ABS-CBN launches DTT service in Philippines

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 11 February 2015

Philippines' broadcaster ABS-CBN is set to launch its digital terrestrial television (DTT) service TVplus on 11 February 2015, using Japan's Integrated Service Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard.

The Lopez-owned company has been investing heavily in DTT technology since 2007, and has conducted DTT trials in more than 1,000 households across the Philippines.

The commercial broadcaster is expected to launch four premium free-to-air (FTA) digital channels, and digital versions of its existing FTA channels, which can be received through a digital set-top box connected to a television set.

In December 2014, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) laid down DTT guidelines to ensure a smooth transition from analogue to digital television (DTV) service delivery in the Philippines.

"With Philippine broadcasting companies going digital, the viewing public will be able to enjoy digital quality viewing in any TV as DTV addresses the issues of poor reception, grainy pictures and choppy audio," Miguel Mercado, head of digital TV marketing, ABS-CBN http://www.abs-cbnnews.com said ahead of the launch.

According to the regulations, operators are required to simulcast their DTT service together with the analogue TV service for one year after being granted authority to provide the digital service.

Very high frequency (VHF) TV operators that fail to simulcast within one year would lose their frequency to other qualified UHF (ultra high frequency) TV operators. Analogue UHF TV operators could either begin their DTT service anytime during the one-year transition period or simulcast their DTT service, depending on the frequency availability.

Any broadcaster with a valid congressional franchise to provide a TV service may apply for a licence to operate a DTT service in the Philippines, as long as it has the financial security and technical capability to install, operate and maintain the proposed network.

The Philippines joins Brazil, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Paraguay in opting for the Japanese ISDB-T DTT standard rather than Europe's DVB-T2.