The As early as 2003, the first Technical

The
Philippines is now joining the ranks of the countries in the world for it is
now on its countdown in launching Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasts.
This is after the country’s government endorsed the Japan’s Integrated Services
for Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T) standard to the National Telecommunications
Commission (NTC). The commission have already released its Implementing Rules
and Regulations (IRR) for Integrated Services for Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T)
standard.

With
this new step of the government of using digital television over ISDB-T,
Filipinos thirst for clearer and crisper digital audio, video and a robust
broadcast signal will now be quenched. Since the country always experience
calamities like earthquakes and typhoons, adding the ton of its benefits is the
promise of faster emergency response that will be made possible by the
Emergency Warning Broadcast System or EWBS.

For
seven long years, Engr. James Rodney Santiago the Association of Radio
Industries and Broadcasters (ARIB) Consultant along with his team lead the
proponent pushing of the Integrated Services for Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T)
standard to be the country’s official terrestrial digital standard. Despite of
other representatives sent by different DTT standards companies like the
European’s Digital Video Broadcasting — Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2),
after many reviews and checking NTC came to a decision that it is the most
suited standard for the country.

According
to Engr. Santiago, they release the first memorandum circular for the
digitalization back in 2010. There were many frustrations before the country
adopted ISDB-T standard as the official standard for the country.

In
2006, the process of how ISDB-T came to be the official digital standard
started. Eight years ago, the country is already eyeing on the European’s
Digital Video Broadcasting — Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2) and there
were even people that are studying about it.

As
early as 2003, the first Technical Working Group, or TWG-1 (a small cluster of
broadcasters that studies different digital TV systems) is already looking for
a possible digital system but was then nullified by NTC because they thought
that it is being manipulated by larger broadcasters.

In
2005, ISDB-T was not among the choices for the digitalization it was purely
ATSC AND DVB-T. In the Malaysia’s hosting of ASEAN Digital Broadcast
Conference, Engr. Santiago together with Engr. Antonio Leduna and Engr. Rich
Onipon came across the featuring of ISDB-T. Japan was just trying the to make
promotions for the country.

Two
years after, Engr. Santiago and two others were sent to Japan to be visiting
researchers and tasked to study the Japan’s Integrated Services for Digital
Broadcasting (ISDB-T) standard. They were convinced after three months of
training that it is the most fit standard for the country.

The
three engineers are to get back to the Philippines after their training program
worrying about the study undergoing in the country about DVB-T. In 2008, the
Second Technical Working Group was launched to further study digital TV
standard and was until 2010 when it decided to pick ISDB-T standard technology.
The first days of the study was not in favor of ISDB-T, but Engr. Santiago with
the Japanese technical consultants fight for the standard until 2010 that they
were able to convince NTC. After three more years, NTC released its second
Memorandum Circular confirming Integrated Services for Digital Broadcasting
(ISDB-T) as the official standard for the country.

The
second Technical Working Group chose Japan’s ISDB-T over European’s DVB-T2
because of the suitability of the standard to the Philippine setting that is
being hit by 21-26 typhoons, experiencing landslide and flood every year.

Stakeholders
with Department of Science and Technology, National Economic Development
Authority, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration
are all up for the decision-making. The Second Technical Working Group (TWG-2)
was divided into clusters and studied the specifications of ISDB-T including
its Video and Audio coding and decoding, transmission, frequency planning, and
legal matters concerning the standard.

According
to Engr. Santiago, ATSC is very similar to analog and is single carrier meaning
its contains everything in a single packaging, so if went down every
information will be lost.

DVB-T
on the other hand is multiple carrier. It also has a more robust and stronger
signal compared to ATSC that it can be utilized for mobile transmission. In 1998,
the only advantage of ATSC over others is its full high definition
specifications and DVB-T promotes its multi-channel standard television.

The
essential feature of ISDB-T is its sufficiency in addressing the needs of the
Philippines when it comes to calamity-information dissemination. DVB-T2 on the
other hand is really expensive. And according to Engineer Santiago, the country
does not want to deprive the poor of the technology. Despite that the
Philippines is the only country in South East Asia to use Japan’s Integrated
Services for Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T) standard, the went on careful
process before it was chosen.

The
Digital Broadcast Experts Group (DiBEG) and the Ministry of Information and
Communications (MIC) of Japan are now pushing for the Philippines to have the
most recent and most upgraded standard version of the Integrated Services for
Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T) standard. It will be a combination of Japan’s and
the South America’s Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão Digital (SBTVD) that is
based on ISDB-T.

With
the different local networks entailing and thinking about additional
investments over the planned digitalization, Engr. Santiago says that the
costing will just be the same as what those networks use in their analog
format. There would be some adjustments at first but because of the standard’s
efficiency and large reduction in the transmitter equipment power, it would be
helpful in the long run.

