Researchers in Bristol have worked out a way to reduce the energy used to broadcast television by a third.

The engineers at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Communications (CDT) used techniques from mobile phone transmissions to develop a spatially adaptive broadcast system where the output power can be reduced by up to 35 per cent, reducing carbon emissions and saving money.

Mobile phones constantly change their transmit power based on the user’s location and distance to the base station, and this can increase the energy efficiency and battery life of the handset. This system allows the broadcaster to adapt the geographical coverage from the transmitter based on what is actually happening in real-time to the transmissions.

“Our work is about exploiting the benefits of digital broadcast TV to deliver improved energy efficiency”


With digital broadcasts, network planners have to assume the worst-case scenario for broadcast, because if signal strength drops below the operational limit then no reception can be achieved. Giving them live access to the received signal levels at the user’s premises allows the entire system to adapt and be made significantly more energy efficient.

The work helped to show that internet-enabled TV devices could be used to relay signal strength information back to the broadcaster in order to improve energy efficiency, and also showed that broadcasters could maintain the same level of service with much less electricity.

“Digital broadcasting is more energy efficient than analogue broadcasting, and following digital switch over, digital broadcast towers now use less electricity than their analogue equivalents. Our work is about exploiting the benefits of digital broadcast TV to deliver improved energy efficiency,” said Dr Peter Bagot, Research Associate in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering who led the research.

The research made use of the latest cellular test and simulation equipment in the department. You can see more in the video below:


“The hardware-in-the-loop laboratory demonstration using our Keysight F8 channel emulators, funded through Bristol’s EPSRC experimental equipment grant, provides an excellent proof of concept for this energy efficient technology,” said Professor Andrew Nix, Dean of Engineering and Head of the Communications Systems and Networks Research Group.

You can see more at the CDT in Bristol website or by reading the paper about the research here: ‘Spatially adaptive TV broadcast system: hardware in the loop operational analysis’ by Peter, Bagot, Mark Beach, Andrew Nix, Joe McGeehan and John Boyer in IEEE Transactions on Broadcasting.