Portuguese DTT to start in April

Portugal Telecom, the country's main telco, announced it will fulfill what it promised last April and launch DTT services on April 29. This will be the first national pilot, covering 8 to 12 cities which will be selected over the next few weeks.

According to Zeinal Bava, CEO of Portugal Telecom, DTT coverage will reach 80% of national territory next December and the whole country by 2010. Portugal's switch over is planned for January 1 2011.

Portugal will have two types of set-top boxes: basic, so-called zapper boxes, costing around Ä50 as wel as more complex ones whose price will depend on the services they provide.

Apart from the channels already announced such as national public broadcasters RTP1 and RTP and private ones such as SIC and TVI and a fifth channel, another multiplex with capacity for HD channels will be offered to all DTT broadcasters. That means the MUX for the HD signals will be shared among all these broadcasters.

But Francicso Pinto Balsem‚o, CEO of Grupo Impresa which owns SIC, has critiziced the financing of the DTT switch saying the State should stump up for switch over costs. He also suggested the use of the radioelectric spectrum for the broadcasting of DVB-H once the transition from analogue to digital television is made.

Portugal has just created the DTT Forum, an independent association gathering the different broadcasters, manufacturers, retailers, content producers and distributors. The forum aims to make the population aware of the need to adapt to the new television and plans for analogue switch off.