Friday, November 18, 2011

Business World: Digital TV rules out next year

The regulatory body tackling the digital terrestrial TV rules states the Implementing Rules and Regulations roll-out on the first half of 2012. The National Telecommunications Commission is set to update the IRR adding the Migration Plan, a timetable of dates regarding the gradual DTT migration on urban and rural areas. Covering up also are the economic plans for the set top boxes and receivers that will be sold as DTT starts. Read the article after the jump.

THE NATIONAL Telecommunications Commission (NTC) may issue the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the country’s digital television standard within the first half of next year, an official said earlier this week.

This, as the NTC said it will need to add a “migration plan” in the IRR, which was planned to be issued last April.

“We might not finish it (the IRR) by year-end because we will be adding a migration plan from analog to digital TV,” Gamaliel A. Cordoba, NTC Commissioner, said in a telephone interview.

“It might [come out] within the first half [of next year],” he added.

The migration plan, he said, will provide the timetable of implementation of the digital TV standard.

“It will also contain how much the government, broadcasting firms and the public will need or are projected to spend,” Mr. Cordoba explained further.

Government will be spending for the spectrum auction of TV signals, broadcast firms will spend for infrastructure needed to roll out digital TV signals, while the public will need to purchase set-top boxes or new TV sets, Mr. Cordoba noted.

Moreover, the migration plan will delve into how transition to digital TV will be implemented per area in the country.

“We will consider whether to roll out [digital TV signals] in an urban area first...or to roll out in different areas at the same time,” Mr. Cordoba said.

An NTC technical working group in August had already recommended the adoption of the Japanese Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard.

However, NTC has yet to render a final decision, Mr. Cordoba said.

In June last year, NTC, citing industry support, chose Japan’s standard as the country’s digital TV platform over the European Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) technology.

However, the House of Representatives Committee on Information and Communication Technology last March encouraged a review of which standard to adopt, arguing the upgraded European standard (DVB-2) was not assessed in last year’s review. – Kathleen A Martin, dated 18 November 2011.

Source: Business World

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Malaya: NTC shelves digital TV IRR issuance

So much for the migration plan, the delay is somewhat beneficial to GMA Network, the only broadcaster who voted for European' DVB-T2 standard, according to its Chairman and CEO Atty. Felipe Gozon. Meanwhile, ABS-CBN’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Rolando Valdueza said that the network will have no problem switching their system to DVB-T2 whenever the government still opted for the European standard.

On a lighter note, the only thing awaited is the migration plan to be included in the Implementing Rules and Regulation. Read the whole article after the break.

The much-awaited issuance of the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) on Digital Terrestrial Television will most likely not happen this year.

Gamaliel Cordoba, commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), told Malaya Business Insight in a phone interview that the government had asked the NTC, along with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), to make a "migration plan" for the smooth shift from analog to digital TV.

Cordoba said that the migration plan must be included in the IRR.

"The migration plan will be included in the IRR," Cordoba said, adding that the issuance will probably happen by early next year.

The rules were originally scheduled for release in June this year, a year after NTC released Memorandum Circular No. 02-06-2010 which sets the standards for digital TV broadcast service.

NTC has chosen Japan’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) as the country’s sole standard for DTT, but the new administration asked the NTC to conduct another review.

The government wants the NTC to compare between European and Japanese standards and find out which is better for the country in terms of technical and cost effectiveness.

Although the country has chosen Japanese standards over the European, the government has yet to sign a formal agreement with Japan. .

The NTC has established a technical working group composed of stakeholders of the television broadcast industry, including the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), for the formulation of the implementing rules and regulation for DTT.

KBP and its members were in favor of Japanese standard because of its affordable set-top boxes and the assistance that the Japanese government promised the Philippines.

Some TV networks have undertaken test broadcasts of digital broadcast using ISDB-T, namely ABS-CBN, Net 25, RPN, IBC 13, Channel 4 and SBN.

But GMA Network Inc., a KBP non-member, preferred Europe’s Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial 2 (DVB-T2).

Despite the broadcast firms’ different views, the country’s top 3 broadcast stations (GMA, ABS-CBN and TV5) have been investing for the digitalization of their network.

ABS-CBN has estimated to spend P3 billion for migration to Digital TV, P500 million of which have already been spent for the transmitter, acquisitions and film rights, according to Rolando Valdueza, the company’s chief finance officer.

Among the three broadcast network, ABS-CBN through its cable network Sky Cable, introduced its DTV services last May, ahead of its competitors.

The DTV boxes are priced one-time at P2,500 with five free channels and better signal.

