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1992: Pioneers in digital TV
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Published March 8, 2012

Europe 1992: The term “HDTV” was on the lips of everyone in TV companies and the electronics industry. Meanwhile, Norwegian scientyists were finding a smart way to transmit the new images via the terrestrial network.

Project manager Vidar Ringset has played a central role in SINTEF’s digital TV technology efforts. Here he fronts the SINTEF group that in 1997 supplied some of the transmission equipment to Sweden’s test network for digital TV transmitted over the terrestrial network. Photo: SINTEF / Jens Søraa

The terrestrial network – or “ground net” – is the good, old-fashioned distribution channel for TV signals, which are transmitted via masts on mountain peaks. This route will still be needed in the future in sparsely populated areas.

The early 1990s witnessed an intensive hunt for the best way of distributing HDTV (high-definition TV) via such networks.


From belief in analogue signals…

The major European television companies put large sums into the development of analogue transmission technologies.

However, at a trade fair in Amsterdam, SINTEF demonstrated an alternative system to the world; i.e. the actual evidence that the problem can also be solved by digital means – thus saving a great deal of bandwidth in the airwaves.


… to digital technology

 In 1997, SINTEF’s solution laid the foundations of the joint European standard that set out how digital TV signals were to be tranmitted via the terrestrial network.

David had beaten Goliath, in the process reducing investment costs for both TV viewers and society as a whole.


Fewer transmitters and more room in the airwaves

Thanks to SINTEF’s technology, Norway can manage with fewer digital transmitters than competing solutions would have required.

SINTEF’s technology also made room for more channels in the ether than other digital solutions, a welcome result in densely populated regions of Europe, where the available spectrum of radio-frequencies has long been fully occupied.