Digital terrestrial television

Digital terrestrial television
List of digital television broadcast standards
DVB standards (Europe)
DVB-S (satellite)
DVB-T (terrestrial)
DVB-C (cable)
DVB-H (handheld)
ATSC standards (North America/Korea)
ATSC (terrestrial/cable)
ATSC-M/H (mobile/handheld)
ISDB standards (Japan/Latin America)
ISDB-S (satellite)
ISDB-T (terrestrial)
ISDB-C (cable)
SBTVD/ISDB-Tb (Brazil)
DTMB standards (China)
DTMB-T/H (terrestrial/handheld)
CMMB (handheld)
DMB standards (Korean handheld)
T-DMB (terrestrial)
S-DMB (satellite)
Frequency bands
v · d · e
DTT broadcasting systems by country

Digital terrestrial television (DTTV or DTT) is the technological evolution of broadcast television and advance from analog television, which broadcasts land-based (terrestrial) signals. The purposes of digital terrestrial television, similar to digital versus analogue in other platforms such as cable, satellite, and telecommunications, are reduced use of spectrum and more capacity than analogue, better-quality picture, and lower operating costs for broadcast and transmission after the initial upgrade costs. A terrestrial implementation of digital television (DTV) technology uses aerial broadcasts to a conventional television antenna (or aerial) instead of a satellite dish or cable television connection.

Competing variants of broadcast television systems are used around the world. Advanced Television Standards Committee created the ATSC standards that use an ATSC tuner in North America and South Korea, an evolution from the analogue National Television Standards Committee (NTSC) standard. Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T) is used in Japan, with a variation of it used in most of South America, while DVB-T is the most prevalent, covering Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia and some countries of Africa. DMB-T/H is China's own standard (including Hong Kong, though Hong Kong's cable operators use DVB); the rest of the world remains mostly undecided, many evaluating multiple standards. ISDB-T is very similar to DVB-T and can share front-end receiver and demodulator components. Several European countries have switched from analogue to digital terrestrial television, with the rest hoping to have completed the switchover mostly by 2012.



DTTV is transmitted on radio frequencies through terrestrial space in the same way as standard analog television, with the primary difference being the use of multiplex transmitters to allow reception of multiple channels on a single frequency range (such as a UHF or VHF channel) known as subchannels.

The amount of data that can be transmitted (and therefore the number of channels) is directly affected by channel capacity and the modulation method of the channel.[1] The modulation method in DVB-T is COFDM with either 64 or 16-state Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM). In general, a 64QAM channel is capable of transmitting a greater bit rate, but is more susceptible to interference. 16 and 64QAM constellations can be combined in a single multiplex, providing a controllable degradation for more important program streams. This is called hierarchical modulation.

New developments in video compression have resulted in the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standard which enable three high-definition television services to be coded into a 24 Mbit/s European terrestrial transmission channel.[1]

The DVB-T standard is not used for terrestrial digital television in North America. Instead, the ATSC standard calls for 8VSB modulation, which has similar characteristics to the vestigial sideband modulation used for analogue television. This provides considerably more immunity to interference, but is not immune — as DVB-T is — to multipath distortion and also does not provide for single-frequency network operation (which is in any case not relevant in the United States).

Both systems use the MPEG transport stream and H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2 video codec specified in MPEG-2; they differ significantly in how related services (such as multichannel audio, captions, and program guides) are encoded.

Advantages and disadvantages


  • Digital presentation tends to be better overall, particularly with a good signal, due to the elimination of visible interference and other effects such as ghosting.
  • With a weaker signal there is little perceptible difference in digital presentations.
  • It is easier to obtain the optimum digital picture than the optimum analogue picture.
  • Many more channels can fit on the same spectrum under digital transmission.
  • Interactive (red button) services can be provided.


  • It can be quite difficult to adjust the antenna, because of the lack of feedback that would be provided by a gradually degraded analog picture. The picture is usually either totally on or totally off, providing no information about which direction to move the antenna. A signal meter provided on most tuners helps considerably with this problem, but some televisions lack a signal meter. The same problem can also make it very difficult to select and test antennas.
  • New equipment (set-top box) may be required.
  • Increased electricity consumption by the digital receiving equipment if both TV and additional set-top box is plugged.
  • An upgraded antenna installation may be required.
  • Analogue requires lower signal strength to get a viewable picture. By extension, digital does not degrade as gracefully as analogue. This is because digital signal transmission suffers from the cliff effect; meaning that once the signal degrades beyond a certain point, the receiver fails to decode the signal and cannot present the expected output.
  • Switching channels is slower because of the time delays in decoding digital signals.


DTTV is received either via a digital set-top box (STB) or integrated tuner included with television sets, that decodes the signal received via a standard television antenna. However, due to frequency planning issues, an aerial capable of receiving a different channel group (usually a wideband) may be required if the DTTV multiplexes lie outside the reception capabilities of the originally installed aerial.[2] This is quite common in the UK; see external links.

Indoor aerials are even more likely to be affected by these issues and possibly need replacing.[3]

DTT around the world and digital television transition

Main articles: List of digital television deployments by country, Digital television transition (aka Analog Switchoff (ASO) or Digital Switchover (DSO))



Two digital terrestrial television receiving antenna on the roof, upper highly installed antenna facing to Tokyo Tower through over neighbor high building and lower one to another Local Television Stations in Kantō Plain of Japan until Tokyo Sky Tree operates. Upper antenna direction shall be slightly changed to Tokyo Sky Tree thereafter. (For ISDB-T system)
Simple and low cost ISDB-T Set-top box (tuner) with remote control

The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and DPA (The Association for Promotion of Digital Broadcasting-Japan) jointly set the specification and announced a guideline for "simplified DTT tuners" with price under 5,000 Japanese yen on 25 December 2007. MIAC officially solicited manufactures to put it on the market by end of March 2010 (end of fiscal year 2009). MIAC is estimating that 14 million, at maximum, traditional non-digital TV sets remain and need the "simplified DTT tuner" to be adapted even after complete transition to DTT after July 2011; it is aiming to avoid the disposal of large numbers of useless TV sets without such a tuner at one time.

