The Philippines finally decided to adopt Japan’s digital television standard, a Malacanang official announced on Tuesday.
In a press conference, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the Philippines is joining other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in switching over from analog to digital broadcasting.
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.
“This is one of the significant aspects of connectivity for regional integration that is envisioned to be fully attained by 2015 with the full fruition of the Asean economic community (AEC) integration,” Coloma said, referring to the planned economic integration of Asean member countries by 2015.
The AEC aims to create a single market and production base with free movement of goods, services, investment, labor and capital among the 10 member nations, namely, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Brunei.
“The Philippines like 15 other countries has chosen to adopt the integrated services digital broadcasting terrestrial (ISDB-T) system developed by Japan. This will pave the way for digital broadcast in the entire country,” he added.
According to Coloma, the choice of the system was announced by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to the Philippine media delegation at the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Summit.
Mr. Aquino earlier met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a bilateral meeting at the recent summit where both leaders discussed the country’s shift to the digital terrestrial television of Japan.
Coloma said that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) already prepared a draft memorandum circular that was discussed in a public hearing last October 29, 2013.
After the publication in a newspaper of general circulation, following which the NTC may proceed to prepare the implementing rules and regulations, he said.
“All major stakeholder groups signified their agreement to the adoption of the ISDB-T system,” he added.
Citing its ability for an emergency broadcast during emergencies, Coloma said that “the Philippines’ choice for the ISDB-T system is anchored upon the built-in emergency alert system for mobile phones and television.”
“Adoption of this system is aligned with the government’s objective of zero casualties in times of calamities. More than 20 typhoons strike the Philippines every year. With six active faults, the country is situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire, thereby exposing the Filipino people to constant danger and adversity,” he noted
To address this challenge,the Palace official said that the NTC ascertained the compatibility of the ISDB-T system with mobile devices.
“There are approximately 95 million mobile phone subscribers in the country today. Any mobile device such as smartphones, tablets, and the like with an ISDB-T chip can receive mobile transmission and early warning. If the mobile device has no ISDB-T chip, a dongle can be attached,” Coloma added.
A few months ago, the NTC endorsed to the Department of Science and Technology the adoption of the Japanese standard instead of Europe’s Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial 2 or DVB-T2 for the Philippines’ migration to digital terrestrial TV by 2015.
The NTC was supposed to issue the implementing rules and regulations for digital TV in July 2010 but was delayed following an order from the President for a review.
As early as 2010, the agency issued an order adopting ISDB-T as the standard.
President Aquino earlier mentioned that while proponents of the European TV platform said they could also come up with similar capability, the ISDB-T has already a leg up since Japan is frequently visited by disasters like the Philippines.
“The European continent is not visited by disasters that Japan and us have. So they might be able to meet that need, whereas Japan has demonstrated capability already,” the President noted. CATHERINE S. VALENTE