Why do we need Digital Terrestrial Television in Ireland?

So why when satellite TV networks buy broadband companies and when it’s all about two-way communications these days, do we have to have a one-way digital broadcast service being tested and built? There’s been talks about DTT trials in Ireland of late as well as digital radio trials but I would have thought a TV system would make more sense going online instead? Is bandwidth for digital TV still that shite? Would it still be as shite in 10 years? Seems like a costly and wasteful stop-gap measure.

11 Responses to “Why do we need Digital Terrestrial Television in Ireland?”

  1. TJ says:

    One reason is that the government is keen to turn off analogue broadcasts and resell the spectrum for other uses.

  2. Daithí says:

    In the theology of such things, DTT replaces analogue TV as the free-to-air out-to-all service (with the possibility for premium etc over the same system), while things like satellite, net TV etc are optional/market-driven/etc. Philosophically it’s an important point although it tends to get muddled in delivery, or alternatively when politicians come near it. There seems to be an assumption that PSB will only survive on DTT because from the point of view of your granny, it’s close enough to VHF/UHF to be an easy switchover. Not entirely convincing, but well-intentioned.

  3. Matthew says:

    Satellite has the most space for TV channels. But for interactive stuff they still need the modem/internet connection. DTT doesn’t have to be any different. If the will was there, a service could be set up which could use ethernet or modem conenctions to provide enhanced features, EPGs, interactivity etc. I’m thinking of TiVos.

    A TV system online is well and good if there is 4 Mbits dedicated to it for each household, and double that if someone else wants to watch a different channel, or to use a PVR. And HD channels would need mabye 12 mbits for proper use.

    Though a variant of DTT was trialled which allowed for return signals. At the expense of a few TV channels, it could have been done. I’m not sure if it was shortsightedness or a technical reason which has left it out this time.

  4. The big issue is that it will cost a lot to get decent DTT to all of Ireland. As I understand it, the signal just doesn’t travel as far as old-fashioned TV.

    The regulator doesn’t really want to give satellite a free run, although on the face of it, it would appear that that’s what they want to do.

    There is going to be a big problem if regular tv is switched off and DTT isn’t available to almost all of the land-mass. This will result in pretty big infrastructure spending being required. My own view is that this money might be better spent rolling out some sort of broadband solution.

  5. Anonymoose says:

    If we get into a situation where the government forces people to take out a broadband subscription to get tv then I assume the TV license will be a thing of the past.
    If you have someone who doesn’t have a computer and doesn’t want a computer and has to pay €40 a month for a 10 meg broadband connection just so he can get TV I’m sure he’ll be mightily pissed off. It’ll be cheaper to get sky in.

  6. U.S.C.N.I.R. says:

    In my habit of making broad and sweeping statements I predict that IPTV (tv over internet) will never take off.

    First off – given the rapidly reducing cost and the fact that providers are delivering more and more content in HD, most people will have a HDTV in their house in the next decade. Whereas most people don’t mind the loss of quality between a CD and an MP3, if you have a HDTV you won’t want youtube quality 1/4 screen low resolution TV programs.

    Second off some numbers – A vanilla TV DVD quality movie stream will clock in at around 2.5 MBps (20 Mbps). A HDTV quality video stream clocks in at 30 MBps! (240 Mbps) – I don’t see much chance of that kind of infrastructure spend in the near future.

    Finally, the 800-lb gorilla in the corner of the room – scalability. Fine if you want to deliver 1 or 2 channels, but 100’s of channels, on-demand. . . . .

  7. What he said.

    Also, just look next door for what a stunning hit Freeview is. It increased the number of channels from four to twenty-odd for nothing. And it passes the mass-market test: my 70-year-old mother and both her older sisters have a Freeview box — none would *ever* have got cable or Sky because they cost at least three times as much in year one as Freeview does for its one-off box payment.

    [That said, if you really want to make a sackful of cash, make a VCR with 2 DTT tuners in it. Nobody sells them and every Freeview-er in the UK over 45 wants one. Digital “broke” their videos.]

    Statistically speaking (by which I mean when you round it down to the nearest ten thousand people in Ireland),

    * Nobody wants any more interactivity from their TV than they can get from Aertel,

    * A million people will never pay a monthly fee for television

    * Nobody listens to podcasts (yes, I do feel the need to slip that one in despite only being tangentially relevant…)

    That said,

    I do think that DAB is shit and pointless. It’s a crappy model, stacked against the consumer in favour of the existing, elderly, geo-locked model of local radio scarcity. In practice, it provides no improvement in sound quality — and “nobody” (see above) wants more quality than FM anyway. It provides no real additional choice, because frankly all local radio in Ireland is basically identical. And our national bandwidth allocation for DAB can’t carry all the stations we have now, let alone add any more.

    Plus in radio’s case, unlike TV, there actually is a technical solution — the 3G phone networks are all multicast-enabled. Internet radio could, theoretically, sweep all before it. But that’s not going to work either because even if I could persuade Eamon Ryan to do that, the economies of scale for the devices only work if the rest of Europe and/or the US follows suit.

    Still, if anyone out there reads this comment and wants to give me about €2000, I’ll get you a prototype 3g-portable-internet-radio made and we can see if anyone wants to manufacture them.

  8. […] Damien Mulley is wondering about the future of Digital Terrestrial Television (”Freeview” to British readers!) in Ireland.  The comments (other than mine) are a useful peek into the debate, and in particular the question of universal service (both in terms of access to a basic level of media service, as well as the idea of public broadcasting).  […]

  9. snookertony says:

    we’ve had digital tv here for a few years now and, really, it’s just the same old rubbish only much clearer and sharper. Distasnce doesn’t seem to be a problem – all the stations put out both analogue and digital and we only need a set top box to get it. boxes range from Standard Definition from around Aus$40 upward to high Definition with 5:1 Sound etc etc from around Aus$200 and up.
    As for interactivity and multi angles and different camera views all I want is a decent programme to watch occassionaly – I’m not going to be doing the broadcasters jobs also.

  10. Matthew says:

    There is a key issue which no-one has looked into yet. What’s the cost of building a network?? What’s going to be the level of service??

    In the UK they’ve decided to enable every single small relay, even if they were put there to solve problems that digital wouldn’t have. I’m not sure how many relays are needed to give full coverage with DTT.

    And we have no idea on how DTT would be rolled out in the mountainous and remote places of this country. If there was a will, there would be a proper trial to show the best way to cover West Cork for example. But I fear they will just blindly throw money at it, assuming that it will work.

  11. Declan Cullen says:

    My question is, will the proposed roll out of digital terrestrial TV cost the people of Ireland.
    At present we pay a TV licence for our right to view RTE, RTE2 etc, will Eamon Ryan and the Green Party make this another excuse under the veil of environmental purity to extort money out of the population.
    The Carbon Tax is coming which most people see as a tax of the air we breath
    , septic tank licences for private homes are coming and you know what they hold, so you see that what orifice or our body we use to live is going to be taxed, charged or, regulated.
    I want to know who’s benefit is all this regulation is for because if it costs people money, by definition its not for their benefit.