On 20 December 2007, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association set rules for Digital Rights Management for DTT broadcasting, allowing consumers up to 10 time of dubbing of entire TV program with video and audio into Blu-ray Disc recorder etc. by naming "Dubbing 10"(ja:ダビング10) (actually up to 9 times of copy, then 1 time or last time of move). The broadcasting with "Dubbing 10" was supposed to start at about 4:00 a.m. on 2 June 2008, but was postponed after long talks with the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers, then confirmed to start about 4:00 a.m. on 4 July 2008. The manufacturers of DVD recorders and associated DTT recorders will make unit conforming to the "Dubbing 10" rule, and some manufacturers will create firmware downloads to update their recorders' internal software for existing users.

On 3 April 2008, DPA (The Association for Promotion of Digital Broadcasting-Japan) announced that a total of 32.71 million of DTT (ISDB-T) receiving TV sets (except 1seg receiver) are installed in Japan as of the end of March 2008. DPA also announced a guideline for manufacturers who make the DTT receive, record and replay unit which operate with Personal computers on 8 April 2008. This add-on unit operates on USB or PCI BUS, and started to sell on reservation basis from late April and put on retail store in mid. May 2008.

On 8 May 2008, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced that 43.7% of homes have DTT (ISDB-T) receiving TV and/or Tuner with DVD recorder by end of March 2008, which was 27.8% in one year before, and expecting 100% by April 2011.

On 27 April 2009, National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan (NAB) revealed its official mascot, Chidejika, to replace Tsuyoshi Kusanagi as the face of NAB after he was arrested on suspicion of public indecency.

On 3 September 2009, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced the procurement under bidding 5,000-8,000 sets of "simplified DTT tuners" with remote control to apply "Analog to digital transition rehearsal program" in Suzu, Ishikawa, citywide transition practice. The set should be delivered until 30 November 2009.[4] The program is aiming to examine the transition problem at individuals home in countrywide such as senior and non-technical families. Based on this rehearsal plan, analog TV transmission was interrupted in Suzu and parts of Noto for 48 hours, between noon on 2010-01-22 and noon on 2010-01-24.[5][6]

On 4 September 2009, ÆON announced the low cost "simplified DTT tuners" with remote control for ISDB-T to sell at JUSCO from 19 September 2009. Tuner is produced by Pixela and the first one meeting retail price under 5,000 Japanese yen which is solicited target price to industry by Dpa (The Association for Promotion of Digital Broadcasting (デジタル放送推進協会 dejitaru housou suishin kyōkai?)). Tuner connects to old fashion TV though RCA connector with SDTV quality and some other minimal function.[7]

On 7 September 2009, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications appointed two manufacture I-O Data and Melco among 12 bidder for minimal functioning "simplified DTT tuners" with remote control for ISDB-T of free supply to Japanese Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Tuner connects to old fashion TV though RCA connector with SDTV quality and some other minimal function.[8]

On 24 July 2010 noon, analog TV transmission officially stopped in Suzu and parts of Noto (approximately 8,800 homes) as the rehearsal plan one year ahead of nationwide stop scheduled on 24 July 2011. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications shall watch what type of problem arise in transition to DTT which might apply to nationwide stop.

On 20 April 2011, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications confirmed, and made the resolution by House of Councillors on 8 June 2011, the analog terrestrial TV closedown schedule on 24 July 2011 unchanged, except closedown postponed maximum one year, but rescheduled closedown on 31 March 2012 in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures where heavily damaged by 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[9][10]


In 2005, the Ministry of Information announced their plan to digitalise nationwide free-to-air TV broadcasts led by Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).[11] Trial broadcasts were undertaken, involving one thousand households in the Klang Valley from September 2006 till February 2007. According to the then-Deputy Minister of Information, Chia Kwang Chye, the trial received "very positive" feedback, i.e. "more than 60 percent said the quality of the signal ranged from good to very good. Over 88 percent said the picture quality improved, while 70 percent said the sound quality was better."[12]

According to Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, RTM is expected to fully complete its digitalization in 2012 as part of its three-year restructuring process.[13] Each household, once equipped with the necessary equipment (set-top box or iDTV set) is expected to receive up to 19 channels, seven of which fall under RTM and the rest for private broadcasters such as Media Prima which owns its channels such as TV3, ntv7, 8TV and TV9.[14] Thus far, besides simulcasting TV1 and TV2, RTM is test-airing RTMi, Muzik Aktif and Arena exclusively on the digital TV platform, transmitted at UHF channel 44, modulated at 64QAM.[15] RTM was also expected to launch regional channels for each state and/or territory in Malaysia, making it 20 RTM television channels.[16] Media Prima was expected to commence trials on March 2009.[17]

Malaysia and all other ASEAN nations have selected DVB-T as the final DTV standard, and are expected to switch off analogue broadcasts completely by 2015.[18] On June 2008, participants of the 6th ASEAN Digital Broadcast Meeting from seven south-east Asian countries (including Malaysia) agreed to finalise the specifications of the DTV set-top box for use within ASEAN, and also set up an ASEAN HD Centre to provide training on HDTV content to broadcasters in the region.[19]

Even though RTM's trial was a success, the future of the digital terrestrial television transition has become uncertain, especially after the end of Abdullah Badawi's tenure as the Prime Minister and the beginning of successor Najib Tun Razak's reign in favor of his 1Malaysia concept.

On March 2011, RTM announced that it is also possible that RTM may be planning to switch to DVB-T2 some time in the future to replace DVB-T.[20]


June 11, 2010, National Telecommunications Commission of the Philippines announced that the country will use the Japanese ISDB-T standard.[21][22] The first fully operational Digital TV is GEM-TV49 of the religious group Iglesia ni Cristo.



Australia uses DVB-T. A transition to digital television and a phaseout of analogue television will be completed by December 2013.



