Regulators

TRAI issues paper on mobile TV, opening up DTT to pvt players; lists advantages over analog transmission

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NEW DELHI: Digital Terrestrial Transmission (DTT), which has until now remained a monopoly of the public broadcaster Doordarshan, is set for being opened up to private players in an effort to reach the largest audiences in the country.

Similarly, the mobile TV, hanging fire for some years now in an on-off mode with policy-makers and regulators, too could become a reality.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today issued a consultation paper on DTT and mobile TV, asking stakeholders to respond by 22 July, 2016 with counter-comments by 5 August, 2016.

Indiantelevision.com had earlier reported that the government was in the final stages of this exercise. Later, the website had also quoted Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Jawhar Sircar as saying that the pubcaster was not afraid of possible entry of private players.

DD, which presently has exclusive domain over terrestrial broadcasting, is ranked amongst the world’s largest terrestrial television networks. It has a network of 1,412 analog transmitters that provide TV services through two national channels namely, DD National and DD News.

In addition to this, the DD network also broadcast several regional TV channels over the terrestrial network in a time sharing mode to meet the local and regional needs of people in different parts of the country. All TV channels provided by DD are free-to-air.

India’s regulator, in its latest consultation paper, has sought feedback from stakeholders regarding DTT and mobile TV primarily on the following issues:

Q.1 Do you perceive the need for introduction of DTT in presence of multiple broadcasting distribution platforms?

Q.2 If yes, what should be the appropriate strategy for DTT implementation across the country?

Q.3 Should DTT be opened for participation by the private players?

Q.4 What should be the approach for implementing DTT network (MFN/SFN/Hybrid)?

Q.5 What should be the criteria for arriving at optimum size of DTT multiplex at any location?

Q.6 How many digital multiplex per DTT operator should be planned for metro, major cities, urban and rural areas and why?

Q.7 What should be most appropriate frequency band as per National Frequency Allocation Plan 2011 for implementation of Digital 32 terrestrial transmission including mobile TV?

Q.8 Should spectrum be exclusively earmarked for roll out of DTT services? If so, what should be the quantum considering the broadcasting sector requirement in totality?

Q.9 What should be the roadmap for digitization of terrestrial TV network in the country?

Q.10 What should be the analog switch off date(s) for the terrestrial TV channels in context with the suggested roadmap for DTT implementation?

DTT for broadcasting TV programme services was first introduced in the UK in 1998 by deploying the first generation DVB-T standard developed by the European Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) group.

Since then, TRAI says, many new standards have evolved and at this juncture implementation of the second generation standards are underway. The DTT broadcasting spectrum has been harmonized with earlier analog spectrum allocation and therefore DTT makes use of similar analog channel allocations.

Latest DTT technologies provide a number of advantages over analog terrestrial broadcasting technology. The main amongst them are the following:

--- Better quality TV reception

--- Efficient use of frequency (one DTT transmitter can broadcast multiple TV channels)

---Possible frequency reuse

--- TV channels can also be received on mobile phones and handheld devices

--- The 7 or 8 MHz TV frequency band can accommodate 10-12 Standard Definition (SD) TV channels or it can be employed as a data pipe to deliver different type of services including radio services.

--- A DTT platform is flexible and content format agnostic as newer formats of TV channels such as HD TV, 3D TV, UHD TV, data and radio services, etc. can be delivered with reduced transmission power requirements.

---Subsequent digitization also allows for government bodies to reclaim spectrum and repurpose it.

Analog terrestrial broadcasting has several limitations including transmission being susceptible to Radio Frequency (RF) interference resulting in poorer reception quality; spectrally inefficient as more spectrums per TV channel is required and frequency reuse is limited, apart from other drawbacks.

Quoting a recent global research report that studied DTT in 138 countries, including India, TRAI says in its paper the global digital TV penetration at the end of 2015 stands at 74.6 percent with 1170 million digital TV households in the world. There are 261.9 million analog terrestrial TV and 252 million DTT TV households. DTT households comprise 239.4 million FTA DTT and 12.6 million pay DTT households globally. Between 2010 and 2015, about 584 million digital TV homes were added, out of which 156 million came primarily from DTT, TRAI stated quoting the report.

While admitting that many other countries have laid down clear roadmaps to switch-off analog terrestrial TV transmission with a transition to DTT, TRAI points out in India a clear roadmap is unavailable, though work for changeover from analog to digital terrestrial transmission by DD has already commenced.

The full consultation paper of TRAI on this issue could be accessed at http://www.trai.gov.in/WriteReaddata/ConsultationPaper/Document/Consulta....

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