The network has conducted test broadcast for the DTT using ISDB-T in Mexico in Pampanga and the towns of San Miguel, San Ildefonso and San Rafael in Bulacan.

Valdueza said that although the company started to conduct a test using Japanese technology, if the government reversed its decision in favor of European standard, it "will have no major impact on the company."

He added that another three to six months delay in issuances of IRR is still "doable".

The delay, however, works in the favor of the GMA Network Inc.

Felipe Gozon, GMA chairman and CEO, said that the delay in the issuance of the IRR has no impact on his company.

"It is good for us. Our people here cannot yet afford [set-top box], you have to give them time, for them to accept the Digital transition were talking to millions of customers," Gozon said.

GMA has allocated P600 million for digital TV.

He stressed, however, that GMA’s equipment are digital ready.

The DTT allows the broadcast network to deliver multiple programs on single channel, using one transmitter, so consumers can watch the programs earlier aired at their own time.

This will also pave the way for the introduction of the mobile TV services, allowing users to watch the station’s TV program via phone.

The Philippines will be the first in Asia to adopt the Japanese standard for digital TV. – Myla Iglesias, dated 16 November 2011

Source: Malaya

Monday, November 7, 2011

The IECEP Exhibition 2011 Rundown


Last November 3 to 5, the Institute of Electronics Engineers of the Philippines (IECEP) conducted its annual conference, exposition and exhibition at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. The premiere organization of the country’s electronics engineers once again highlighted some of the best talks for the continuous efforts on profession’s education. Aside from that, alongside with the seminars, the IECEP showcased exhibitors from the top companies from the broadcast, telecommunications and networking systems, digital electronics and other related fields of electronics engineering.


For DTV Pilipinas, we joined the group of the Society of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians of the Philippines or SBETP under Engr. John Achilles Denna, the organization’s secretary. Aside from him, the former president and the man who brought ISDB-T here in the Philippines, Engr. James Santiago, is also present in the said event to represent his company, Village Island, one of the three companies who made the new PTV and Gem HD’s datacasts possible. Among those companies under the SBETP booth were the Integrated Services for Digital Television (ISDTV), the Philippines’ future digital terrestrial television tagging, Village Island, Eagle World Development (EWD), Access Co. Ltd., and Itochu Cable.


The whole booth of the SBETP features the ISDB-T, or the Integrated Services Digital Broadcast, the country’s digital terrestrial television standard adopted from Japan last 11 June 2010. The SBETP, along with the KBP, are known to be supportive of the ISDB-T since its arrival in 2008. Itochu Cable highlights some of the broadcast’s cabling systems like the channel distribution, automated video playout, multi-screen and cable internet. They also feature some of the ways in digital TV broadcasting.


From Access Co. Ltd. under Mr. Hideoki Carlos Ito and Mr. Susumu Sato, they showcased the company’s efforts on trialing data broadcast through Gem HD and PTV’s digital TV channels. With data broadcast, or simply datacast, a user can check out the latest data information real-time on TV while watching programs. These datacasts are broadcasted in simulcast with the video streams of a TV station.


DSC_1434They also do the efforts of simulating a digital TV broadcast transmission using their own transmitter system. While broadcasting, Mr. Sato calibrates the transmission’s streams and data broadcast while we’re checking their booth. Along with the transmission were featuring the Sharp Aquos Phone 923SH from Softbank (which wDSC_1431ill have us a review soon), and a PlayStation Portable (PSP) with 1seg TV tuner connected on the game console. Those devices shows the Access’ data broadcast streams on 1seg phones. Beneath the booth is a 32” Sharp Aquos Quattron TV connected to a full-seg set-top box from Eagle World Development (EWD), showing the full-seg SD stream broadcasted and the datacast on a television.


What wowed us was the Eagle World Development’s booth of the company’s CEO, Mr. Kenji. The company showcased some of the ISDB-T digital TV receivers they will be offering in the near future once the digital television has been commenced. Some of their receivers were set-top boxes, all capable of receiving high-definition (HD) television broadcast through HDMI, and also features datacast and Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS), the most essential feature of the ISDB-T. Though the EWBS haven’t been demonstrated yet publicly, even inside the IECEP exhibition, we were told by Mr. Kenji that those boxes will surely be capable of receiving emergency warnings when a TV network will once tested the service. Sadly, only one set-top boxes were seen in the booth, but we expect to have them in the next IECEP exhibition. Two of them we want to see is the ISDB-T/DVB-S combo box and the set-top box with Wi-Fi dongle support, which can be used for return channels of datacast streams.


