Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ABS-CBN News: Full migration to digital TV completed in 10 years–NTC

MANILA, Philippines - Full migration to digital television in the country will take place 10 years from now, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has said. 
“Another bold stride the NTC has taken this year was to commence the transition of the broadcast industry from analog to digital. The NTC estimates full migration from analog to digital tv technology within the next 5-10 years,” the regulator said in its yearend report. 
The NTC has now been given the go-ahead by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) to convene a technical working group for the purpose of drafting the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) for digital TV. The TWG will be composed of members from the broadcast industry and other stakeholders such as the government, suppliers and consumers. 
In June of this year, the NTC dumped the European standard for digital television in favor of Japan’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcast (ISDB) technology as the standard for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcast service. But this can’t be fully implemented yet without the IRR. The NTC should first convene a TWG to craft the IRR and frequency planning for the implementation of the ISDB technology. 
“An overwhelming consensus and endorsement among the various industry stakeholders was submitted to the Commission which bore Memorandum Circular 02-06-2010 on ‘Standard for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Broadcast Service’ adopting the ISDB-T platform,” said the NTC. 
When DTT technology is enforced in the country, there is a need to switch off all analog TV handsets. The switch-off would render all nondigital TV sets obsolete unless connected to an external off-the-air tuner, or a satellite system.
The government is looking at delaying the compulsory transition of all analog television service providers to digital TV and for the termination of all analog TV broadcast transmissions from an earlier target set at the end of year 2015. 
The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) has an interest in the formulation of the IRR and the frequency planning as these will have immediate, medium- and long-term effects on the operation of its members. 
“Our members have already been preparing for the migration to digital TV. Capital expenditures have been budgeted and to a certain degree outlaid, notwithstanding uncertainties due to the absence of an IRR and frequency plan,” it has said. - Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror, dated 29 December 2010, 11:45 PM

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ABS-CBN News: Philippine, Japan governments to ink digital TV accord

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Japanese governments are working on signing a memorandum of cooperation following the decision to tap the latter’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcast technology as the country’s standard for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcast service.  
Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairman Ivan Uy said Japan is willing to train Filipino engineers in this field. 
This, he said, is contained in the draft memorandum which is currently being circulated for comments. “The memo is circulating among different departments. We need to get comments from everybody whether on the KBP [Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas] side or the Department of Foreign Affair whether it would affect any of our international agreements or commitment,” said Uy, who added, “Once everybody has given their comment, then we will sit down.” 
If approved, Uy said Filipino engineers who will be trained by Japanese experts who can then be tapped by other countries that are also going to adapt the Japanese standard for digital TV.
“Eventually, we would be like a big brother to other countries. We can export our engineers to teach other countries.” 
The Japanese government is also being requested by the Philippines to subsidize the cost of set-top boxes. These boxes are necessary so that the Filipinos can watch digital broadcast programs once the shift from analog to digital system is implemented. 
“The Japanese government will invest in a set-top box factory in the Philippines. But we are also asking them to subsidize the boxes because we don’t have the funds for that,” added Uy. 
When DTT technology is enforced in the country there is a need to switch off all analog TV handsets. The switch-off would render all non-digital TV sets obsolete unless connected to an external off-the-air tuner, or a satellite system.
The government is looking at delaying the compulsory transition of all analog television service providers to digital TV and for the termination of all analog TV broadcast transmissions from an earlier target set at the end of year 2015. 
The National Telecommunications Commission was already given the go-ahead by the CICT to form a Technical Working Group (TWG) for the purpose of drafting the Implementing Rules and Regulation for digital television. 
The TWG will be composed of members from the broadcast industry and stakeholders such as the government, suppliers and consumers. - Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror, dated 28 December 2010, 12:36 AM
Source: ABS-CBN News

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Newsbytes: GMA-7 may spend P600M for digital TV transition

With the government-mandated ruling that television stations should shift to digital transmission by 2015, broadcast giant GMA-7 has revealed that it may spend P300 to P600 million for its move to digital TV.
The TV station made the pronouncement in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) where it also divulged that it is unlikely to reach its P3-billion income target for 2010 because of a weak fourth quarter as compared with the same period last year which was buoyed by election campaign ads.
“While the company’s 4Q 2010 performance was good, 4Q 2009 was better due to the presence of advocacy ads. Thus, the company may not be able to hit its P3 billion net income target for 2010. Channel 7’s gross airtime revenues would settle roughly at P12 billion for the whole year,” the company said.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has formally directed television firms to start migrating to digital TV after picking early this year a Japanese digital TV standard. - dated 21 December 2010, 11:52 AM.
Source: Newsbytes Philippines

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Inquirer: NTC slammed over digital TV decision

MANILA, Philippines—The National Telecommunications Commission’s last-minute decision in choosing Japanese DTV standards for use in the Philippines has raised the eyebrows of several broadcast-sector stakeholders.
Last June, just three weeks before the end of the Arroyo administration, the commission decided that the best system for the Philippines would be the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting digital terrestrial television standard, a broadcast platform developed in Japan.
This beat the Digital Video Broadcasting platform developed in Europe.
Digital TV technology will give users more channels and improve the quality of service. The shift will also free up some frequencies that may be allocated for wireless broadband Internet.
The International Telecommunications Union has given the Philippines until 2015 to complete the shift to digital TV technology, replacing the analog broadcast systems used by television stations today.
Some industry players have expressed their concern over the regulator’s move to junk the European standard for digital television, which is said to be more cost-effective and widely used around the world.
A source privy to the proceedings said the timing of the NTC decision appeared dubious because it was made just a few weeks before President Aquino assumed power.
But NTC Deputy Commissioner Douglas Michael Mallillin said the Japanese standard won over the European version due to the lower price of set-top boxes.
“Everyone in the industry has supported our choice,” Mallillin said. “Technically, there’s no issue.”
Japan also offered a “sweetener”—the establishment of a manufacturing facility in the Philippines—to persuade the government to adopt the Japanese standard, he added.
So far, no Philippine company has committed to this standard. - Paolo Montecillo, dated 13 December 2010, 11:51 PM.
Source: Inquirer

