The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has published its plan for the Philippines migration to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting. Formed in 2016, DICT’s DTT migration plan outlines the long-awaited technical standard, timeframe and implementation strategy for the Philippines shift to DTT broadcasting. The Philippines will adopt the Japanese Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard for its DTT network. Under the migration plan, DICT expects 95% of Filipino households will be watching DTT broadcasts by 2023.
Implementation of the DICT plan will be done in partnership with several Government agencies including the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for implementation and regulation, Department of Finance (DOF) for funding, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for providing incentives to small scale broadcasters, Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) for e-waste management, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for economic impact whilst the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will handle financial subsidies for digital set top box purchases.
The 14 million Filipino TV households can expect a better TV viewing experience with higher quality audio and video signals and new services such as datacasting following the transition from analogue to DTT broadcasting. Importantly, digital services will also provide a more effective and efficient means of communication for the country in times of disaster. For example, the ISDB-T standard has an integrated Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS) to provide early warning messages for disaster preparedness and guidance on evacuation, food provisions, and medical assistance during natural disasters such as a tsunami or earthquake. The EWBS is a key reason why the Philippines have chosen the Japanese standard ISDB-T over the European Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2), Chinese Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcast (DTMB) and US Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards. Another reason is cost. For example, mobile phones and dongle devices that can receive Japanese ISDB-T digital broadcasts are less expensive than those using the DVB-T2 European digital broadcast technology.
Meanwhile, the switchover to DTT will release frequencies in the very high frequencies (VHF) band, previously used for analogue terrestrial broadcasting that can be used for mobile broadband services. As a result, IHS Markit expect the transition to digital to foster a more competitive environment for broadcasters and mobile operators alike to offer new services in the Philippines. In addition, the transition to digital will improve the country’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products and services which will help bolster the economy and overall national development.