Bulgaria launched a free-to-air platform on Sofia region, starting in November 2004. Standards chosen are DVB-T/DVB-T2 and MPEG4 AVC/H.264 compression format. The Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) has said that it received 6 bids for the licence to build and operate Bulgaria's two nationwide DTT networks. A second licence tender for the operation of 3 DTT multiplexes was open until 27 May 2009.[23][24] Following the closing of this process, Hannu Pro, part of Silicon Group, and with Baltic Operations has secured the license to operate three DTT multiplexes in Bulgaria by the country's Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) Bulgaria is aiming to complete the transition to digital broadcasting in December 2012.[25]

European Union

The EU recommended in May 2005[26] that its Member States cease all analogue television transmissions by Jan 01, 2012. Some EU member states decided to complete the transition as early as 2006 for Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and 2007 for Finland.[27] Latvia stopped broadcasting analogue television from June 1, 2010. While Poland and Bulgaria had been looking towards 2015, Poland has now decided for June 2013 and Bulgaria 2012. See section on Poland above. Malta switched on the 1st of November, 2011. It looks likely that ASO will be completed in Europe in 2013 though small hilly underpopulated isolated terrain areas will be awaiting DTT rollout beyond that date.[28][29]


Finland launched DTT in 2001, and terminated analogue transmissions nationwide on 1 September 2007. Finland has successfully launched a mixture of pay and free-to-air DTT services. Digita operates the DTT and Mobile Terrestrial networks and rents capacity to broadcasters on its network on a neutral market basis. Digita is owned by TDF (France).[30][31] The pay-DTT service provider Boxer has acquired a majority stake in the leading Finnish pay DTT operator PlusTV which offers a number of commercial channels for a subscription. It started in October 2006. Boxer already provides pay-DTT services in Sweden and Denmark.[32]

Three nationwide multiplexes are granted to DNA and Anvia for DVB-T2 for High Definition and Standard Definition channel (MPEG4).


France's TNT (Télévision Numérique Terrestre) offers 19 free national channels and 9 pay channels, plus up to 4 local free channels. An 89% DTT penetration rate is expected by December 2008. Free-to-view satellite services offering the same DTT offer were made available in June 2007. Since 30-10-2008 France has four free HD channel (TF1 HD, France2 HD, Arte HD, M6 HD) and one pay TNT HD channel (Canal+ HD) on TNT using the MPEG4 AVC/H.264 compression format. French video website which rate 10/10 the Blu-ray image, rated 8/10 the TNT HD image.

Typically :

  • free TNT channels are broadcast 720×576 MPEG-2 with a VBR of 3.9 Mbits (2.1 to 6.8 as measured)or a CBR of 4.6 Mbits
  • pay TNT channels are broadcast 720×576 MPEG4 AVC/H.264 with a VBR of 3.0 Mbits (1.1 to 6.0 as measured)
  • free TNT-HD and pay TNT-HD are broadcast 1920×1080 (1080i50) MPEG4 AVC/H.264 with a VBR of 7.6 Mbits (3 to max 15M), but were previously broadcast at the lower definition of 1440x1080.

For the audio part AC3 and AAC are used in 192 kbits for 2.0 and 384 kbits for 5.1. Typically up to four audio part can be used:
French 5.1
VO 5.1
French 2.0
Audivision 5.1

The Prime Minister François Fillon has confirmed that the final analogue switch-off date will be 30 November 2011.[33] DTT coverage must reach 91% of a given département before analogue transmissions can be switched off. CSA announced a call to tender for more local DTT licences on 15 June 2009 and 66 new DTT sites went up since May 2009 to expand coverage to cover low population areas.[34][35]

Freesat began broadcasts from the Eutelsat Atlantic Bird 3 satellite from June 2009 as Fransat, providing for those unable to receive DTT signals for terrain reasons in preparation for ASO in 2011. Eighteen channels will be broadcast initially and although free to watch, viewers will need to buy a set top box with smart card for €99 according to article.[36]

The end dates of analogue shutdown are as follows: 2 February 2010: Alsace, 9 March 2010: Lower Normandy, 18 May 2010: Pays de la Loire, 8 June 2010: Bretagne, 28 September 2010: Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne, 19 October 2010: Poitou-Charentes and the middle of the country, November 2010: Franche-Comté and Bourgogne, 7 December 2010: North of the country, First quarter 2011: Picardie and Haute-Normandie, Île-de-France, Aquitaine and Limousin, Auvergne, Côte d'Azur and Corsica, Rhône, Second quarter 2011 (before November 30): Provence, Alpes, Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon.[37][38]


Germany launched a free-to-air platform region-by-region, starting in Berlin in November 2002. The analogue broadcasts were planned to cease soon after digital transmissions are started. Berlin became completely digital on 4 August 2003 with other regions completing between then and 2008. Digital switchover has been completed throughout Germany as of 2 December 2008 and services are now available to 100% of the population following the update of infill for the remaining 10% of transmitters by Media Broadcast who set up broadcast antennas at 79 transmission sites and installed 283 new transmitter stations. More services are to be launched on DTT and some pay DTT channels are or have been launched in various areas such as Stuttgart and soon Leipzig.[39]



