Monday, August 8, 2011

Newsbytes: Broadcasters hit gov’t delay in DTV adoption

An organization of broadcast firms in the country has issued a position paper urging the government to immediately implement and not hold back the adoption of a Japanese DTV standard which the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) picked last year. 
Digital TV or DTV, is also known by the acronym DTT or Digital Terrestrial Television. 
The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) said that time is of the essence in the roll-out of the DTV standard, noting that the government is just wasting its time vacillating on which platform to adopt. 
The NTC, the industry’s regulatory body, last year chose the ISDB-T, the Japanese DTV standard. However, that directive has been put on hold after Malacanang ordered a review of the decision for further study on the merits of a competing platform, the DVB-T, also known as the European standard. 
“Again, we stress that the point of time for making a decision, or the factor of ‘when’, is now,” the KBP said. 
The group noted that the first technical working group (TWG), convened about five years ago, recommended DBV-T as the preferred standard for DTV in the Philippines. 
“This recommendation was anchored on DBV-T being the more mature standard over the Japanese standard and also the lower cost of the DVB-T Set Top Box (STB) that would directly impact on the consumer and thus, the speed of take-up,” it observed. 
TWG-1, however, noted the technical superiority of ISDB-T over DVB-T and also the potential of ISDB-T’s nomadic or mobile reception. 
“Consequently, about two years later or in 2009, the industry felt that a review of the TWG-1 recommendation was in order given the developments that were taking place on the ISDB-T front,” it stated. 
A second TWG was then convened by the NTC. Independent of the NTC TWG-2, the KBP convened its television committee to make a comparative evaluation of DVB-T and ISDB-T. Lopez-owned ABS-CBN also commissioned its own laboratory and field tests comparing DVB-T with ISDB-T. 
The result was that in 2010, according to the KBP, TWG-2 recommended the adoption of ISDB-T as the DTT standard for the Philippines. The recommendation was anchored on the following: 
  • ISDB-T is a flexible DTT transmission system that is capable of providing three levels of hierarchical modulation (audio, video, and data) to fixed, mobile, and handheld terminals without the need for additional transmission facilities. 
  • ISDB-T is able to deliver more channels per frequency than DVB-T. 
  • ISDB-T set-top boxes (STB) would be more affordable because of the supplier commitment on the price and also supported by a commitment from Japanese government to build a plant in the Philippines to manufacture STBs. 
At the time of re-evaluation, ISDB-T was shown to have achieved maturity comparable to DVB-T. ISDB-T’s technical superiority also had actual validation from countries that deployed on the standard, and further confirmed in the laboratory and field tests conducted by ABS-CBN. 
A commitment on the price of the ISDB-T STB, which was significantly lower vis-à-vis DVB-T STB, was also given by the Japanese government, the KBP noted. 
While there was some issue because the price guarantee referred to the ISDB-T MPEG 2 STB and not the MPEG 4 STB, the latter was still cheaper than the DVB-T MPEG 4 STB, the group said. 
Consequently, in 2010, the NTC issued a memorandum circular officially adopting ISDB-T as the DTT standard for the Philippines. This paved the way for test broadcasts by various television networks of digital broadcast using ISDB-T, namely, ABS-CBN, Net 25, RPN-9, IBC 13, Channel 4, and SBN. 
But at this point in time, the KBP said the industry began to notice the development path of DVB-T particularly the second generation DVB-T or DVB-T2. 
DVB-T2 emerged a year after the 2010 NTC circular adopting ISDB-T, and at the height of the consultations on the implementing rules and regulations for DTT in the Philippines, the KBP noted. 
Consequently, TWG-3 was formed and tasked to review the choice of ISDB-T in view of DVB-T2. It was given the task of comparing ISDB-T with DVB-T2 and to determine whether the reasons for adopting ISDB-T still hold vis-à-vis DVB-T2. 
This is “very much like TWG-2, which was tasked to determine whether the then reasons for recommending DVB-T still held vis-à-vis ISDB-T,” the KBP noted. 
“In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, had we not reviewed the initial DVB-T recommendation of TWG-1, we would now be in the same situation as European countries stuck with a legacy technology with the advent of DVB-T2,” the organization said. 
In the end, the KBP said that although the DVB-T2 system is technically superior, the shorter implementation process offered by the ISDB-T “would benefit broadcasters who can recover their costs more quickly while delivering good quality service.” 
“With the Government facilitating the process towards DTT at the earliest possible time, the Government will also be reaping the benefits of the digital dividend soonest,” it concluded. - dated 08 August 2011, 10:32 AM.
Source: Newsbytes Philippines

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