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DiBEG: Demonstration in the KBP Top Level Management Conference in the Philippines

On November 25-26, 2010, the KBP (the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines) held its annual Top Level Management Conference and General Membership meeting in Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay City, Philippines.

This occassion was attended by the key executives of the various TV & Radio Networks in the Philippines with the participation of various equipment vendors, industry supporters, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, key government officials of the Philippines consisting of the representatives from the National Telecommunications Commission and the Commission on Information and Technology.

Commissioner Cordoba and Deputy Commissioner Fortes in the Middle
KBP President Herman Basbano and KBP Chairman Rupert Nicdao

During the conference, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan and the Association of Radio Industries and Businesses made an exhibition booth in cooperation with ACCESS Co. Ltd., Leader Electronics Corp., Maspro Denkoh Corp., Sharp Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Smart networks and Kami Electronics Industries Co. Ltd. showcasing variety of ISDB-T products.

In addition, the live transmission from Manila and reception inside the hall of Taal Vista Hotel of an ISDB-T signal was demonstrated which has gained admiration from the delegates in terms of its quality and robustness despite the limited transmitter power being emitted 60 Kilometers away.

During the sessions, Mr. Gamaliel A. Cordova, the Commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission made a speech summarizing the past discussion including the issue of the Memorandum Circular adopting the Japanese ISDB-T as the digital TV standard for the Philippines, and high ling the upcoming decision making process including the Technical Working Group 3 to define the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Digital Terrestrial Television roll-out in the Philippines.

Also, Mr. Toshiyuki Yokota, the Director General for International Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs wished for the success of the Philippine broadcasters in their pursuit of excellence. - dated 28 November 2010
 Source: DiBEG

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Manila Standard Today: NTC convening groups to make digital TV rules

The National Telecommunications Commission will start this week formulating the implementing rules and regulations to jump-start the country’s shift to digital television.
Commission on Information and Communications Technology chairman Ivan Uy told reporters the commission had given the go-signal to the NTC to convene the technical working and the frequency planning groups on digital TV.
“We recently gave the NTC the go-signal to start convening. By next week, they should start crafting the rules,” Uy said. He added that the frequency planning group, which is composed of a different set of officials, would seat with the technical people to determine the spectrum needed for digital TV.
He said the target shutdown of analog TV remained in 2015 despite the delay caused by the change in administration. “Early next year, the rules should be out,” he said.
Uy said an agreement will be signed with the Japanese government to formalize the selection of integrated services digital broadcasting technology as the official platform.
He said the formal agreement was needed to speed up the investments offered by the proponents of the Japanese standard, including the establishment of a facility that would assemble the set top boxes. - Jeremiah F. de Guzman, dated 30 November 2010.
Source: Manila Standard Today

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Balita.PH: KBP wants NTC to issue guidelines on digital terrestrial TV

MANILA, Nov. 23 – The Kapisanan ng Broadkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) wants the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue guidelines on digital terrestrial TV (DTT) as soon as possible as the termination of analog platform takes place in seven to 10 years yet.

In a letter to the NTC, the KBP said its members have already been preparing for the migration to digital TV from analog platform.
"Capital expenditures have been budgeted and to a certain degree outlaid, notwithstanding uncertainties due to the absence of an IRR and frequency plan," the KBP said.
In June, this year, the NTC approved a memorandum circular mandating the use of Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) for digital terrestrial TV migration.
The Philippines will be the first in Asia to adopt the Japanese standard for digital TV.
Besides Japan, other countries that have adopted ISDB-T were Brazil, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Paraguay.
The KBP added that it has interest in the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations and the frequency planning as these will have immediate, medium and long term effects on the operation of its members.
Given this, the KBP is urging the NTC to immediately convene the technical working group for the formulation of the IRR for digital TV and the corresponding frequency planning so that its members can make concrete plans and capital outlays with confidence.
"We view time to be of the essence because the sooner the industry migrates to the digital platform, the faster we can serve with better services. Scarce frequency resources will also be freed up sooner as it will probably take anywhere between seven to ten years before the redundant analog services are terminated," the KBP said.
ABS-CBN Corp. earlier said it plans to spend P3 billion and P5 billion to roll out DTT nationwide for over five years to improve signal, particularly in Metro Manila.
Besides ABS-CBN, GMA Network Inc., ABC Development Corp. and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. group favored the Japanese platform over the European Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld standard.
Digital TV is a system for broadcasting and receiving digital sound and video signals that requires a specially designed and more advanced TV set than the traditional analog box. This means that upon migration to the digital format, consumers who still have analog TV sets would have to buy set-top boxes to receive digital signals.
According to the NTC, the set-top boxes for the Japanese standard would cost $ 11, while the price for the European standard gadget would range from $ 12 to $ 13.
The regulator estimates that around 14 million Filipino households use analog TV sets. The country originally planned to migrate from analog to digital TV in 2015. - (PNA) DCT/DGA/utb, dated 24 November 2010, 1:31 AM.
Source: Balita.PH

