. We also provide managed telecommunications, security and network and IT infrastructure services to customers across 180 countries.
BT Group consists of three customer-facing units: Consumer serves individuals and families in the UK; BT Business* covers companies and public services in the UK and internationally; Openreach is an independently governed, wholly owned subsidiary wholesaling fixed access infrastructure services to its customers - over 650 communication providers across the UK.
British Telecommunications plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
For more information, visit www.bt.com/about
*BT Business was formed on 1 January 2023 from the combination of the former Enterprise and Global units. It will commence reporting as a single unit from 1 April 2023, with pro forma reporting information to be produced ahead of BT Group’s Q1 FY24 results.