President of the Office of Telecommunications and Post Regulation, Mr. Witold Graboś, presented a report on the first stage of works regarding terrestrial digital television implementation in Poland. At the conference of 28 May this year, technical conditions for broadcasting of programs and interactive services offered by digital television of DVB-T system were presented.
Among the participants of the conference were representatives of the governmental administration, National Broadcasting Council, Telecommunications Council, television broadcasters (TVP, Polsat, TVN, Canal+) and radio broadcasters (Polskie Radio) as well as representatives of broadcasters, operators and equipment manufacturers united in the National Economic Chamber of Electronics and Telecommunications.
According to the President of URTiP, Mr. Witold Graboś, “necessary frequency resources were arranged and technical requirements prepared for development of new techniques and multimedia technologies. Without governmental strategy program and schedule for implementation of terrestrial digital television, it is difficult to make decisions now regarding final concept of DVB-T network in Poland.”
Features of Digital Television
Terrestrial digital video broadcasting, DVB-T, is a system of compression, coding and modulation of television signal devoted for broadcasting from terrestrial transmitters. This technology offers not only common access and better quality of voice and vision, but also larger number of television programs emitted in one regular channel as well as additional interactive services such as e-mail, e-banking, e-shopping, interactive games, e-learning or customized advertisements. Digitalization enables integrated usage of many digital devices connected to the same network, e.g. digital TV set with a computer, DVD player and telecommunications terminal, as well as easy integration with other digital data transmission networks like GSM and UMTS.
Main advantage of digital television system is increased affectivity in frequency spectrum usage. DVB-T enables broadcasting with transmitters characterized by lower power, simultaneously maintaining the same coverage and is also more resistant to interferences. It will allow installment of digital broadcasting stations in the locations where operation of the analogue transmitters was not possible so far in these channels. Thus DVB-T stations may be used where there is no place for the analogue stations.
What is specific about terrestrial digital television signal DVB-T is that it enables fixed-line receiving using external antenna located on the roof of the building, the same which was used so far to receive analogue television signal. In addition it enables good reception from the small antenna located on the portable television set either inside or outside a building. Proper reception of the digital signal is also possible in motion, e.g. on a bus or train. In the first stage, the fixed-line connection will dominate, however gradually the portable reception will take on as the new stations spread.
Two Ways of Launching Digital TV Terrestrial Network in Poland
Variants elaborated by URTiP differ in terms of the time of simultaneous broadcast of analogue and digital signals as well as the timing from the launch of the first station to the start of the whole network. The first variant requires outlay due to the rollout of the whole network in the short period of time and covering the cost of simultaneous broadcast of the analogue and digital signals. Second variant allows to portion payments related with network rollout. On the other hand it requires intense participation of the State in the project in order to provide all subscribers with digital setup-boxes at the low price or free of charge.
The decision requires analysis of possibilities of Polish government and acceptance of both variants by the society. The projects of implementation of the cross-country DVB-T network require discussion to achieve generally accepted national strategy.
Currently the possibility of implementing seven DVB-T networks is taken under consideration. Five of which, namely DVB1, DVB2, DVB3, DVB4 and DVB5, are entirely new ones and can coexist with the analogue television networks already in operation. Two others (DVB6 and DVB7) may be obtained after the conversion of current public television programs TVP1, TVP2 and TVP3.
The first variant is based on the concept of setting two multiplexes using high power stations in the channels 21-60 (DVB1a and 1b as well as DVB2a and 2b) and possibly the third one in the channels 61-69 (DVB5) keeping simultaneous analogue broadcast. In case of the largest Polish cities, two additional multiplexes shall be set. These additional multiplexes shall use middle-power stations in the channels 21-60 (DVB3, DVB4).
The second variant considers broadcast of four multiplexes in a short time by conversion of some analogue stations into digital ones in successively chosen regions of the country.
1. Simultaneous Emission
The concept considers simultaneous start of operation of the network across the country in two or three stages. However it is important to gain over 50% of coverage at the first stage and finishing the whole process within two / three years. The date when analogue emission ceases will be set after fulfillment of the criterion concerning penetration of digital TV-sets available on the market. Similar variant was applied in the UK, Sweden, Spain and recently in Finland.
Within this variant, it is possible to set two multiplexes in the channels 21-60 using high-power stations with the coverage close to the one of the analogue program TVP2 without the collision with analogue stations working simultaneously. In addition, another network covering the whole country may be planned in channels 61-69.
Additional two multiplexes were planned in order to reach the subscribers in the largest Polish cities with the digital offer, much richer than the analogue one. These two multiplexes will use middle-power stations based on localizations in the capitals of voivodships previous to the administrative reform in Poland.
Success of the variant is doubtful due to the limited digital offer, which is proved by the case of Great Britain (in the first period), Sweden and Spain. In Sweden it is believed that four multiplexes available for all users without additional charges are required to succeed. URTiP’s analyses reveal that the success of the action depends on accessibility of all planned broadcasting stations and the interest of subscribers in the programs.
2. Faster Conversion
This variant concerns usage of accessible channels of the network from the previous variant, i.e. harmonized, not used for the military purposes, and based on the existing infrastructure, as well as the operating analogue high-power stations used by the public television. On the certain area, the analogue high-power stations used by public television shall be digitalized relatively soon after start-up of the first multiplex. As a result minimum four multiplexes shall be offered in most of locations.
The conversion procedure will be repeated on the areas where the international coordination of frequency was finished and the broadcasting infrastructure is available until the coverage of whole country will be achieved.
It is foreseen that each stage of the process will last from 6 to 12 months depending on the number of broadcasting stations and the size of the area being converted. Similar variant is currently tested in Germany, Berlin area.
The variant of fastened conversion requires close cooperation between all the interested entities of he television market. However it enables full conversion of the analogue broadcasting to the DVB-T, carried out in the controlled manner and enabling launch of the additional services on the technically harmonized base.