More than 500 people, eventually rising to 1,000 people, will take part in the latest phase of the Department of Communications’ digital terrestrial television (DTT) pilot as Ireland makes preparations to keep pace with the EU’s plans to switch off analogue TV across Europe by 2012.
The objective of the trial is to identify issues associated with a transition from an analogue terrestrial TV platform to a DTT platform.
The trial will involve content from around 20 TV and radio stations, including RTE, Today FM, the BBC, Channel 6 and Sky.
The pilots work in tandem with the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2006 being brought through the Oireachtas, which sets out a framework for the future licensing of DTT in Ireland and the eventual analogue switch-off.
The current phase will see 500 public participants from Dublin and Louth trial the service, rising to 1,000 people over the lifetime of the pilot. Each participant will be given a set-top box with special receiver equipment.
“This latest phase in the DTT pilot will provide a unique insight into the issues involved in the provision and attractiveness of DTT services to Irish viewers,” explained the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey TD.
“Members of the public will have an opportunity to test the first Irish DTT trial service and to provide feedback to the department on their experiences of the services on offer. This will help us to gear up for the 2012 switch-off proposed by the European Commission.”
The pilot will continue until August 2008 during which time broadcasts will be transmitted from the Three Rock site in Dublin and the Clermont Carn site in Louth.
Dempsey said he was committed to ensuring Ireland stays ahead of digital broadcasting developments across Europe.
“A DTT service is capable of providing much more for Irish viewers in the long term in terms of quality, service and additional channels than an analogue service.
“The pilot will play an important part in informing the development of Ireland’s long-term broadcasting strategy. It will also encourage stakeholder and public interest in DTT,” Dempsey said.
One of those stakeholders, the IBEC-based Consumer Electronics Distributors Association (CEDA), welcomed the launch of the second phase of pilot, expressing keen interest in the feedback from the trials.
“The trial is an important step towards giving Irish consumers the level of choice that television viewers elsewhere in Europe enjoy,” explained Kathryn Raleigh of CEDA.
By John Kennedy