- Digital Television
- Digital Television in Portugal
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Digital Television in Portugal
1. What is Digital Television?
Television consists, according to Law no. 27/2007 of 30 July, of the ''unencrypted or coded transmission of moving images with or without sound, through an electronic communications network, intended for simultaneous reception by the general public''.
For several decades this transmission through space (satellite and terrestrial broadcasting) and, more recently, over mixed networks of fibre optic and coaxial cable, was based on analogue technology.
Meanwhile, innovation and development has provided more efficient means for recording, storing and processing electrical signals as well as the possibility of transmission in digital rather than analogue form. The range of sounds and images captured by a television camera, including related data, is converted into a sequence of bits and transmitted to receivers, which through an external set top box or already incorporating this functionality, convert these bits into sound, image and information.
Digital television is the name used for the technology that enables the transmission of the digital television signal, offering considerably better quality - due, among other things, to greater immunity from disturbances in the picture - and providing space for more television channels, as well as other possibilities. Digital transmission replaces analogue transmission bringing advantages over various types of support such as cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting.
In Portugal, digital television is already provided over the following supports: cable, satellite, FWA (fixed wireless access), xDSL / IP (digital subscriber line) or UMTS (third generation mobile service system).
The public tenders for the introduction of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in Portugal were launched in February 2008. DTT is an alternative platform for access to digital television, which differs technologically from analogue terrestrial TV, which should be replaced by 2012.
2. How can I receive the Digital Television?
In Portugal, with the exception of the terrestrial platform, all platforms that support television services provide digital broadcasting, in some cases alongside analogue broadcasting, particularly using cable and satellite. In Portugal, is it possible to access television content in digital form, through the following types of networks and technologies:
- Cable distribution networks;
- Satellite, including DTH (Direct-To-Home);
- Fixed wireless access networks (FWA) for specific applications of cellular television broadcasting in the 27.5-29.5 GHz band;
- IPTV based on infrastructure supported over metallic pairs, using xDSL technology - a set of digital subscriber line technologies - capable of transforming copper lines, for example ordinary phone lines, into high-speed digital lines;
- Third generation mobile system services (UMTS - Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems).
The introduction of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), which in the future will be generally accessible to the national population, will also enable the creation of conditions for achieving the goals envisaged in the EU for the closure (switch-off) of analogue broadcasting by 2012.
3. What are the advantages of digital television?
The processing and transmission of signals in digital form has several advantages over the analogue format. It enables television operators to provide more and better services to their customers, including:
- Better quality in terms of picture (including 16:9) and sound (e.g. Dolby Digital 5.1);
- Interactivity, enabling the emergence of new services and access to more information;
- Compatibility with computers and the Internet;
- High definition television (HDTV);
- Multimedia convergence, given that digital format allows data, voice and image to be transmitted over the same support.
Beyond these advantages, digital terrestrial television, i.e. digital television over the terrestrial platform, offers additional benefits such as:
- Free access to the large majority of the national population, at a minimum, to the television channels delivered by the current terrestrial analogue system (RTP 1, RTP 2, SIC and TVI across the country and RTP Madeira and RTP Azores in each of the Autonomous Regions ) and also a new channel, the public licensing tender for which was launched on 31 October 2008 with the publication of Administrative Rule no. 1239/2008;
- Impetus, through the coverage and popularity of the terrestrial system, to the development of the information and knowledge society;
- A further stimulation of the Portuguese content, applications and equipment industries;
- The promotion of competition in the electronic communications sector through the emergence of an alternative access platform, namely digital television;
- A more efficient use of the radio spectrum, with the release of frequencies used by the current analogue system, hopefully to be completed by 2012, as recommended by the Community.
4. Why the transition from analogue terrestrial television to digital terrestrial television?
On 24 May 2005, the European Commission adopted a Communication on "Accelerating the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting", which sets out the community policy objectives for this transition and proposes 2012 as deadline for the closure (switch-off) of analogue transmissions in all Member States.
Subsequently, on 16 November 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in which it underlines this position, and in particular, "encourages the Member States to keep the period of simulcasting as short as possible in order to avoid high broadcasting costs, a temporary aggravation of the problem of capacity scarcity and delay in the switchover”.
The use of the spectrum for broadcasting services, including television, is governed by international frequency plans that are adopted at the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) or CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations). The plan currently in force for digital terrestrial broadcasting was developed by the Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-06) of the ITU, which involved the whole of Europe, Africa, Middle East and some Asian countries. This conference also determined that the analogue/digital transition period, during which analogue television stations will retain entitlement to protection, will end in 2015.
The setting of a definite timetable for the cessation of analogue broadcasting in Europe requires, first of all, that the conditions are created in Portugal so that alternatives are available in advance so that the most part of the national population can access television services. As such, in February 2008 public tenders were launched for the introduction of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). Meanwhile, it is necessary that the universe of users who currently access television services provide themselves with the necessary means to continue to have access in digital format, after the analogue terrestrial system is switched off.
