Monday, July 25, 2011

Manila Bulletin: Sayonara, Analog

MANILA, Philippines -- July 24, 2011, Japan marks another technological milestone as the whole country finally switches off its analog transmission and goes fully digital using Japan's very own digital technology, the ISDB-T or Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial. ISDB-T is a type of digital broadcasting developed by Japan that provides audio, video and multimedia services. It uses a modulation method referred to as Band Segmented OFDM with Time Interleave. 
Research and development of digital broadcasting in Japan started way back in 1990's when Japan noticed a great need for HDTV to work together with SDTV as well as their internet services. The country also needed to effectively utilize frequency resources and apply all these to interactive services and data-casting. Furthermore, Japan needed all of the above-mentioned to be available to mobile and portable devices. With all these in mind, technical requirements were then sought in 1994 and soon after the Ministry established the technical standards. ISDB-T was then recommended by the ITU and after licensing and further requirements were completed ISDB-T was launched. 
In order to facilitate and prepare the whole country for the said "switch off", the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) in cooperation with the local government, constructors, retailers and broadcasters worked hand in hand disseminating vital information. Publicity and advisements were done through various support centers, "explanatory meetings" and establishment of call centers and to monitor and measure the reception or signal, MIC sent out radio measurement vehicles. 
For the broadcaster's part, in July 2008, notifications in the form of an “analog logo” was placed seen flashing on the upper right hand corner of the screen. This was viewed over some selected TV programs. As the date was fast approaching, in March 29, 2010, NHK started sequential notifications in the form of a letterbox (seen on the upper and lower part of the screen). Other commercial TVs started doing the same immediately after. 
All broadcasters soon did a "virtual analog switch-off" seen as "blue and black screen" all at the same time especially during primetime and last July 1, a countdown was then displayed showing the number of days remaining as to the termination of analog transmission. 
On this day at exactly noon time, viewers with analog TV will receive only the “blue and black notice” saying that analog transmission has “switched off”. 
And so after approximately 10 years of preparation and transition, the day has finally arrived where the whole country will experience full digital transmission today at exactly noon time. This is with the exemption of a few areas that were badly damaged by the recent earthquake. These areas are scheduled to go on full digital transmission on March 2012. 
In the Philippines, the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC first considered digital switchover by 2012. However, due to delays in reviews and issuance of rules and implementation, transition will push through next year, 2012, extending complete shut off of analog transmission by 2015. - Len Amadora, dated 25 July 2011, 12:00 AM
Source: Manila Bulletin

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