  • January 16,[40] 2006: Started its first pilot DTT broadcasts of 1st DTT package using five transmitters in Attica (Hymettus, Parnitha, Aegina): 48 UHF, Central Macedonia (Chortiatis): 56 UHF and Thessaly (Pelion): 53 UHF to distribute the stations Prisma+, Cine+, Sport+ and RIK Sat via its ERT Digital subsidiary, transmitting digitally terrestrial for first time in Greece.
  • September 26, 2007: Broadcasting of 1st DTT package from 26 UHF added in Central Macedonia region from Chortiatis, Central Macedonia (Chortiatis): 26, 56 UHF.
  • October 13, 2007: Broadcasting of 1st DTT package from 42 UHF added in Thessaly region from Pelion, Thessaly (Pelion): 42, 53 UHF.
  • October 31, 2008: Broadcasting of 1st DTT package commenced in South West Thrace (Plaka): 64 UHF.
  • May 6, 2009: Broadcasting of 1st DTT package from Styra added to Attica region, Attica (Hymettus, Parnitha, Aegina, Styra): 48 UHF.
  • October 7, 2009: Broadcasting of 1st DTT package commenced in Arcadia and Argolis (Doliana): 21 UHF.
  • September 27, 2010: Started broadcast of 2nd DTT package in Attica (Hymettus): 52 UHF, Central Macedonia (Chortiatis): 26 UHF (switching off 1st DTT package from 26 UHF in Central Macedonia region from Chortiatis), 1st DTT package in Central Macedonia (Chortiatis): 56 UHF only consisting of television stations ET1, NET, ET3, Vouli Tileorasi, and radio stations NET, Deftero, Trito, ERA Sport, KOSMOS.
  • November 19, 2010: Broadcasting of 2nd DTT package commenced in South West Thrace (Plaka): 58 UHF.
  • December 14, 2010: Broadcasting of 2nd DTT package from Aegina added to Attica region, Attica (Hymettus, Aegina): 52 UHF.
  • January 14, 2011: Broadcasting of 2nd DTT package moved frequency in Central Macedonia region from 26 UHF (switching off 26 UHF) to 23 UHF and added broadcasting also from Philippion from 23 UHF, Central Macedonia (Chortiatis, Philippion): 23 UHF.
  • April 26, 2011: 1st DTT package consists from now on with television stations Vouli Tileorasi, Prisma+, CineSport+ continiuing Sport+ created from the merge of Cine+ and Sport+ stations and RIK Sat, all stations with temporarily MPEG-2 Compression. 2nd DTT package consists from now on with television stations ET1, NET, ET3 and a new Full High Definition television station ERT HD, all stations with H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Compression along with radio stations NET, Deftero, Trito, ERA Sport, KOSMOS.
  • April 27, 2011: ERT HD started pilot High Definition transmissions.
  • May 2, 2011: Broadcasting of 1st DTT package moved frequency in Arcadia and Argolis from 21 UHF to 39 UHF, Arcadia and Argolis (Doliana): 39 UHF.
  • May 27, 2011: Broadcasting of 1st DTT package commenced in Central Thessaly (Dovroutsi): 43 UHF
  • July 29, 2011: Broadcasting commenced in the Gulf of Corinth (Xylokastro): 55 & 61 UHF
  • October 27, 2011: Broadcasting will commence in Aetolia-Acarnania.
  • November 2011: Broadcasting will commence in Corfu.
  • January 5, 2012: Broadcasting will commence in Patra.


ERT - NOVA (pay TV platform):

TV1 Syros started its first pilot broadcasts on November 1, 2008 in Cyclades (Syros): 60 UHF.

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland DTT has been somewhat problematic. Responsibility for DTT following from the plans of Raidió Teilifís Éireann was divided between two government Departments with differing views on its running. This delayed the project, took away its momentum and the economic situation deteriorated so that the opportunity to launch in good conditions was lost. When legislation finally arrived after two years to enable DTT to proceed a private sector model was envisaged similar to the UK. It's TV was the sole applicant for a digital terrestrial television license under the provisions of the Irish Broadcasting Act 2001. It proposed a triple play deployment with Broadband, TV and Digital Radio services. RTÉ was to have a minority stake in its network and sell its majority share. Legislative delays and economic changes however made it financially difficult for RTÉ to get a good price for the network stake and for It's TV to raise the necessary funding to proceed the license. Other DTT deployments, most particularly in the neighbouring UK and in Spain and Portugal in operation around that time also went bust. It's TV failed to get its license conditions varied or to get a time extension to securing funding and its license was eventually withdrawn for non performance.

Under subsequent legislation in May 2007, RTÉ and the spectrum regulator (ComReg)and the broadcasting regulator BCI (now BAI) were mandated to invite applications during 2008 under the Broadcasting (Amendment) Act 2007 and RTÉ and the BCI received licenses from ComReg for spectrum to establish DTT. The BAI, then BCI advertised and invited multiplex submissions by 2 May 2008. RTÉ Networks was required to broadcast in digital terrestrial TV (aerial TV) under the that and the more recent Broadcasting Act 2009 and received an automatic license through the RTÉ Authority. It has been expanding its upgrading its transmission network to digital terrestrial during 2009 which will culimate in 98% coverage by 31 December 2011 with ASO to begin in Summer 2012 in concert with Northern Ireland under the MOU signed with the UK & Irish Governments.[41]

It is also making this network available to the commercial multiplex winner for rental of capacity once negotiations are concluded, rental agreed and a security bond received. <.[42] It has been testing the BAI multiplexes since November 2009 across the network which is publicly receivable with the correct DTT receivers. 1 Mux (group of channel radio wave space) will provide the services of the public service broadcaster and have a 98% population coverage by 31 December 2011. The other three multiplexes will have between 90% and 92% population coverage. Following Analogue Switchover 1 addition PSB mux and 1 or more commercial muxes will be made available for DTT, mobile television, broadband and other services.

The BCI (now BAI) received 3 conditional applications to operate the 3 muxes which were presented in public on 12 May 2008. It decided in principle to allocate the license to Boxer DTT Ltd, a consortium made up of the Swedish pay-DTT operator Boxer and the media group Communicorp at its board meeting on 21 July 2008.[43]

On 20 April 2009, the BCI revealed that Boxer had withdrawn their license, and it was instead given to the runner up applicant OneVision.[44] At the end of April 2010 the negotiations with Onevision ended and they also decided to return the license. On April 29, 2010 the contract was offered to the only remaining applicant, Easy TV.[45][46] The Easy TV consortium informed the BAI on 12 May 2010 that it was declining their offer to pursue negotiations regarding the Commercial DTT Multiplex Licence.[47]

A Houses of the Oireachtas Channel (reportedly shelved in December 2008) and the Irish Film Channel (status unclear though company formed for channel) [48] are enabled for establishment as public service broadcasters on Irish DTT.[49][50]

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland replaced the Broadcasting Complaints Commission, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and the RTÉ Authority and include Awards and Advisory Committees under statutory instrument 389 that gave effect to the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 2009 which dissolved the BCI vesting it and new responsibilities, assets & liabilities and so forth in a new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland on October 1, 2009.[51] That act deals with Analogue switchover.