He
added that using this digital standard of Japan, operational expenses can be
reduced by 1/10. So for a network, for example, transmitting 100 kilowatts now,
with a 10 kilowatt digital transmission, that will be able to broadcast the
same, in digital quality.

“To
give you an example, when (PTV) Channel 4 was transmitting 1 kilowatt from Quezon
City, and that one kilowatt was transmitting from Quezon City to Tagaytay, and
that was 62 kilometres away, and for an analog network to have clear picture at
such distance, they would need to have at least 50-60 kilowatts. It’s not even
one –tenth of the transmission of digital” – Engr. Santiago.

The
original Digital shutdown and migration from analog to digital was for December
31 of last year but was later seen not feasible anymore. This is for the reason
that the IRR was just released later than the end of 2014. If it was released
within the final month of 2014 then a possible faster shutdown could have seen.

Digital
Box in the Philippines

According
to Engr. Santiago, the best time for a shutdown would be once there is already
a certain level of deployment of people with digital receivers since by that
moment, majority of the Filipino homes will be ready for shut off.

Digital
receivers will available in various kinds. It will be fixed receivers, mobile
receivers, set-top boxes and ISDB-T-ready television sets. He added that a lot
of companies now are starting to manufacture digital devices, this includes
Sharp Electronics and DX Antenna and country’s television giant- ABS-CBN among
others.

In
2007, ABS-CBN Corporation started applying a license from the National
Telecommunications Commission to operate a digital terrestrial television
service in the Philippines. The network planned to run a multiplex ABS-CBN
networks so they can offer ABS-CBN, Sports+Action (formerly Studio 23), and all
other 5 additional ABS-CBN channels. ABS-CBN expects to spend around 5 billion
pesos for the next 5 years for the digital terrestrial service transition.
ABS-CBN opened two (2) DVB-T test broadcasts; UHF channel 51 Manila (695.143
MHz), and utilized UHF Channel 43 (647.143 MHz) and was expected to start
airing digital by the start of 2009.

In
2010, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) released a circular
saying that it officially chose Japanese standard ISDB-T for digital
broadcasting in the Philippines. It also ordered the whole country-based
networks to switch-off all of their analog signal services on or before the
last minute of 2015 Philippine Standard Time (UTC+8) but was later moved to
2023 due to the delay of releasing the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)
for digital television broadcast.

On
March 22, 2012, the ABS-CBN’s set-top box was primarily endorsed in the
network’s morning show Umagang Kay Gandathen. It is then known as TV+ and even
offered free samples to some of their studio audience. After that, the TV+ was
given a price for a raffle segment Failon Ngayon sa DZMM. From then it was
called “Ang Mahiwagang Blackbox”

It
was only on December 18, 2014 when the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)
released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for digital terrestrial
television broadcast in the Philippines.

The
ABS-CBN TV Plus was officially launched on February 11, 2015 by ABS-CBN Corporation
during an exclusive switch-on of the network. And in July 2015, the
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) tied up through a memorandum
of agreement with ABS-CBN in the inclusion of the Emergency Warning Broadcast
system (EWBS) to the product. The redesigned version of ABS-CBN TV+ was
released with a new processor and support for HDMI and HDTV resolutions. Last
year, ABS-CBN TV Plus was awarded two bronze Stevies for Best in New Product
Innovation and Best in Branded Development in the 2016 Asia Pacific Stevie
Awards.

The
ABS-CBN TVplus is capable of receiving digital broadcast transmission in the
Philippines. Currently this includes ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5, BEAM (Broadcast
Enterprises and Affiliated Media, Inc) and UNTV.

In
Metro Manila, the ABS-CBN TV Plus was able to received:

1.
ABS-CBN

2.
SPORTS+ACTION (premium channel)

3.
CINEMO! (premium channel)

4.
YEY! (premium channel)

5.
Knowledge Channel (premium channel)

6.
DZMM Teleradyo (premium channel)

7.
GMA SD1

8.
GMA News SD

9.
Service HD

10.
BEAM SD 1

11.
BEAM SD 2

12.
BEAM SD 3

13.
UNTV-1

14.
UNTV-2

15.
ADDTV

16.
RADYO5

17.
AKSYON TV

18.
TV5 SD2

19.
TV5 SD

20.
TV5 SD

The
ABS-CBN TVplus is also capable of decoding five additional ABS-CBN channels.
These are exclusive premium channels of ABS-CBN TVplus and cannot be decoded by
other ISDB-T receivers – ABS-CBN Sports+Action, Cinemo, Yey!, Knowledge
Channel, and DZMM Teleradyo.