European firms make last push for DVB platform
Proponents of the second-generation European Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB2) digital TV platform say government may have been misled into choosing a rival platform made in Japan, which would lead to “disastrous consequences” for Filipino consumers.
Switching to digital TV broadcasting will mean more channels and better signal reception for Filipino viewers. The government’s choice on which platform to roll out in the Philippines will mean big business for companies that build equipment that support the different technologies.
Earlier this month, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said its technical working group (TWG) had recommended that the regulator pick the ISDB standard from Japan.
NTC Deputy Commissioner Carlos Martinez said the regulator’s three-member commission would likely issue an order next month in line with the TWG’s recommendations.
The TWG, made up of industry experts, said the ISDB technology was cheaper, making it easier for consumers to accept. The TWG’s findings were largely in line with the position of industry group Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
“I believe it would be negligent of DVB Project if it did not correct what clearly is wrong information which is being provided by KBP,” said Peter Siebert, executive director of the European standard’s proponent, the DVB Project.
Siebert noted that KBP’s findings recognized the DVB-2 standard, which was an improved version of the original DVB platform used in all of Europe and parts of Asia, as technically superior.
The KBP noted that the DVB-2 standard could transmit more data while using less energy, making it cheaper for networks to run.
However, the industry group, taking its lead from network giant ABS-CBN Corp., said equipment to support Japan’s ISDB standard, particularly set-top boxes that convert digital signals into viewable images, were cheaper since the technology was more mature.
The KBP claimed that there are only a few electronics manufacturers in the world that sell DVB-2 set-top boxes, making them expensive due to the lack of competition.
“This is totally false and indeed there are many manufacturers. Additionally, integrated receivers from such companies as Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, etc., are all available with DVB-T2 decoders,” Siebert said.
Siebert also noted that in Brazil, which uses ISDB technology, shop prices of receivers are significantly higher than those for the DVB-2 standard.
Despite the presence of government subsidies in the Latin American nation, set-top box prices were still sold at $120 each, whereas European set-top boxes cost only $45 each.
The KBP earlier said Japanese companies have committed to sell set-top boxes at around $30 each in the Philippines, but a member of the TWG who requested anonymity said, “Those were just promises but actual prices are much higher.”
“We believe that both on the basis of technical and socioeconomic considerations, DVB-2 is far superior to ISDB and would bring the Philippines innumerable benefits now and in the future,” Siebert said.
Last year, the NTC issued a memorandum circular that said the ISDB technology would be used in the Philippines.
However, this has been put under review following calls by GMA Network Inc., which is not a member of the KBP.
GMA said the DVB-2 standard may be worth a second look due to its operational advantages.