A DTT Information Campaign was announced by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Irish Government Department to launch in March 2009 ahead of the September 2009 launch of Irish DTT.[52] AS of December 2009, the information campaign has not launched and has been postponed until after Saorview launches in public testing phase.[53] The Information Campaign is to be undertaken by the BAI, with support of the Department.

As of October 30, 2010 FTA DTT, which will be known as Saorview, has launched [54] following a direction from the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, to RTÉ and signing of the RTÉ (National Television Multiplex) Order 2010 (S.I. No. 85 of 2010) on February 26, 2010.[55] The rollout of FTA Saorview DTT will now proceed, and a commercial DTT competition may well be deferred until the economic situation improves.[56]

On 1 July 2010 RTÉ announced that Mary Curtis their current deputy head of TV programming would take on the role of Director of Digital Switchover (DSO).[57]


Gradual switching from analog to digital TV is in progress. A few regions are already completely digital, others are in a transition state (with only a few programs being digital and the others still analog) and some other regions still have to begin switching off analog transmitters. The selected broadcasting standard is DVB-T with MPEG2 video for SD and H.264 video for HD, audio is usually MPEG1. The whole frequency spectrum has been allocated with SFN in mind. Along the original analog free to air channels that will be switched to digital, a few new pay per view platforms came around with the advent of DTT. Worth mentioning is the addition of an experimental free to air HD 1080i channel from RAI which is set to broadcast important sport events like the olympic games or the FIFA world cup.


Luxembourg launched DTT services in April 2006. The national service launched in June 2006. On 1 September 2006, Luxembourg became the first European country to transition completely to DTT. Luxe TV, a niche theme based station, will soon begin broadcasting on the Luxembourg DTT platform, transmitted from the Dudelange transmitter.The aim is to reach audiences in some parts of Germany as well as in Luxembourg.[58][59]

Republic of Macedonia

DTT was successfully launched in November, 2009. It uses MPEG-2 for SD and MPEG-4 for HD. The service was launched by ONE, and the platform is called BoomTV. It offers 42 channels including all national networks and it is available to 95% of the population.[60]


The Netherlands launched its DTT service 23 April 2003, and terminated analogue transmissions nationwide on 11 December 2006. KPN own Digitenne which provides a mix of FTA public channels and paid DTT services.[61] It also provides a mobile broadcast DVB-H service as well as an IPTV service, with DTT the most popular of its products.[62]


DTT launch in Poland is scheduled for Autumn 2009. Regulatory disagreements delayed its tender and approach until resolved recently and the multiplexes available for DTT were reduced to 3 and the 2nd is to be licensed in the Autumn of 2009. The reduction from 5 to 3 enable mobile TV and broadband to get more spectrum allocation. Muxes 2 and 3 may therefore have limited coverage until ASO. Polsat, TVN, TV4 and TV Puls have officially applied to reserve space on the countries first multiplex set to start in September. Wirtualne Media is given as the source of the story. The public broadcaster's three main channels TVP1, TVP2 and TVP Info have already been allocated capacity on the multiplex.

Poland is to switch off analogue transmissions by 31 July 2013. A mobile TV license has also been awarded in Poland to Info TV FM to use DVB-H standard.[63]


Portugal launched its DTT service on 29 April 2009 available to around 20% of the Portuguese population and Portugal Telecom expects to reach 80% of the population by the end of the 2009. Airplus TV Portugal that was set up to compete for a licence to manage Portugal's pay-TV DTT multiplexes, will dissolve as it didn't get the license and a Portuguese court ruled not to suspend the process for the awarding of a licence to Portugal Telecom, based on a complaint submitted by Airplus TV Portugal. Surprisingly (or maybe not), after Airplus TV Portugal has been dissolved, Portugal Telecom informed that will not honour the pay-TV DTT multiplexes licence obligations. ANACOM, the Portuguese communications authority, has accepted. Portugal will thus haveonly one active multiplexer.[64]


In Romania, broadcasting regulations have been amended so that DTT service providers have only a single licence rather than the two previously required by the National Audiovisual Council (CNA). DTT services are set to launch in December 2009 using the MPEG-4 (H.264 AVC) compression format[65] following the Ministry of Communications publication of a strategic plan for the transition to digital broadcasting. According to Media Express, it envisages a maximum of five national UHF multiplexes, a national VHF multiplex and a multiplex allocated to regional and local services, all in accordance with the ITU Geneva Conference RRC-06 reports BroadbandTVNews.

The Ministry of Communications (MCSI) estimates that 49% of Romania's 7.5 million households get TV from cable and 27% from DTH services in Romania while terrestrial TV is used by 18% of the TV households. 6% are reported as not able to receive TV transmissions. Subsidies may be offered for those below a certain income to assist switchover for them.[66] Switchover is scheduled for January 2012.[67]

Romkatel, the local representative of Kathrein, have since been awarded the commercial Romanian DTT services license. ZF reports that Romkatel has signed a 12-month contract worth €710,420, having beaten off a challenge from France's TDF. The tender was organised by Romania's National Society for Radiocommunications (SNR).[68] Meanwhile the National Audiovisual Council, in charge of the public service broadcasting sector has awarded digital licences to the public channels TVR1 and TVR2.

According to Media Express, this followed a short debate at the National Audiovisual Council (CNA) about whether to also award licences to the nine remaining public channels, one of which transmits in HD and five are regional.

Romania's first DTT multiplex is likely to have the five leading commercial channels — Pro TV, Antena 1 (Romania), Prima TV, Kanal D Romania and Realitatea TV — as well as TVR1 and TVR2.

