• Free TV, wave of the future

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    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    San Diego, USA: The public owns the spectrum or airwaves and we should get benefits from it whether it is decent service by telcos, reliable cable service and stable connectivity. Imagine if the whole country is connected. That would be the revolution we can all welcome because we connect with the last mile. Imagine the islands of the country connected and every Filipino youth is empowered, that’s a tsunami that can wipe out all the controls held tightly by economic and political powers that pin our country down.

    Congress grants franchises but it never seems to understand what oversight powers are in relation to utilities management and the spectrum. The spectrum is owned by every Filipino so they should derive decent and good service from it. It seems Congress, after granting franchise has decided to be a fence sitter. What happens to spectrum lords who just sit on their franchises leveraging for a big take out? How many politicians own franchises? Congress should be able to review these practices so we get a real accounting of the people’s patrimony and use it for future technologies.

    Digital TV broadcasting allows for the transmission of larger amounts of data over airwaves, promising cable TV-quality services for free-to-air TV subscribers. In the U.S. the public will soon get Free TV with no monthly bills. U.S. federal law makes TV broadcasters “transmit their signaler in digital format, which allows everyone to receive these over-the-air digital signals for free with no monthly bills.”

    While regulators and stakeholders were taking a long time debating between Japan or European technologies, BSA3 met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the recent bilateral meeting of the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Summit held in Brunei Darrusalam and announced the country’s shift to the digital terrestrial television of Japan.

    Again, the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC was asked by BSA3 to hold a hearing amongst the stakeholders. Currently, the country is using American NTSC standard for analog television but the NTC officially announced that the country would utilize the Japanese ISDB-T standard, and issued a circular stating that “the country’s broadcasters must discontinue their analog services by the transition deadline of 11:59 p.m. (Philippine Standard Time, UTC+8) on December 31, 2015.” The commission will be “using the ultra-high frequency television channels from 14 to 51 (470-698 MHz) for DTT broadcast service and deliberating channels 14 to 20 (470-512 MHz) which is currently being used for fixed and mobile services.” Then some broadcasters performed trial broadcasts using the European DVB-T standard, hence the delay.

    Preparation for the transition to digital television commenced with an issuance of Executive Order 546 in 1979 and Republic Act 3846 or the Radio Control Law as amended by the local governing body for broadcast services, the NTC adopted the said order to promulgate rules and regulations in order to facilitate the entry of digital broadcast services in the Philippines and implement a specific standard for the delivery of DTT services. Subsequently organizing two technical working groups for the purpose of directing the governing body in the selection of appropriate DTT standard and upon the commendation of investors in the broadcast business, comprising the local broadcasters group, the KBP and the NTC, issued Memorandum Circular 02-06-2010 on June 11, 2010 implementing the standard for digital terrestrial television broadcast service.

    The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) last year endorsed to Malacañang the adoption of the Japanese standard for digital television. So we wait, just like the Asean integration will come to us, prepared or not by 2015, digital TV will also land on our lap by 2015 and no benefits to consumers, such as free TV channels with no cable, satellite or internet connection and monthly bills. Why is it that it’s always Filipino consumers who miss out from free services?

    Interestingly, a company in the U.S. known as CompTek has FreeTV hotlines ringing off the hook in its promotional drive. US residents who called the Toll-Free Hotlines before the 48-hour order deadline to get Clear-Cast can pull in Free TV channels with crystal clear digital picture and no monthly bills. Clear-Cast was invented by a “renowned NASA Space technology hall of fame scientist who currently holds 23 U.S. Government issued patents. Clear-Cast is a sleek micro antenna device engineered to pull in the Free TV signaler through advanced technology with no cable, satellite or internet connection and no monthly bills.”

    And so, it will again come to pass that we seem to be unprepared on these changes coming our way. Changes that affect the well being of our nation. The sooner we deal with PDAF-DAP, Malampaya and other discretionary funds, the better for governance and the welfare of Filipinos. The sooner leadership faces the various situations on the ground, the better for all Filipinos to adjust to the ever growing integration geographically, technologically and substantially in terms of services.

    We have money, we have savings but Filipinos do not feel any change in their standing or any improvement in service delivery by government. Some were asking why not just give each Filipino a fixed amount of monetary benefit than waste the money with elected officials? A fair question indeed especially when we see corruption racking in hard earned pesos of taxpayers.

    On the other hand, a Free TV and a roadblock of an announcement can all the more reach tenuous slope for a leader afraid to rise above the noise of rising expectations they themselves propagated.

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    1 Comment

    1. free digital TV in the Phils might also help to slow the massive population explosion if the units are affordable or might be given away by politicians spending their PDAF.But the reality is the poor has to contend with imported second hand Jap units.In many countries signals were running side by side for a couple of years before the analogue was switched off in which time even digital setup boxes became very affordable.We just hope that the digital age comes to the Phils sooner than later.