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DTV Pilipinas' Guide for Digital Television

If you want an interactive version of our DTV guide, download it here : (please report to our FB fanpage if the link is broken)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Inquirer: ABS-CBN to spend P5B on digital TV rollout

MANILA, Philippines — ABS-CBN Corp. is prepared to spend P3 billion to P5 billion on a nationwide rollout of digital TV, one of its priority programs starting next year.
“We made some tests already. We are ready to roll out,” ABS-CBN chief finance officer Rolando Valdueza told reporters following an analysts’ briefing.
A nationwide implementation of digital TV would need as much as P5 billion over five years, he said, adding that the budget for the initial rollout next year was “at least P1 billion.”
This would be enough to launch digital TV in selected areas outside Metro Manila where ABS-CBN has signal problems.
Digital TV is designed to deliver improved image and sound quality and more programming options to viewers. As such, ABS-CBN expects the system would boost ratings, particularly by addressing signal problems.
ABS-CBN found out that when it enjoyed the same signal strength as other networks in a given area, ABS-CBN tended to top the ratings in that area, Valdueza said.
User take-up will guide ABS-CBN on how aggressively it would expand the rollout.
“I think five years would be [enough]. But if the initial launch is successful enough, we can implement the program more aggressively. The five years may become just two to three years,” Valdueza said.
The budget includes provisions for set top boxes, which users of analog TV sets need in order to enjoy digital TV programming.
ABS-CBN’s digital TV system will be based on Japanese technology, which is the technology endorsed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
GMA Network Inc. and PLDT-owned Associated Broadcasting Corp. (TV5) also favor the Japanese platform.
The networks are waiting for the NTC to issue the implementing rules and regulations for DTT, or digital television-terrestrial, services before finally rolling out their respective digital TV programs.
Analysts said that digital TV could be the next battleground in the ratings war between established and emerging television networks as more options open up for advertisers. - Riza T. Olchondra, dated 14 November 2010, 11:07 PM.
Source: Inquirer

Friday, November 12, 2010

GMA News: Aquino secures $3.655-B investments from Japan

President Aquino secured billions of dollars of investments from Japan, and surprisingly, he met with the following people in various famous electronics industries in the Land of the Rising Sun. With those investments from Japan, it will include the upgrade and help to digitize the television system in the country for the following years.

Read the story after the break.
President Benigno Aquino III has secured $3.655 billion worth of investments after meeting with leaders of some of Japan's biggest corporations.

According to a statement released on Friday by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) under Secretary Sonny Coloma, the amount of investments Aquino secured in Japan exceeded the $2.4-billion investments he scored in the United States in September.

Aquino met with the following:

  • Marubeni Corp. president and CEO Teruo Asada;

  • Toshiba president and CEO Norio Sasaki;

  • Itochu deputy COO Yoshihisa Nishimura; and

  • Masahiko Yaegashi, president of JGC, the design and technology arm of Itochu Corp.

    The PCOO said Marubeni Corp. pledged to invest $3.4 billion in the Philippines for:

  • the expansion of the Sual and Pagbilao power stations;

  • MRT Line 7;

  • LRT 2 East and West extension project; and

  • digital TV system and equipment.

    Itochu Corp., on the other hand, pledged to pour in $122 million for the development of 11,000-hectare sugarcane plantation in Isabela for bioethanol production, the PCOO said.

    The bioethanol project is expected to generate 18,000 jobs in two years and benefit some 15,000 farmers.

    Toshiba Corp., meanwhile, promised to invest P133 million for its electronics products expansion in the Philippines, the PCOO added.

    Aquino met with the Japanese business leaders at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo before proceeding to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Yokohama. He is expected to fly back to Manila on Monday.

    Carandang: Figures not yet official

    However, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary (PCDSPO) Ricky Carandang, clarified that the figures are not official.

    "The figures are not official so let’s wait until the President announces the details himself," Carandang said in an interview with reporters in Japan.

    Commenting on the clarification made by Carandang, Coloma said the figures were just "preliminary."

    Coloma also noted that the press release was written from Japan.

    The PCOO headed by Coloma and the PCDSPO headed by Carandang have been the subject of media speculation in the past months about "turf-related issues."

    These issues have reportedly been the cause of some confusing Palace statements. - Jam Sisante, dated 12 November 2010, 09:16 PM.

  • Source: GMA News

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Philippine Television by 2016

    Haven’t you heard the news? You cannot watch with your ordinary TV anymore by 2016?

    No, you still can. Philippines will just switch off all analog TV channels by December 31, 2015 of 11:59 p.m., according to NTC. This is a part of the country’s migration to digital TV, and also the world’s standard imposed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to shift all television stations around the world to go digital.

    By the way, here are also some reasons why the world wants to go digital:

    · Some existing analog TV frequencies are not used, since analog TV transmission requires a channel spacing of 6 MHz which they call guard band. This is because if channels do come over one after the other, they might be interfering each other’s broadcasts.

    · Analog TV broadcasts are very prone to impulse noise. Once you’ve been using, for example, a blender, plugged into where the TV is also plugged, this may cause some white lines and snowflakes appear on your TV sets.

    · Today’s extent in increasing demands for mobile broadband had been circulating around the world. The ITU proposed to use the remaining analog TV frequencies to be part of the RAN or the Regional Area Network, which will be imposing the Super Wi-Fi, a technology faster than today’s WiMax.