The National Audiovisual Council (ANCOM), will most probably award the transmission network contract for this to the national transmission company Radiocommunicatii.[69]


In Spain most multiplexes closed after the failure of Quiero TV, the country's original pay DTT platform. DTT was relaunched on 30 November 2005, with 20 free-to-air national TV services as well as numerous regional and local services. Nearly 11 million DTT receivers had been sold as of July 2008. Positive approval for pay DTT services have reportedly been given by Spain's Ministry of Industry in a surprise move on 17 June of the Advisory Council on Telecommunications and the Information Society (Catsi). IT will now be included in a Royal Decree. A number of leading Spanish media players including Sogecable, Telefónica, Ono, Orange and Vodafone have apparently criticised that as according to Prisa, Sogecable's owner, "it caps a series of policy changes that benefits only a few audiovisual operators, those of terrestrial TV, to the detriment of satellite operators, cable and DSL." There may be appeals lodged against the government's decision.[70]


In Sweden, DTT was launched in 1999 solely as a paid service. As of 2007, there are 38 channels in 5 MUXs. 11 of those are free-to-air channels from a number of different broadcasters. Switch-off of the analogue TV service started on 19 September 2005 and finished on 29 October 2007. Boxer began the deployment of MPEG-4 receivers to new subscribers. Over the next six years from 2008 Sweden will gradually migrate from MPEG-2 visual coding to using MPEG-4, H.264. The Swedish Radio and TV Authority (RTVV) recently announced eight new national channels that will broadcast in the MPEG-4 format. From 1 April 2008 Boxer is also responsible for approving devices to use on the network, will no longer accept MPEG-2 receivers for test and approval. Set Top Boxes must be backward compatible so that they can decode both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 coded transmissions.[71]


Switzerland is digital.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (1998), Sweden (1999) and Spain (2000) were the first to launch DTT with platforms heavily reliant on pay television. All platforms experienced many starter problems, in particular the British and Spanish platforms which failed financially. Nevertheless, Boxer, the Swedish pay platform which started in October 1999, proved to be very successful.

DTT in the United Kingdom was launched in November 1998 as a primarily subscription service branded as ONdigital, a joint venture between Granada Television and Carlton Communications, with only a few channels being available free to air. ONdigital soon ran into financial difficulties with subscriber numbers below expectations, and in order to attempt to reverse their fortunes, it was decided that the ITV and ONdigital brands should align, and the service was rebranded ITV Digital in 2001. Despite an expensive advertising campaign, ITV Digital struggled to attract sufficient new subscribers and in 2002 closed the service. After commercial failure of the Pay TV proposition it was relaunched as the free-to-air Freeview platform in 2002. Top Up TV, a lite pay DTT service, became available in 2004. There is a possibility that a 2nd pay DTT service may launch during 2010/2011 from Sky.

DSO has begun in some areas of the UK and will begin soon in others, spanning over the next few years and reaching completion by the end of 2012. One multiplex for public service broadcasters has been freed up and given over to HD on DTT and some areas will be able to receive Freeview HD in advance of digital switchover using the new 2nd generation DVB-T2 and MPEG4 set top boxes according to Freeview.[72][73]

North America


In Canada, analogue switch-off was mandated by regulatory authorities for all provincial capital cities and all multi-station markets. Analogue would continue in single-station markets and remote areas. With an exception, analogue switch-off in the mandated areas took place on 31 August 2011. The CBC was granted an exception in many smaller multi-station markets, due to the cost of conversion, otherwise the CBC services would have gone dark in many such markets. Most network stations are already broadcasting high-definition digital signals in Toronto, with partial network digital coverage in Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Most networks had been concerned about the August 2011 deadline as not all parts of the country were equipped to receive DTTV by the scheduled date.


In Mexico, digital signals are as 2010 currently on-air in the largest cities, with more cities to be added in descending order of population size, until full national coverage is reached on December 31, 2015.[74] At that point analogue broadcasts will officially end.

United States

In the United States on 12 June 2009, all full power U.S. television broadcasts became exclusively digital, under the Digital Television and Public Safety Act of 2005.[75][76] Furthermore, from 1 March 2007, new television sets that receive signals over-the-air, including pocket sized portable televisions, include ATSC digital tuners for digital broadcasts.[77] Prior to 12 June, most U.S. broadcasters were transmitting in both analogue and digital formats; a few were digital-only. Most U.S. stations were not permitted to shut down their analogue transmissions prior to 16 February 2009, unless doing so was required in order to complete work on a station's permanent digital facilities.[78] In 2009, the FCC will finish auctioning channels 52–59 (the lower half of the 700 MHz band) for other communications services,[79] completing the reallocation of broadcast channels 52–69 that began in the late 1990s.

The analogue switch-off will render all non-digital television sets unable to receive most over-the-air television channels, without an external setbox receiver; however, low-power television stations and cable TV systems are not required to convert to digital until 2011 or later. Beginning 1 January 2008, consumers could request coupons to help cover most of the cost of these converters by calling a toll free number or via a website.[80] Some television stations have also been licensed to operate "nightlights", analogue signals which consist only of a brief repeated announcement advising remaining analogue viewers how to switch to digital reception.

Central America & the Caribbean

Costa Rica

Costa Rica chose Japanese-Brazilian standard ISDB-T as 7th country on 25 May 2010.[81]


Cuba has announced recently that it will decide on the norm to use, within the current year. According to official sources of the MIC (Ministry of Computer science and Telecommunications) the Caribbean island is deciding DVB format used by Europe. At the moment, Cuban specialists are performing tests in both formats but an "analogical blackout" is far away.

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic chose ATSC standards for DTT on August 10, 2010.[82]

El Salvador

In El Salvador chose the American ATSC standard on April 22, 2009.[83]


In Nicaragua will be chosen the Japanese-Brazilian standard ISDB-Tb.


