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Digital Television

Interactive Digital TV.
Interactive Digital TV is the service provided on a television which requires the viewer to take an active role and communicate via the remote control unit or remote keyboard. This is quite distinct from the more passive role of watching broadcast television programming content, which can be transmitted using either analogue or digital signals. However, there is still much confusion over the term 'Digital TV', which is now commonly used to refer to Interactive Digital TV rather than just the digital broadcasting of television programmes.

Interactive Digital TV provides an opportunity for companies to reach their customers at home, at any time through an easy-to-use, reliable device. The following are examples of services already being delivered to customers:

¤ Electronic Mail
¤ Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)
¤ Home Shopping
¤ Home Banking
¤ Enhanced TV Programmes
¤ Interactive Advertisements
¤ Electronic Voting / Audience Participation
¤ Personalised News
¤ Video On Demand.

The above list is far from comprehensive but it does, however, identify the most prominent applications in use.

There are two broad strategies to developing an Interactive Digital TV offering:

¤ build an interactive site in a TV 'mall'. The site would be accessible from the service operators portal site, through links from interactive adverts or through banner adverts in other TV sites

¤ lease and brand a TV channel, with an associated interactive site. This is an expensive and risky route, but it allows companies to reach customers in new ways and can potentially turn into a valuable portal if the TV programming successfully draws in valuable audience segments.

However, before embarking on an investment in Interactive Digital TV there are a number of questions that an organisation should answer:

¤ what is the main driver for its use? Is it to reduce costs by off-loading routine questions and transactions from call centres? Is it to get an early presence to enhance the brand? Is it to catch up with the competition? Is it to generate warm leads that can be put through to the call centre?

¤ what are the cost benefits of introducing this channel? Is there a sound business case? Will it just increase the number of transactions per customer? Will it be yet another channel to administer?

¤ what are the other implications associated with Interactive Digital TV? Will the lack of human contact alienate some customers? Will the opportunity to cross-sell be lost? Will your products compare badly to others available through Interactive Digital TV (it is easier to compare products on the screen than ring up several call centres or visit several shops/branches)? Will customers demand this channel? What functionality will be provided - information, quotations, transactions? What are the security implications?

¤ how should Interactive Digital TV be integrated with other delivery channels? Can it be a discrete, stand-alone offering? Should there be tight integration with the call centre for easy escalation to a human operator?

¤ how best can the service be implemented? Should delivery be phased? What functions are most important for the first release? Should integration with other channels be implemented straight away?

Associated Technologies
Digital television can be delivered through four main delivery mechanisms:

¤ Terrestrial signals are broadcast from a television mast and picked up by households through a normal TV aerial

¤ Satellite signals are uploaded to a satellite in geostationary orbit which then re-broadcasts the signals to Earth and are picked up by satellite dishes on the exterior of receiving homes

¤ Cable signals are broadcast down a cable network root and branch structure arriving at a single household

¤ ADSL Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line signals are sent via the local loop of a normal telephone line into a specified household (i.e. it is not broadcast). This is enabled by a special modem at the local exchange which injects the high bandwidth data stream and extracts any return signal.

Full interactivity occurs when the viewers responses are sent back to the service provider, providing full two-way communication in a similar way to the Internet. As satellite and terrestrial are inherently one-way broadcast mediums, dial-up via the telephone line is often used for the return path. Cable and ADSL return paths are integrated in the cable and are constantly connected (they act as IP networks) and are thus much faster and perceived as being far more interactive.

If you are interested in obtaining more information, please contact us.

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