    · High definition television broadcasts are now being popular all over the world, since current analog broadcast can only handle low resolutions and cannot transmit HD video signals over the air in analog. Cinematic and panoramic viewing is also a part of HDTV broadcast.

    · TV stations around the country do use different frequencies for every place, for example, a channel of a TV station in Manila would be different from the channel of the same TV station in Cebu and Davao, etc. This would rather eat very large amount of frequencies being used.

    · Mobile TV is now in greater demands, since most of the people prefer on-the-go. Analog TV cannot do such, since it captures too much noise due to ionic discharges in the atmosphere, which brings snowy images and rolling white lines each and every run.

    Philippines are not being left over into the world of television broadcasting. In fact, the country is ready to shift towards digitalization.


    Current TV setups in our houses and even in buses do use analog. Analog TV transmission is the basic and the oldest concept of TV transmission way back 1940’s. Television-giant ABS-CBN, being the first ever TV network in the country, was the first to use and broadcast analog TV in 1953 using the American standard NTSC-M. This setup does only require your TV set and an antenna, either indoor or outdoor.

    Cable TV as being introduced in the country way back 1960’s via ABS-CBN affiliate Nuvue Cablevision, was incorporated as an antenna replacement for household TV sets who would prefer to watch TV channels with not too much interference over the air. Cable TV setup does require subscriptions from cable TV providers, which will connect a coaxial cable from outside to your TV sets. This setup also offers TV channels in and out of the country, which is not available free-to-air.

    Satellite TV setup was the baby among the three TV setup. This would require a satellite dish that will receive microwaves over-the-air, and that dish is connected into the TV sets via coaxial cable. This was first launched as “wireless cable TV setup” but since that dubbing made some misconceptions about being wireless and using cable. Satellites are used in places where TV broadcasts are cannot be reached through an ordinary TV antenna, like in some distant places over the mountains or even islands without TV transmitters.

    As the technology goes even farther, this existing setup may require even more, as high definition video technology has been introduced in the 80’s. But analog TV cannot even transmit video signals over its largest, 720 x 480 pixel resolution. Plus, mobile TV in analog has impact to greater needs. This comes up with the birth of digital television.


    Studies about the world’s migration to digital free-to-air television had been started since the 70’s by Japan. The Japanese had been the imposing standard for making the television signals go digital. At that time, that guideline was introduced to the Americans, being then innovated in the US over the years. In the 90’s, the FCC commanded that the US will go digital using its own standard, the ATSC, and will be shutting down all analog frequencies by the date levied by the standardization committee.

    That American standard cannot be applied with the current television setup for European countries, therefore, the EU decided to have its own digital television standard, the DVB-T. This standard is required for all European countries to adopt this digital TV standard.

    Just like the Europe did, China also did its own benchmark, the DMB-T. This was the only standard that will be used by one country only, including Macau and Hongkong as China’s affiliates.

    Japan, on the other hand, who was the pioneer in digital TV industry, had gone way too long to study the best ever standard for digital television. The ISDB-T, which is very popular among the Latin American countries like Brazil and Argentina, brings fixed and mobile TV into one broadcast.

    Now, the world feasts with four major digital TV standards and every country has the right to choose which standard they will use. The Philippines, as we trace back the history of country’s television broadcast, passed by two digital TV standards, the European DVB-T and the Japanese ISDB-T.

    On the other hand, cable television also made its way to go digital. The most popular standard for digital cable TV was the European’s DVB-C, which was launched in the past decade next to its terrestrial sister DVB-T. The United States only uses ordinary QAM and Japanese cable TV standard ISDB-C is not too much popular compared to DVB-C.

    Satellite TV has gone its way to go digital, too. European standard again dominated the world’s migration to digital satellite television through its platform DVB-S and DVB-S2. This migration benefits satellite and direct-to-home (DTH) TV subscribers by having more channels, larger bandwidths and also the carriage of HD and the future 3D TV broadcast. ISDB-S was the Japanese standard for DST broadcast, but not that widely held around the world.


    The country is also favor to migrate into digital, that’s why the National Telecommunications Commission had launched digital TV technology back in 2006, and necessitated that all analog TV stations will shut down their analog transmission by a minute before 2016.

    Terrestrial or simply free-to-air, digital television setup was first tested by the Lopez-led multimedia conglomerate ABS-CBN back in 2007. This was their answer to the network’s rival GMA’s lead in Mega Manila ratings. According to ABS-CBN, their channel is located in the lowest channel number ever for a TV operation, which is very prone to any electronic noise. Added to this is its transmitter, located within its broadcast complex in Diliman and is now being surrounded by high-rise buildings. They invested for European’s DVB-T and used the analog TV frequency of Channel 51, bringing ABS-CBN, Studio 23 and ANC in one channel.

    On the contrary, a small-time UHF channel GEMNET also commenced on testing digital TV standards back in 2007, switching off its GEM TV frequency of Channel 49. They also used first DVB-T, but after few months of testing, they switched to Japanese standard ISDB-T.

    TV5, the revamped station of ABC, also applied for digital terrestrial television (DTT) license to test the digital mobile TV standard, DVB-H. This approach of TV5’s shift to digital was due to increasing mobile TV demands. The network used their defunct analog TV frequency of Channel 47.