They have the prototype of the full-seg ISDB-T mobile TV tuner for vehicles. It has a dual TV tuner inside, though we forgot to ask how do those work since they only show the tuner itself without trials, capable of receiving high-definition (HD) television broadcast but it doesn’t have an HDMI port. What it has is a D-Tanshi connector, a popular television port in Japanese TV sets, which is also capable of carrying HD signals over its connection. Along with the D-connectors are the popular analog RCA I/O ports and two antenna ports. It also has a mini-BCAS or the Broadcast Conditional Access System card slot, which is used for encrypted television channels usually offered by pay-TV services, a USB slot used for firmware upgrade, and an infra-red connector for remote controls.


A portable TV is also present in the EWD’s booth. This device includes 1seg mobile TV shown in a 5” TFT LCD screen. It can handle popular music, photo and video files. It also has FM transmitter for car stereos and games for touchscreen but the prototype doesn’t have any. E-books are also readable by the tablet, but it only supports TXT file, which we expect it supports Adobe PDF files. What unique feature it has is the GPS navigation system. Badly, the GPS cannot be tracked inside the SMX since it is heavily-shielded. It contains MicroSD and SDHC slot, 3.5 mm. earphone jack, a 3.5 mm. video-out jack and a mini-USB port on the side.


Next in the package is a tiny square 1seg USB TV tuner connected on a netbook. It is quite smaller compared to a five-peso coin (as shown below). The tuner has a vertical coax whip antenna with a mini-F-type connector at the end of the line. It has remote control in the package, and a mini-disc as its software inclusion. The software is currently in evaluation version, but once it is marketed, the software included will be finally licensed as for EWD. The software can support timeshifting and recording 1seg programs on the computer, apart from EPG support.


Last but not the least, is the prototypes of the EWD 1seg phones which we featured months ago via ISDB-T Philippines Facebook page. It comes in black and fuchsia pink, and is quite similar to those from MyPhone, Cherry Mobile and Torque since its UI is almost the same to Shanzai’s. It has a tactile QWERTY keyboard, 2.2” QCIF-resolution LCD screen, a single VGA camera (which is contrary to what it is written on the poster) with LED flash, a loud speaker with built-in K-Digital audio amplifier insider (well, we don’t know what’s that either), and most of all, it features a quad-SIM capability on a quadband GSM network. It does support popular music and video files and far more is it has dual TV tuner inside, one for analog NTSC and one for digital 1seg ISDB-T.


On the UI, the ATV (analog TV) and DTV (digital TV) were separated from each other. We think it is better to make those reception combined in one application, but the phones are still prototypes, and may be subjected to change. Both the analog and digital TV tuner scanning were quite fast (but in fact, the real theory is analog should scan faster than digital since the latter requires signal decoding and synchronization). The sound is superb, though it breaks when it reaches its max level. But thanks to 3.5 mm. earphone jack, any type of headsets can be supported by the phone. The phone has a micro-USB port, which can be used for computer data transfer and power charging. It is tentatively and approximately cost around P 4,000 to P 5,000 in the market when officially available.


After we’ve seen those devices, we we’re able to talk to some of the people around the booth, especially with Mr. Kenji of EWD. We exchanged some ideas, and he’s very open to our suggestions. Particularly, we’re hoping for a full-seg USB TV tuner for PCs and laptops since most of the people now are into mobility. Apart from that, we’ve also suggested to have a 1seg phone dongle for any mobile phones that will support digital TV. Mr. Kenji said that EWD will also have a prototype of the full-seg USB TV tuner soon. Luckily, he gave the tiny 1seg TV tuner to Admin-3 after the exhibition as a present since we’ve supported the EWD’s drive in the exhibition that whole day.


Aside from that, we have also the chance to talk to Mr. Sato of Access Co. Ltd. about the datacast, and we reminded of Gem HD’s datacast over 1seg, since only PTV had changed totally its whole data broadcast from full-seg to 1seg. He said the concern will be fully polished soon since Gem HD’s side is open for an upgrade and the service is still in trial.


Cutting the whole story short, the whole IECEP exhibition was more fun than last year’s. The campaign for ISDB-T and the road to digital terrestrial television is being strengthened as early as today for us to being educated and informed in the future’s forthcoming. People passed by the booth were amazed of the technology and we even had a chance to explain how it works, and they believed to what DTV has to succeed. Next up will be the KBP Top Level Management that will be held at Clark, Pampanga on the next week and we expect another showcasing of receivers and transmission system for digital broadcast of the future.


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