Panama has chosen the European DVB-T standard on 12 May 2009.[84]

South America


Argentine President Cristina Fernández signed on August 28, 2009 an agreement to adopt the ISDB-Tb system, joining Brazil, which has already implemented the standard in its big cities.[85] On air service started from 28 April 2010.[86]


On July 5, 2010 the Bolivian Chancellor signed an agreement with the Japanese Ambassador,selecting the Japanese system with the Brazilian modifications ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestial)[87][88]


In Brazil, they chose a modified version of the Japanese ISDB-T standard, called ISDB-Tb (or SBTVD) in June, 2006. Digital broadcast started in 2 December 2007 in São Paulo and now it is under expansion all over the country. As of 15 September 2009, metro areas of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Goiânia, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Campinas, Vitória, Florianópolis, Uberlândia, São José do Rio Preto, Teresina, Santos, Campo Grande, Fortaleza, Recife, João Pessoa, Sorocaba, Manaus, Belém, Aracaju, Ribeirão Preto, Boa Vista, Macapá, Porto Velho, Rio Branco, São Carlos, São José do Rio Preto, São Luís, Pirassununga, São José dos Campos, Taubaté, Ituiutaba, Araraquara, Feira de Santana, Itapetininga, Sorocaba, Presidente Prudente, Bauru, Campos dos Goytacazes, Londrina, Juiz de Fora, Campina Grande, Caxias do Sul, Franca, Rio Claro and Cuiabá have digital terrestrial broadcasting. By 2013 the digital signal will be available in the whole country. Analogue shut-off is scheduled for 29 June 2016.


On September 14, 2009, president Michelle Bachelet announced that the government had finally decided, after prolonged delays, on a digital television standard. Chile will be adopting the ISDB-T Japanese standard (with the custom modifications made by Brazil). Simulcasting is expected to begin in 2010, with a projected analog switch-off in 2017.[89]


Colombia has chosen the European DVB-T standard on 28 August 2008 It is expected that by year end 2009 some 42% of the Colombian population would be able to receive digital TV coverage.[90]

On December 28, 2010, private networks Caracol TV and RCN TV officially started digital broadcasts[91] for Bogotá, Medellín and surrounding areas on channels 14 and 15 UHF,[92] respectively. State-run Señal Colombia and Canal Institucional had started test digital broadcasts earlier in 2010.[91]


Ecuador chose Japanese-Brazilian standard ISDB-T as 6th country on 26 March 2010.[93][94][95]


Paraguay chose Japanese-Brazilian standard ISDB-T on 1 June 2010.[96][97]


Peru has chosen on 23 April 2009 the Brazilian modified version of the Japanese standard ISDB-T. Agreed with Japan to cooperate for resource exchange and technical transfer on 21 August 2009, and On air service started on Channel 7 of TV Perú from 30 March 2010.[98][99][100]


Uruguay had chosen the European DVB-T standard in August 2007,[101] however disproved it and decided to adopt ISDB-T on 27 December 2010 to follow neighbouring countries.[102][103][104]


In Venezuela, tests are being performed with full deployment to start 2008–2009. DTT will coexist with analogue standard television for some time, until full deployment of the system on a nationwide level is accomplished. 30 September 2009, decided to employ Japanese ISDB-T system under cooperation with Japan, and officially be agreed with Japan in early October 2009.[105][106]

On October 6, 2009, Venezuela has officially adopted ISDB-T with Brazilian modifications. Transition from analog to digital is expected to take place in the next 10 years.[107][108]


On the African continent is still the worldwide trend the European standard "DVB-T2" being the most modern system of broadcasting. Countries that have adopted the standard are: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.[109]

Analogue to digital transition by country

World map of digital television transition progress. Legend:
  Transition completed, all analog signals terminated
  Transition completed for full-power signals only; LPTV stations still being broadcast in analog
  Transition in progress, broadcasting both analog and digital signals
  Transition not yet started, broadcasting analog signals only
  Does not intend to transition, broadcasting analog signals only
  No information available

The broadcasting of digital terrestrial transmissions has led to many countries planning to phase out existing analogue broadcasts. This table shows the launches of DTT and the closing down of analogue television in several countries.