    Tracing back, the NTC had finally decided to push through DVB-T as the sole DTT standard in the country way back 2007. However, some media networks didn’t approved with this and decided to test again all the DTT standards available. The following was seen through the tests for all DTT standards:

    · The American ATSC was the weakest among all digital television standards since it uses 8-VSB, a higher modification of the analog TV transmission VSB. ATSC is also prone to multipath distortion, which in this they cannot provide mobile TV broadcasts.

    · European DVB-T was the next to ATSC, because what it lacks is the mobile TV support. DVB-H, also a European platform for digital mobile TV, needs different transmitter and frequency for mobile TV.

    · Lastly, the Japanese standard ISDB-T was very favored by the NTC, since it carriers both fixed and mobile reception in one transmission, and very robust when it comes to multipath interference and error correction.

    Before the 112th Philippine Independence, the NTC had finally decided that the country will be using the Japanese digital terrestrial TV standard ISDB-T as the sole DTT standard in the Philippines, which turns out to be very suitable in the country’s current analog setup.

    Today, there are only two free-to-air digital television channels in Metro Manila. The government-owned NBN is now using Channel 48’s analog TV frequency and uses the Channel 1’s digital TV channel in Multiple SD setup.

    The other is the Iglesia ni Cristo-based TV network GEM HD, still uses its analog TV frequency of Channel 49 and digital TV Channel 2 in 1080i high definition TV setup. Both are seen simultaneously in 1-seg broadcasts for mobile phones and laptop tuners.

    On the world of digital cable television broadcast, ABS-CBN affiliate SkyCable, the leading cable operator in the country, was the first cable TV operator to go digital back in 2009. According to Lopez, the migration of cable TV companies to digital is the first step towards elimination of cable TV tapping. Added to this is more channels can now be offered and high definition cable TV broadcast are now available compared to analog cable setup. Current SkyCable digital cable platform is available within Metro Manila subscribers only, but in fact the company is investing millions of pesos to expand its digital cable TV subscription all over the country.

    DTH operators GSat and Dream were the first among the satellite TV operators to migrate into digital. Also, the newly-born Mediaquest’s baby, Cignal, offered digital satellite TV standard in its first inception and incorporating full HD channels throughout its broadcast nationwide.

    But what are its benefits for us people who are watching current analog TV setup?

    · Nationwide TV networks that broadcast throughout the country will now have its single-frequency network (SFN), having only one channel for that station, unlike the past’s different channels for every place of broadcast.

    · More channels can fit into television frequency by utilizing a Multiple SDTV setup (Multi-SD), having 3 to 4 standard definition (SD) sub-channels in one channel frequency.

    · Current antennas used by our TV sets can be also used for receiving digital TV channels.

    · TV networks can now utilize adjacent channel frequencies due to digital TV’s virtual channeling. Virtual channeling puts a TV station to its home channel, without interfering its analog channel frequency.

    o Best example is today’s NBN Channel 4. In analog, NBN is using Channel 4 frequency. But in digital, its frequency uses Channel 49, but its home channel, its virtual channel is Channel 1.

    o Another example is ABS-CBN. ABS-CBN uses the lowest TV channel, which is Channel 2. But when they go digital, they will be using Channel 19 frequency, but they will use virtual Channel 3 in the meantime. Since GEM HD uses virtual Channel 2 today, when Philippines shut down all analog stations, GEM HD will use a new virtual channel, and ABS-CBN will now back to its home channel, the virtual channel 2.

    · Pause and play is now integrated for TV broadcast due to time shifting. If you want to take a break first, like having a pee, or even skip boring advertisements, and you cannot leave your favorite show on TV, digital TV offers pausing the program and is played back when you’re ready to watch it again.

    · You can now view the next programs for the next hours, next days and even next month, because of Electronic Program Guide (EPG). This shows the current program broadcasted and the next programs on every channel. With also this feature, you can set a reminder for a TV program to be watched and have it being automatically changed for that schedule.

    · Interactivity is what digital TV also features. While watching, you can view some data over the program’s topic, like for example, viewing the number of votes of each contestant while watching a reality show, or even you can join a voting session for a TV show with this highlight.

    · High definition or HD TV broadcast is now incorporated with the digital TV, and supports current LCD TV setup which offers cinematic panoramic viewing and more vivid and clear pictures. Audio quality also turns out to be integrated with digital surround sound 5.1 channel and stereophonic sound setups.

    · Converter boxes with built-in Digital Video Recorder (DVR) can easily record their favorite show on digital TV, from the preferred resolution up to full HD 1080i video recording.

    · Mobile phones from Japan with 1-seg TV reception will benefit the most from digital TV, having clear quality of TV broadcast into handheld devices, compared with the analog. This will break through the use of digital mobile TV in the country.

    · In line with mobility, public utility vehicles like jeepneys and buses can now offer much clear TV broadcast while running on roads. Even high definition TV broadcast can be received in mobile TVs.

    There are some disadvantages though:

    · Digital TV does not degrade as gracefully as analogue. For example, with low signal strength an analogue picture gets fuzzy (but is still viewable) while a digital picture freezes and stops updating, showing “NO SIGNAL” broadcast alert.

    · Switching channels is slower because of the time delays in decoding digital signals.

    · Set-top box (STB) or digital converter box is REQUIRED for all TV sets to receive digital signals and watch digital TV channels.

    · Scanning is required to view all digital channels over-the-air.

    · All TV stations throughout the country, maybe a TV-giant or a small-time network, are required to go digital, thus requiring stations to upgrade its transmitter facilities from analog to digital.


