Free-to-air TV channels in Singapore will go fully digital by the end of 2013, the authorities here revealed today, as the country moved a step closer to its goal of turning off analogue TV for good by 2020.
Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Yaacob Ibrahim, said the digital broadcasts will be beamed in the DVB-T2 standard, an improved version of the current DVB-T that is used in Singapore and many countries in Europe.
A trial of 500 households last year had found the technology to be suited to the country, he added at the opening of the imbX show here, pointing to the better image and sound quality that digital TV offers over traditional broadcasts.
The move by the authorities will go some way to soothe industry concerns that the country is phasing out over-the-air broadcasts in favour of wired transmissions and to keep the airwaves for mobile networks. Late last year, MediaCorp had turned off its digital radio broadcasts to concentrate on delivering radio programmes over 3G networks instead.
Come 2013, all seven MediaCorp TV channels will go digital. Channels 5, 8, Suria, Vasantham will be available in high definition (HD) by 2013, while the three others – okto, Channel U and Channel NewsAsia – will be in standard definition (SD) before being broadcast in HD in 2016.
Subscribers of StarHub cable TV or SingTel’s mio TV need not do anything to receive the broadcasts, since these will be delivered over their existing set-top boxes.
Other Singapore users may have to buy a separate DVB-T2 receiver and an antenna, which are estimated to cost between S$60 and S$100. TV sets that come with the DVB-T2 tuner built in will ship next year, according to the Media Development Authority (MDA) today.
Singapore homes are already well-connected to a cable TV network that delivers both TV and broadband as well as a new next-gen fibre network that is is set to reach 95 per cent of homes by next month.
But free-to-air broadcasts are still kept as a “parallel” network in many countries, so as to reach out to the masses during emergencies when cables are cut.