5. How is the transition process being managed in Portugal?
In Portugal, there is a very large number of homes which only have access to television programmes in unrestricted form, supported over the system of terrestrial analogue broadcasting.
Given the intention to deactivate this service, it is important to ensure that in the analogue-digital transition there is migration of existing television programme services (commonly called TV channels) of open transmission held by concession or licensed operators (RTP 1, RTP 2, SIC and TVI across the country and RTP Azores and RTP Madeira in each of their autonomous regions), while a minimum level of provision should remain available to the most part of the national population, without the cost of a monthly charge, together with an offer of competitive paid services.
The digital terrestrial platform is, in the first place, one that allows the current free offer of the analogue system to be replicated in digital format, notwithstanding any others that bring more value or potential, including the possibility of providing end users with a competitive offer to be made available over other platforms, if necessary through the use of complementary technologies.
In this context, and after consulting the market, it was considered appropriate to allocate six frequency usage rights for the service of digital terrestrial television broadcasting, for the support of two operations, which will be based, respectively:
- On a coverage of national scope, which will be associated with Multiplexer A, for the transmission of existing services and a new (in the process of licensing) television programme service to which access is unrestricted (commonly known as open television channels), as well as their transmission in high definition, in non-simultaneous mode, until the closure of analogue broadcasting, where technical conditions allow; and
- Two coverages of national scope, which will be associated with Multiplexers B and C, and three coverages of partial scope of mainland Portugal, which will be associated with Multiplexers D, E and F, intended for transmission of television program services to which access is unrestricted with subscription or restricted (commonly known as pay-television channels).
The number of frequency usage rights reserved for digital terrestrial television broadcasting, the procedure for the allocation of the rights which will be associated with Multiplexer A - by public tender - and the respective regulation were defined by determination of ANACOM of 30 January 2008. The regulation of the public tender was in turn published in Diário da República - ANACOM Regulation no. 95-A/2008 of 25 February. The procedure for allocating the usage rights which are associated with Multiplexers B to F was legally established, i.e. by public tender, the regulation of which was approved by Administrative Rule no. 207-A/2008 of 25 February, subject to rectification in accordance with Declaration no. 8 -A/2008 of 26 February.
Subsequently, on 9 December 2008, ANACOM allocated to PT Comunicações a right to use frequencies, on a national basis, for the provision of the service of digital terrestrial television (DTT) for the transmission of television programme services of free, unrestricted access, associated with Multiplexer A (MUX A).
It is therefore expected that the analogue-digital migration of the terrestrial platform will be concluded by 2012, as recommended by the Community.
6. What are the powers of ANACOM with respect to Digital Terrestrial Television?
As part of the functions of regulation set forth in the Law of Electronic Communications (LCE) and its Statutes, it is part of ANACOM's remit to manage and plan the radio spectrum, whose base and framework instrument is the annually published National Frequency Allocation Plan (QNAF).
In view of the fact that, with digital terrestrial television broadcasting (DTT), there is recourse to the radio spectrum, ANACOM is charged with the implementation of conditions which enable the analogue-digital transition of the terrestrial platform, through the allocation of frequency usage rights, thereby providing for continuity of supply by the respective television operators of television programme services now available through terrestrial analogue, under conditions for end-users which are comparable to those which they currently enjoy.
In general terms, ANACOM is competent not only to decide on the number of frequency usage rights to be allocated for the service of terrestrial digital television broadcasting, but also to approve the procedure for the allocation of frequency usage rights for the transmission of television programmes services with unrestricted access (Multiplexer A) and its respective regulation. In the case of the remaining frequencies (Multiplexers B to F), with the publication of the Television Law, the procedure for the allocation of rights to use frequencies is that which is legally defined, with the respective regulation having been approved by a joint ruling of the members of the Government responsible for the areas of the media and electronic communications.
It should also be noted that ANACOM is bound to pursue a set of regulation objectives including, in this context, the promotion of competition in the provision of electronic services, facilities and services, while seeking to ensure the technological neutrality of regulation. In order to achieve these objectives of regulation, ANACOM may, where necessary, adopt appropriate measures to promote certain services - including digital terrestrial television - which contribute to providing the final consumer with a broader and more diverse offer of networks and services.
Moreover, ANACOM may not take decisions which result in the disruption of the system based on analogue terrestrial broadcasting without creating conditions which enable its continuation by digital means, considering in particular the social and economic impact of such action, as well as its place in an international context, where most countries in the European Union have been introducing DTT and a good portion of them point to 2012 as the deadline for the conclusion of this transition.
ANACOM Conference 2013 - Financing the future, 01.07.2013
World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15), Geneva, 2-27.11.2015
Positions, clarifications and statements issued by ANACOM between 2004 and 2013
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FAQ on Audiotext, Digital Terrestrial Television - DTT, International Roaming, Licences for land mobile service private radiocommunications networks, Local Loop Unbundling, Message-Based value Added Services, National Numbering Plan, Operator Portability, R&TTE Regulatory Framework, Telephone Service at a Fixed Location and Universal Service, VoIP