    Yes, if we are going to look forward into this, 2016 is much nearer. Next year will be 2011, and after 5 years, analog TV will be ceased nationwide. So here’s a list on how to go-on-the-flow with the country’s migration to digital:

    · The best way, and the cheapest way to migrate digital is to buy your own set-top box (STB). Current digital TV boxes may offer the basic prices from P 500 up to the most advanced converter boxes that support HD with prices up to P 3,500. This is a ONE-TIME INVESTMENT for digital TV.

    · If you’re on-the-go, 1-seg tuners are also available, have prices from P 1,000 to P 2,500. These tuners can be plugged into laptops to watch digital TV instantly, but the quality of 1-seg is much different from full-segment STBs and converter boxes. Also, Japan-based mobile phones (which in the future may be available in the Philippine market) with 1-seg mobile TV application can receive digital TV broadcast.

    · Too tense with it? Then go subscribe cable TV. Cable TV companies are exempted with the analog switch-off (even the analog cable TV setup), so you can still enjoy your favorite channels even after 2016.

    · You can also apply for direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV subscriptions. Like cable TVs, satellites are also excused from the analog switch-off.

    · If you’re planning to buy a new TV before the analog switch-off, better look for TVs with built-in digital TV tuners. By incorporation, an external STB is not anymore needed. But as of today, selected TV manufacturers and producers sell LCD TVs with built-in DTV tuners in high-price range from P 60,000 to P 150,000, much afforded by rich personas.

    Not yet ready? Now better get ready. Why not try to save a penny from now and by the last quarter of 2016, buy what you want to experience this once-in-a-lifetime switch from analog to digital?


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    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Manila Bulletin: Cignal Boosts Digital TV Broadcasting

    Cignal Digital TV is a new offering for television viewers to go digital. As the world of cable TV goes digital with the commencement of SkyCable Digiboxes, satellites or direct-to-home (DTH) services like this will now also go digital, as part of the world's migration to digital TV broadcast. Remember, there are four known media to broadcast TV signals: free-to-air or terrestrial, cable, DTH or satellite and IPTV.

    Read the article after the break.
    Cignal is on track to bring digital TV broadcast service to every Filipino home as it beefs up subscription packages and fortifies its channel lineup with a wider selection of digital programming and the most High Definition channels. It now offers more than 45 digital channels, including nine HD channels.
    Cignal is operated by Media-Scape, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings, Inc.
    According to MediaQuest President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Espinosa, the company is focused on changing the media landscape by providing homes around the country with a 100% digital experience regardless what kind of television set they use. Cignal has 90,000 subscribers to date, most of whom are from Visayas and Mindanao. Espinosa projects the subscriber base to reach 120,000 by the end of the year, then double by next year.
    “Cignal is setting the bar in TV viewing experience from analog cable to full digital,” he says. Backed by the solid business foundation of the PLDT network, the company has infused more than P1.5 billion in investments. Consumers benefit from the digital system because it offers high quality due to the absence of "snowy" images and noise.
    Digital Television Broadcast is an advanced technology that is superior to analog broadcasting. It allows stations to offer improved picture and sound quality because Cignal’s head end is all digital and uses the latest state-of-the-art encoding and compression system plus audio/video processing equipment from abroad.
    MediaScape’s Managing Director for Sales and Marketing, Annie Naval, says Cignal’s subscription bundles and enhanced payment options make it possible for consumers to avail of the service that best fits their budget and viewing preference. “Cignal’s subscription plans range from P250 to P1,290 monthly and subscribers have a choice between lease or straight out cash purchase of the digital kit. We have a centralized customer care system in place and now have dealerships nationwide, as well as over a million retailers for reloading or payment options.
    Cignal’s programming selection spans genres from information to sports, movies, lifestyle, and children’s entertainment. “Filipino viewers turn to television for information and entertainment. TV remains one of the most accessible media and our goal is to upgrade viewing experience with the best technology available for every member of the Filipino family.” - dated 15 October 2010, 06:46 PM.
    Source: Manila Bulletin

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    I.T. Matters: Sky Cable spending P200M to switch to digital TV broadcast

    On the world of cable television, ABS-CBN's sister company, SkyCable, the leading cable operator in the country, will spend millions of pesos in digitizing the cable service in Metro Manila.
    LOPEZ-LED cable television service provider Sky Cable Corp. said yesterday it would switch 80% of its Metro Manila subscribers to a digital broadcast system from analog by the end of the year. 
    In a statement, Sky Cable said it had allotted 20% of its P1-billion capital expenditure for the shift to digital, with content suppliers expressing support for its new digital brand “SkyGlobal.”
    A digital service will “deliver superior viewing experience while offering newfound television intelligence that makes it possible for subscribers to tailor their viewing preferences and at the same time combat cable piracy that has stunted industry growth and expansion,” said the cable service provider.
    The firm said it has more than 500,000 customers nationwide.
    Jacelyn Kek, senior vice-president for sales and marketing of movie channel HBO, said viewers would have the “flexibility and convenience” of selecting what they want to watch with digital technology.
    “As an example, HBO-On-Demand — our subscription video on demand service running on the nowTV and StarHub platforms in Hong Kong and Singapore — is something which Sky Cable’s digital subscribers can look forward,” she said in the statement.
    Jude H. Turcuato, Philippine territory director of FOX International Channels and the National Geographic Channel, said options for viewers increase when content is delivered within the “digital space.”
    “They will be able to enjoy TV favorites like Glee, American Idol, and upcoming US reality hits such as MasterChef and Got to Dance in vastly superior audio-visual quality,” he said.
    “As Asia’s largest [high-definition] channel provider, [Fox] is providing high-quality content across a range of popular genres, and Sky Cable’s digitization efforts means our viewers can appreciate this content in the way it was meant to be appreciated. It is enhancing the overall viewing experience of the audience through better quality viewing and greater choice and convenience,” Mr. Turcuato added.
    Sky Cable already offers Select, a service that lets customers choose extra channels after subscribing to a basic cable package.
    The cable provider expects to post double-digit profit growth this year due to the continued expansion of its subscriber base and the stronger peso, which decreases dollar-denominated expenses.
    The number of subscribers is expected to increase by another 5% at the end of the year.
    Last week, Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., owner of the Cignal digital TV broadcast service, said analog cable firms would be out of business soon as the world switches to digital platforms. -
    Source: I.T. Matters

