Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd, the company awarded the concession to develop the Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT), hopes to achieve 85% coverage by population when the DTT service rolls out on April 16, 2015.
At a press conference recently, Mohamed Redzwan Yahya, Puncak Semangat’s DTT deputy project director outlined the plans the company has to make the move from the current analogue broadcast system for Malaysia’s free-to-air television to the new digital broadcast system.
“We have an outside-in rollout strategy, that means we go to the rural areas for analogue switch-off, then to the sub-urban and then finally to the urban areas in stages,” said Mohamed Redzwan.
The idea is that free-to-air television will benefit those in the rural areas the most, while urban and sub-urban areas already have paid satellite television services.
Five services will eventually be offered, namely TV services, radio services, connected services (which includes catch-up TV, online games and video on-demand, amongst others), t-commerce (television commerce) and soft services (e-learning applications, SMS voting, etc).
However, when the DTT service is initially offered, only TV services and radio services will be available, with the other three services to be eventually offered via home broadband networks.
Eventually, the DTT service cover some 98% of the population and will have the capacity to offer up to 80 television channels and between 30 to 40 radio stations.
To encourage adoption, Puncak Semangat is also subsidising and deploying some two million set top boxes with portable indoor antennas to eligible consumers.
According to Mohamed Redzwan, the company is still looking into how to select eligible recipients that will receive the set top boxes but said that the company will probably be drawing from the eKasih database.
Other consumers who are not eligible to receive the subsidised set top boxes will have to purchase it, although Puncak Niaga is still in discussions with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on the final pricing for the set top boxes.
However, the decision to purchase set top boxes may eventually be moot, as the DTT service conforms to European Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) standards, which means that many consumer electronics manufacturers already produce HDTVs with the digital tuner required to decode the DTT service already built-in.
Nik Abdul Aziz bin Nik Yaacob, project director for Puncak Semangat, said that while HDTVs with such digital tuners are not common in this country right now, television manufacturers will most likely start selling sets that will be able to decode the DTT signal when the service gets more widespread here.