Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Manila Bulletin: ISDB-T is the right choice

Manila Bulletin made an article about how ISDB-T stands as the best choice of PHL to be its digital TV standard against the European DVB-T2, which was being reconsidered to NTC by GMA Network few weeks ago.
MANILA, Philippines - A few weeks back, a suggestion was made to reconsider NTC’s decision on what standard should be implemented as our country makes its switch from analog to digital broadcast on December 2015.  This is in line with the emergence of an updated European standard, the DVB-T2.
As of June 2010, the Japanese standard Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestial or the ISDB-T  was the preferred choice of the NTC and most of the key players in the broadcasting world.  At that time, it was a choice  between the European standard, DVB-T and the Japanese standard, ISDB-T.
Caesar Villadiego of Net 25 was part of the Technical Working Group tapped by NTC to evaluate which standard to use for digital TV broadcast and as such, he said that, “ISDB-T was chosen because of its technical advantages”.  He said that their group did a test broadcast first for DVB-T then followed by the ISDB-T.  The results showed that ISDB-T is superior over the other.  Based on their field tests using the same specifications as to equipment, transmitter, power, etc., ISDB-T has farther coverage with maintained stable signal. 
The results were not at all surprising because as shared to us by Motohiko Kato, Consul General of Japan in the Philippines, same results were extracted when the Chilean government conducted their own comparative test saying that ISDB-T has a larger coverage area than the DVB-T.  They also cited that ISDB-T’s reception is better given a larger coverage area under the same transmitter condition and power.  Also, images do appear clearer and robust in ISDB-T because of its “Time Interleave Technology” that can withstand noise.  While it is true that errors do occur because of radio interference, with ISDB-T data is reconstructed and errors are corrected.   
Aside from better reception and wider coverage area, Caesar Villadiego also cited “value added services” like mobile TV and data casting or interactivityc that were not available in DVB-T.  In one channel bandwidth, ISDB-T can utilize and accommodate a combination of HDTV/SDTV/Mobile TV (one-seg).  In DVB-T, you will need another transmitter to accommodate mobile TV.  Motohiko Kato gave us specifics of these “added features” starting off with free TV service either portable or mobile.  With ISDB-T people can watch TV anytime, anywhere for free or at a very low cost.  ISDB-T will also provide Emergency Warning Broadcasting System especially for harsh weather conditions like typhoons and natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.  People can get emergency warning through their TV sets and mobile phones.  ISDB-T can endure disasters and mobile network congestion. Rest assured, it will have continued service through its mobile TV in difficult times like these.
When asked what will be the probable resistance this transition will encounter, Caesar Villadiego said that for the broadcasters, it will probably be the investment each network would have to make.  But then again, with ISDB-T it is definitely more cost-effective because broadcasters won’t need additional transmitters to have the added services mentioned above.  Another would probably be the purchase of a “set-top box”.  Digital TV transmission is received with the use of a “set-top box” that will be plugged to the user’s existing analog TV.  For this, Japan assured of providing us with cheap and affordable set-top boxes.
In summary, even if what others say may be true that DVB-T has further developed a better standard  compared to its previous in terms of quality, DVB-T2 still lacked the “added services” rendering the Japanese standard a better choice and definitely more suited to the needs and lifestyle of the Filipino people.   
The government should be firm on the decision made last year.  Reconsideration of a newer technology is indeed logical and truly understandable but given the target date of 2015, a reconsideration is a step further back in achieving its goals.  Remember, planning and transition alone takes time. Reconsideration and review would surely delay implementation. If they don’t decide now, a few months from now a newer technology will again emerge.  Till then do they need to review or reconsider again? - Len Amadora, dated 1 March 2011, 10:00 AM.
Source: Manila Bulletin

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