Switchover to digital television
Government has announced that the switchover to digital television will be completed by December 2013.
Digital TV offers many benefits, including better picture quality, increased number of channels, an end to ‘ghosting,’ and the potential for new services such as high definition or 3D content.
It also frees up a significant amount of radio spectrum in the 700 MHz band for new uses. A report prepared for MED by Venture Consulting suggests that allocating this spectrum to new mobile services could bring economic benefits in the order of $1.1 billion to $2.4 billion over twenty years.
As at November 2012, 89% of homes had already made the switch to digital TV, in the form of Freeview Satellite, Freeview HD Terrestrial, SKY, or TelstraClear Cable TV. After the switchover in each region, the remaining 11% of homes will also need to receive TV through one of these services.
Depending on the service chosen, those who have not yet made the switch will need a digital set top box / decoder, and possibly a satellite dish. They should not need a new TV.
The digital switch over is a four-step process over five key regions. The dates are:
- Hawkes Bay and the West Coast – 30 September 2012 (Completed)
- Remainder of the South Island – 28 April 2013 (Completed)
- Lower North Island – 29 September 2013 (Completed)
- Upper North Island – 1 December 2013
The exact boundaries of each region will be communicated, as part of an extensive communications campaign in each region.
Restacking of digital TV licences
One of the key benefits of the switchover to digital TV is the realisation of the ‘digital dividend’ – the freeing up of the radio spectrum in the 700 MHz band for new uses. Some digital TV licences were operating in this band. Before this band could be allocated for new uses, the digital TV licences needed to be restacked so that they all sit in the lower part of the UHF TV band (between 502 and 694 MHz). This has now been completed.
For further information see: www.rsm.govt.nz/frequencychanges