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TV upgrade for the UK

Freeview channels move into the cloud in landmark move from Digital 3&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 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.

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.

Faisal Mahomed
Director, BT Media and Broadcast & Portfolio Businesses

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.

Greg Bensberg MBE
Managing Director, Digital 3&4 Limited

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