PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has given the go-signal to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to begin the groundwork for the migration of the Philippines to digital terrestrial television using the Japanese system, a Palace official said Tuesday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a regular press briefing, admitted that the country’s migration to digital TV from analog would entail some amount of money from the consuming public since the people have to purchase set-up box for their current television sets if they opt not to buy new sets which are already digitally-capable.
He said the Philippines, like the 15 other countries, has chosen to adopt the integrated service digital broadcasting-terrestrial (ISDB-T) system that was developed by Japan. The ISDB-T paves the way for digital broadcast in the entire country, Coloma said.
The decision to adopt the Japanese technology was reached after a series of consultations by the President’s economic team, the Department of Science and Technology and the NTC with various stakeholders, including broadcasters. The last public hearing was held on October 29 where major stakeholders approved the draft memorandum circular for the ISDB-T system.
“All the major broadcasters attended the public hearing and there were no noted objections to the issuance of the said memorandum circular,” Coloma said.
“The Philippines is joining other Asean member countries in switching over from analog to digital broadcasting,” Coloma said.
“Such move will provide free-to-air digital TV signal to televiewers and consumers that is clearer even if they are in remote areas. The choice of this system was announced by President Aquino to the Philippine media delegation at the recent Asean summit in Brunei Darussalam,” he said.
According to Coloma, the President emphasized the new system is aligned with the government’s objective of zero-casualty in times of calamities.
He said the presidential directive will phase out analogue transmission in approximately two to three years.
He stressed more than 20 typhoons strike the Philippines every year. With six active faults, the country is situated within the Pacific ring of fire thereby exposing the Filipino people to constant danger and adversity.
To address this challenge, Coloma said the NTC ascertained the compatibility of the ISDB-T system with mobile devices since there are approximately 95 million mobile phone subscribers. This facility, Coloma said, may also be accessed through other mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, game consoles and the like.
He said ISDB-T has a built-in early warning system to enable people with TV sets, mobile phones and other hand-held gadgets with TV receivers to receive early warning announcements and advisories from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council.
It has also a built-in mobile transmission that can send early warnings to more than 100 million mobile phone users in the country at the shortest possible, Coloma said.
“These features are very much applicable to the Philippines as we have the same situation as Japan in terms of natural calamities,” Coloma explained.
“This development is most relevant to a country prone to natural calamities and will help increase our reaction and response to calamities. The President is glad that our broadcasters are one with the government in adopting the Japanese system for the same reasons,” he said.
“Another factor is the lower cost for acquiring a set top box compatible with existing television sets. We expect that by yearend 2013, the NTC, in coordination with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, will be able to conduct public consultations leading to the promulgation of the implementing rules and regulations,” Coloma said.
Asked of the possible cost in availing the new technology, Coloma only cited the amount of each dongle, which could be attached to a mobile phone. He said that this could cost $11 per piece based on an order quantity of 500,000.
He failed to mention the cost of a set-up box for an analog TV set, but reports said it could be less than one thousand pesos each. (SDR/Sunnex)
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