Digital TV in Philippines may be fully deployed in 2012

Broadcast giant ABS-CBN and other television networks such as Net 25, Gem TV and state-owned NBN have been preparing to shift to digital television. ABS-CBN held a trial broadcast on digital terrestrial TV (DTT) using Japanese technology ISDB-T in selected areas in Pampanga and Bulacan recently, which received positive feedback.

While many households have expressed willingness to shift to digital TV, having seen the demo and in consideration of the affordability of the ISDB-T set-top box (said to initially cost at a retail price of P2,500), full deployment of digital TV in the Philipppines is still in the brink of uncertainty as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has not come up with a decision yet.

The go signal from Malacanang may not come soon either. President Benigno Aquino III, while in Japan for an official visit, committed to “settle the digital TV issue by early 2012.”

Here's the full press release from Malacanang.
Aquino commits to settle digital TV issue by early 2012

TOKYO, Japan: President Benigno Aquino III made an assurance that the Philippines will soon complete its technical evaluation of its digital television format in the first quarter of 2012.

During a roundtable discussion between President Aquino and Japanese leaders, Marubeni Corp., one of Japan’s major companies raised its concerns over the Digital TV issue in the Philippines, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Sonny Coloma, Jr. said in a media briefing in Tokyo.

Coloma said that the President told Marubeni that the National Telecommunication Commission is still in the process of evaluating the issue given the rapid developments in communications technology.

Coloma said that when the issue was first raised last year, the dominant standard was the European standard. There was a Europe I standard and since then a Europe II standard has also come up and the President pointed out that the Philippines in the past adopted the betamax standard when the rest of the world had the VHS format, he said.

Settling the standard issues is the reason why the President wants a more deliberate technical evaluation process to ensure that there will be no disruption in the social or cultural aspect, Coloma explained.

“The President mentioned that watching television is a major activity among our people, even citing that during the political campaign, the schedule of rallies at night had to be synchronized with the schedule of the popular telenovelas,” Coloma said.

“He said we don’t want any disruption arising from technology mismatch and this is why he said that the process is still ongoing. He mentioned that the decision on the technical evaluation would be completed by the first quarter of 2012,” he added.

Top executives of Marubeni met the President Tuesday committing several big ticket projects in the country in partnership with major Philippine companies like San Miguel Corp. and Aboitiz Group of Companies.
People are excited to have digital TV, but with the latest development, everybody needs to extend their patience and forget about the thirst for this technology (at least for now).