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Singapore goes for DVB-T2

The latest DVB version of digital terrestrial, DVB-T2, is continuing to gain ground outside its European heartland following announcement of its adoption for Free To Air (FTA) terrestrial services in Singapore by the country’s Media Development Authority.

All FTA TV channels will go fully digital by the end of 2013 using the DVB-T2 standard, including the seven transmitted by FTA broadcaster MediaCorp.

The adoption of DVB-T2 comes after a successful trial in 2011 conducted by MediaCorp and pay-TV operator StarHub, involving about 500 households, demonstrating that the technology worked in the country’s largely urban environment. During switchover, there will be a simulcast period during which both digital and analogue FTA signals will be broadcast to ensure households have time to get set up for digital reception. The switchover will not be completed until 2020, in line with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations relaxed timeframe. Non pay TV customers will need a DVB-T2 digital receiver and an indoor or outdoor antenna to receive digital TV signals on their current TV sets.

The adoption by Singapore follows a vigorous and bullish campaign by the DVB to persuade countries outside Europe to adopt DVB-T2 rather than one of the other variants of digital terrestrial. Currently, DVB-T or DVB-T2 are deployed across much of Europe and Africa apart from the sub-Saharan countries, along with Russia, parts of the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

ATSC reigns in North America including Mexico, ISDB-T in most of South America and Japan, and DTMB in China. The DVB argues that neither ATSC nor ISDB-T exploit the spectral efficiencies now technically possible, being essentially older systems, and that for this reason DVB-T2 is being adopted whenever there is a proper assessment.

This was the case in Colombia, which diverged from the rest of Latin America by announcing in May 2012 it was deploying a DVB-T2 network rather than ISDB-T. The move was not a complete surprise, since Colombia had introduced the first generation DVB-T in 2010, involving a consortium comprising private operators Caracol TV and RCN TV. This consortium deployed 24 transmitters from the Rohde & Schwarz R&S NV8600 family, and these are now being upgraded to DVB-T2.

In Asia Pacific, Malaysia looks like joining neighboring Singapore in adopting DVB-T2, following trials now underway.