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Computerworld Philippines: 2015 deadline for digital TV shift in RP too ambitious, industry player says

    The 2015 deadline set by the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) for the shutdown of analog TV transmissions in the country needs to be extended, according to a ranking executive from MediaQuest, the media investment arm of PLDT Group of Companies.
    “It has to be extended for practical reasons,” cited Ray Espinosa, president and CEO of MediaQuest. “It will be hard for consumers. It’s expensive to switch now to televisions with digital reception.”
    The NTC in 2007 announced the mandate for broadcasting companies to start the transition from analog transmission to digital terrestrial television services, initially opting for the adoption of European standards for digital TV.
    Recent reports, however, say that the commission has opted for the Japanese standard instead, since it was cheaper to deploy in the country.
    Major television networks have already signified their moves towards digital TV, investing heavily on equipment and research to reach NTC’s deadline.
    Digital Cable TV
    While digital television sets prove to be rather expensive, Espinosa said LCD and flat screen units are becoming cheaper in the market.
    This makes Philippines a viable market for digital cable TV broadcasting, he added, as CRT television units will slowly be pushed into oblivion in the next coming years.
    MediaQuest recently launched their own digital cable TV service through Cignal, which, the company claims, is the only 100% digital cable provider in the country.
    100% digital, executives explained, means they do not carry analog signals at any point of the transmission, except for capturing transmissions from local terrestrial operators, who still transmit using analog signals.
    “The system operates on a full digital head-end, and has a separate audio and video processing equipment,” related Annie Naval, managing director for sales and marketing, MediaScape, a subdsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings.
    This enables them to broadcast higher-quality pictures via satellite, without the need for a set-top box that transforms analog signals into digital.
    Cignal currently offers plans ranging from P250 to P1,290, with a choice of prepaid or postpaid subscription. Their premium digital cable TV subscription includes nine HD channels, Naval noted, on top of more than 49 standard-definition channels.
    Cignal currently has a subscriber base of 90,000 in the country, with over 3,500 users in the Metro Manila area alone. - John Mark V. Tuazon, dated 7 October 2010.
    Source: Computerworld Philippines

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

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    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Business Mirror: ABS-CBN unit to roll out digital TV-based teaching

    A CORPORATE social responsibility (CSR) unit of a Lopez-family owned broadcast firm expects to roll out its 14-hour education program via a new technology to expand reach of students in private school, its executive told the BusinessMirror.
    “We’re going to piggyback on ABS-CBN,” Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. (KCFI) president Regina Paz L. Lopez said after the launch on Tuesday of an awards program for innovative teachers.
    Lopez said they expect the technology called digital-terrestrial television (DTTV) format to be rolled out in 17 cities in Metro Manila, in Bulacan and in Pampanga by November this year.
    The National Telecommunications Commission first announced the move to DTTV format in 2006 from analog system. Popular literature on DTTV claims the technology provides better quality images and lowers operating costs for broadcast and transmission.
    Lopez said KCFI taps “some resources” from publicly listed ABS-CBN, which includes technical operations support as well as talents.
    Under a 10-year memorandum of agreement with the Department of Education (DepEd), KCFI “is to set up a cable TV channel and to establish the infrastructure for educational TV by providing access to the channel to public elementary and secondary schools nationwide free of charge,” its latest financial report to the Securities and Exchange Commission said.
    “The DepEd, on the other hand, has declared the educational program on the channel mandatory viewing by children in public pre-school, elementary and secondary schools.”
    KCFI has been operating its own educational cable channel called “Knowledge Channel,” the only all-education Filipino channel on cable. The foundation said the channel offers a curriculum-based programming “and has provided over 2,000 public schools educational TV infrastructure at no cost to public schools.”
    Lopez said that while they hope to reach all public schools, “there is also a need to reach out to students in private schools.” - Dennis D. Estopace, dated 25 August 2010, 07:40 PM.
    Source: Business Mirror

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Philippine Star: Cignal's digital TV world-class provider