  • Official launch: The official launch date of digital terrestrial television in the country, not the start for trial broadcasts.
  • Start of closedown: The date for the first major closedown of analogue transmitters.
  • End of closedown: The date when analogue television is definitely closed down.
  • System: Transmission system, e. g. DVB-T, ATSC or ISDB-T.
  • Interactive: System used for interactive services, such as MHP and MHEG-5.
  • Compression: Video compression standard used. Most systems use MPEG-2, but the more efficient H.264/MPEG-4 AVC has become increasingly popular among networks launching later on. Some countries use both MPEG-2 and H.264, for example France which uses MPEG-2 for standard definition free content but MPEG-4 for HD broadcasts and pay services.
Official launch
Start of
End of
Albania 2004-07-15 2012/2015 DVB-T MPEG-2 [110]
Andorra 2007-09-25 DVB-T MHP MPEG-2 [111]
Australia 2001-01-01 Regional ASO started 30 June 2010 2013[112] DVB-T (7 MHz channels 6~12 VHF
              and 29~69 UHF)
MHP MPEG-2, H.264[113] [114][115][116][117][118][119][120]
Austria 2006-10-26 2007-03-05[121] 2010[122] DVB-T MHP MPEG-2 [123]
Belgium 2002/2003 2008-11-03 (Flemish Community) 2011 (Francophone Community) DVB-T None MPEG-2 [124]
Argentina 2010-04-28 2019-09-01 ISDB-Tb Ginga H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [125]
Brazil 2007-12-03 2016-06-29 ISDB-T Ginga H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [1]
Bulgaria 2004-11 2009-03 2012, end [25] DVB-T[126] MHP MPEG-4 [127]
Canada 2003-01 2011-08-31 ATSC MPEG-2, H.264(ATSC 2.0) [128]
China 2006 2006 2015 (SARFT reported August 2005) DMB-T/H[129] MPEG-2 [130]
Colombia 2008-08-28 2019-12-31 DVB-T ( 6 MHz ) MHP H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [131]
Costa Rica 2010-05-04 2018 ISDB-T Ginga H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
Croatia 2002-07-09 2002-07-09 2011-01-01[132] DVB-T MPEG-2 [133]
Czech Republic 2005-10-21 2005-10-21 2010-10 DVB-T MHP MPEG-2 [134]
Denmark 2006-03-31 2009-02-01 2009-11-01 DVB-T MHP MPEG-2, H.264 [135][136][137]
El Salvador 2009-04-22 2018-12-31 2019-01-01 ATSC MPEG-2, H.264(ATSC 2.0)
Estonia 2006-12-15 2008-03-31 (Ruhnu island) 2010-07-01 DVB-T MHP planned H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [138][139][140]
Faroe Islands 2002-12 2002-12 2003 DVB-T None MPEG-2 [141]
Finland 2001-08-27 2007-09-01[142] 2007-09-01 DVB-T MHP (abandoned) MPEG-2 [143]
France 2005-03-31 FTA/2006/03/01 Pay DTT[144][145] 2009-02-04 2011 (before November 30)[37][38] DVB-T MHP[146] MPEG-2, H.264[147] [148][149]
Germany 2003-03 2003-03 Regional rollout 2008-12-02 completed DVB-T MPEG-2 / H.264 (Stuttgart for non public channels) [150]
Greece 2006-01-16 Tests[40] 2008-11-01[40] 2015[151] DVB-T MPEG-2 (ERT)
Hong Kong 2007-12-31 2015 DMB-T/H MHEG-5 (TVB) MPEG-2, H.264 [152][153]
Hungary 2008-12-01 2014-12-31 DVB-T H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [154]
Indonesia 2010 2014 2018 DVB-T MPEG-2 [155]
Iran 2009 2015 DVB-T H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [156][157][158]
Ireland 1999–2002 Licensing abandoned;
2006–2008 Trial;
31 October 2010 (90%)[159] DTT launch, 31 December 2011(98%)[160]  Network testing, publicly receivable with MPEG4 compatible equipment pre October 31, 2010.
2011-12-31-coincide with NI[161] 2012, By Q4 likely co-timed with NI(MOU)[162] DVB-T RCT abandoned, MHEG5, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [49][50][163][164][165][166][167][168][169][170][171][172][173]
Israel 2009-08-02[174] June 2011 DVB-T H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, AAC+ V2 [175][176][177][178]
Italy 2004-01-01 2012-12-31 DVB-T MHP MPEG-2, H.264 [179]
Japan 2003-12-01 2011-07-24[9]
Postpone 2012-03-31 in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima[180]
ISDB-T BML MPEG-2 [181][182]
Lithuania 2006 Now expanded nationwide at January 2009 2012-10-29[183] DVB-T MPEG-4 [184]
Luxembourg 2006-04-04 2006-04-04 2006-09-01 DVB-T None MPEG-2 [185]
Republic of Macedonia 2004-05-04 2010-01-01 2012, May DVB-T MHP H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [60]
Malaysia 2006-09 (trials) abandoned 2010 abandoned 2015[186] DVB-T abandoned MHEG-5 abandoned H.264 abandoned [187]
Mexico 2004-07-05[188] 2015-31-12 ATSC MPEG-2, H.264(ATSC 2.0) [189]
Morocco 2007-06-01 2007-03-05[190] 2015[191] DVB-T [192][193]
Netherlands 2003 2003-11 2006-12-11 DVB-T MPEG-2 [194]
New Zealand April 2008 2012-09-30 2013-12-01 DVB-T MHEG-5 H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [195][196][197]
Norway 2007-09[198] 2008-03[199] 2009-12-01 DVB-T MHP H.264/MPEG-4 AVC[200] [201]
Peru 2010-03-30 2023-03-01 ISDB-T Ginga H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [202]
Philippines October 2008 2010 2015-12-31[203] ISDB-T BML MPEG-2, H.264
Poland 2004 (trials)
2009-09-20 DTT Launch
2011-05 2013-07-31[204] DVB-T H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [205][206][207]
Portugal 2009-04-29[208] 2011 2012-04-26[209] DVB-T H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [210]
Romania 2005-12-01, Full:2009-12[65] 2012-12-31 (planned) DVB-T MPEG-4 [69][211][212][213][214]
Russia 2010 2015 DVB-T H.264/MPEG-4 AVC[215] [216]
Slovakia 1999–2004,2005–2009 2010[217] 2012[218] DVB-T MHEG-5 MPEG-2, H.264 [219]
Slovenia 2007 2010-12-01 2011-06-30 DVB-T H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [220]
South Africa 2006-03 2008-11-01 2011-11-01[221] DVB-T MHEG-5 (Future use planned) H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [222]
South Korea 2001 2010-09-01 14:00[223] (Uljin) 2012-12-31[224] ATSC MPEG-2, H.264(ATSC 2.0) [225]
Spain 2000–2005 (Previous and relaunch) 2009 2010-04-03[226] DVB-T MHP MPEG-2, H.264 [227]
Sweden 1999-04-01[228] 2005-09-19 2007-10-29 DVB-T, DVB-T2 (HDTV) MHP MPEG-2/H.264[229] [230]
Switzerland 2001 2002-03 2008-02-25[231] DVB-T [232]
Taiwan 2004-01[233] 2010-07 (Pinglin) 2012-06[233] DVB-T MHP MPEG-2, H.264[233] [234]
Thailand 2011 (trial)[235]
2012[236] 2015–2020[236] DVB-T2 MHEG-5 H.264 [235]
Turkey 2006-02 (trial services) 2007[237] DVB-T [238]
Ukraine 2009-04-01 2012 2015 DVB-T none MPEG-4 [239]
United Kingdom 1998-11-15 2007 (Whitehaven) 2012 DVB-T, DVB-T2 (HDTV) MHEG-5 MPEG-2, H.264 [240]
United States 1998-10-29 2007 ATSC MPEG-2, H.264(ATSC 2.0) [241][242]
Vietnam 2011 Probably not Probably not

See also


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