    MANILA, Philippines - Go 100-percent digital and get 100-percent reception on premium channels with Cignal, world-class provider of superior digital feed at affordable monthly rates. 
    Its digital TV broadcast provides a better option for those who endure second-rate TV reception from analog cable. Providing 100-percent clear digital feed, Cignal propels people’s TV watching experience to a new height regardless of what TV unit they have. With its transmission capabilities, Cignal brings superior clarity also to LED, LCD or plasma TVs and transmits 100-percent clear broadcast to ordinary analog TVs.
    Cignal’s premium channel line-up includes high-definition channels of HBO HD, National Geographic Channel HD, History HD, Star Movies HD, ESPN HD, and the digitally enhanced Disney, ESPN, Star Sports and Sony channels for cinema-like TV viewing experience.
    For its standard definition transmission, Cignal has a good mix of your favorite channels, including TV5, ABS-CBN, GMA, Q-11, Studio 23, NBN, Solar, IBC, etc, 2nd Avenue, Net25, TBN-Word, Basketball TV, HBO, Disney, Cartoon Network, CNN, PBO, Viva Cinema, AXN, The Biography Channel, RH TV and Cinemax.
    At P250 per month, Cignal also offers lease option to easily avail of the service. Since Cignal is not cable, it can be enjoyed even in the remotest areas in the country. It brings the most nationwide coverage and superior digital TV broadcast. - dated 16 August 2010, 12:00 AM
    Source: Philippine Star

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    Philippine Star: SkyCable sets P1 billion for capex, shift to digital transmission

    MANILA, Philippines - Lopez-owned cable television operator SkyCable has earmarked around P1 billion this year for capital expenditure, around P200 million of which will be spent for its shift from analog to digital transmission.
    Company officials told The STAR that around P400 million has already been invested for the whole digitization process, which was resorted to by the country’s biggest cable television (CATV) firm to minimize, if not totally put a stop, cable signal piracy.
    They noted that with the digital box deployment, illegal connections on the SkyCable network have come down significantly, and will continue to do so over time.
    “We are hoping that the rest of the industry follows our lead so that this doesn’t create a situation where those who were pirating from our network simply transfer to the analog/unencrypted networks of our competitors. This is not good for legitimate consumers whose signals are affected by illegal tapping, for our content providers who can only grow together with the industry, and the industry in general whose growth is partly dependent on getting illegal consumers to pay,” an official pointed out.
    Earlier, The STAR reported that SkyCable is aiming to convert about 80 percent of its one million subscribers to digital by yearend via the installation of set-top boxes for every television set connected to CATV.
    Officials revealed that they are now 65 percent digital and that for existing customers, the installation of the set-top box is free.
    They explained that the box itself has many added features, including additional free channels (History, Bio, Fox Crime, FX, BTV, CNBC), an electronic program guide with schedules or program summaries for up to two weeks, and parental lock, among others.  
    “Getting a box also allows the customer to choose and pay only for the channels they want. This allows them to control how much they want to spend per month assuming they don’t need all the channels in our current channel line-up,” one official pointed out.
    The official noted that SkyCable does not view the box deployment as a way of generating additional revenues from the existing subscriber base. “In fact, because of the box, subscribers can actually lower their monthly spending by choosing to pay only for the channels they watch. However, the biggest benefit of the box over time is the protection of our content from illegal connections. By preventing signal theft, hopefully, this allows the industry to again see another wave of subscriber growth,” he said.
    But observers noted that the shift from analog to digital can also generate additional revenues for the company. Right now, there are many subscribers who pay for only one cable TV subscription and hook up other televisions inside their homes.
    When a particular subscriber is converted to digital, they can only receive signals via the set-top box, which has channels programmed in them. The subscriber then has to pay additional if he wants other televisions inside his home/office to similar receive signals by paying for the boxes.
    Aside from shifting to digital, SkyCable has also been offered prepaid subscription, although officials said they still do not have a significant number of prepaid subscribers.
    “What we’ve discovered is that most of our subscribers actually prefer postpaid because it offers uninterrupted viewing, as opposed to prepaid which is interrupted every time the load is consumed. We recently launched a P280 postpaid product, which over the past few months, has grown to about 30,000 subscribers. And faster broadband for the home will be coming soon,” he said.
    SkyCable is also performing well in the area of cable Internet. “But while demand is strong, our biggest problem from a broadband perspective is limited coverage throughout Metro Manila. We intend to continue focusing on high-end homes, and will continue providing residential offerings that are faster than our current 12mbps flagship package,” he added.
    The company is expanding its broadband coverage and is coming out with cable TV products that are more affordable to the general public. Starting with a P280 product, it recently offered a P499 product.
    SkyCable is also looking at other new sources of revenue stream. For cable, the company is still looking for a video-on-demand (VOD) set-top box that will be affordable to the general public. 
    At present, SkyCable is offering a VOD service online for free, to all SkyBroadband customers. Called iwantv, it allows SkyCable broadband subscribers to watch ABS-CBN content on an on-demand basis.
    Meanwhile, the Lopez group has started bundling its cable TV subscription and broadband (via SkyCable) and phone service (through Bayan Telecommunications). “We only launched this three weeks ago, and it’s still in test phase.  
    We are trying to understand if the product creates better value for the consumer,” an official said.
    Another product recently launched by SkyCable are high-definition (HD) channels. “We have about eight channels on HD including three more which are launching this month (Star Movies, National Geographic, and Fox). We will continue adding HD channels as they become available in the region. It’s still a small number that subscribe as the HD box is quite expensive but we expect take-up to improve as the box costs come down over time, and as more HD content becomes available in SE Asia,” he added.
    The official also pointed out that SkyCable is performing well financially, and continues to meet its debt obligations, a portion of which has been restructured. The company still has around P1.5 billion in bank loans.
    During the first quarter of 2010, SkyCable, which has been consolidated into ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., posted a 14 percent growth in consolidated revenues, driven by higher revenue contribution from broadband services and other revenues.
    The company logged in a 76 percent year-on-year increase in broadband subscriptions and an 11 percent increase in prepaid cable service subscriptions. - Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, dated 8 August 2010, 12:00 AM
    Source: Philippine Star