Thursday October 25, 2012
4 telcos shortlisted for digital terrestrial television broadcasting
By B.K. SIDHU
PETALING JAYA: It is believed that four companies out of the eight which submitted their bids for the digital terrestrial television broadcasting (DTTB) infrastructure build-up have been shortlisted.
They will now enter the second stage of bidding where they will be required to submit a detailed spectrum study and frequency plan.
The regulator is expected to inform the shortlisted parties soon and they will be given ample time, some say about six months, to do frequency checking and surveys across the nation.
Based on the tender documents, the four will have to invest a considerable amount of money to undertake the study and testing. Because of the hurdle, only a few companies are shortlisted for the second stage, sources said.
Eventually there would be one winner and that decision would only be made after the second-stage evaluation was done, they said.
Basically, DTTB is for the free-to-air channels to migrate from an analogue to digital format to offer digital TV, high dimension TV and other related TV services including mobile and pay TV.
Initially 60 companies had collected documents to bid for the DTTB, but only eight companies submitted their bids and apart from the four, the others include Astro Productions, iMedia, and Packet One Networks.
Telekom Malaysia Bhd which controls the most number of transmission towers for the existing analogue systems did not submit a bid; nor did YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, although it was said to be keen on the DTTB job.
Celcom submitted its bid with a German technical partner instead of Broadcast Australia, sources said. Puncak's technical partner is New Zealand's Kordia while Sapura is with Arqiva Broadcast British, but it is not known who REDtone's technical partner is.
The other issue that some experts have raised is the spectrum usage for the migration to digital format. Though the frequency bands allocated for DTTB are from 174 MHz to 230 MHz and 470 MHz to 742 MHz, they are wondering why the 700Mhz is still allocated for broadcasting when many nations have designated that for the telecoms sector for LTE (long term evolution or 4G) usage.
Malaysia is the only country that is not a signatory to the APT 700 telecoms body. APT defines 700Mhz for LTE usage.
If 700Mhz were to be used for broadcasting after the migration, the fear is that it could potentially cause signal interferences for neighbouring countries as they are using 700Mhz for the telecoms sector.
Currently, broadcasters are still using the 700Mhz frequency band and though there are plans for spectrum re-farming, the ultimate decision on what 700Mhz will be used for has yet to be decided.
For the DTTB, two bands had been allocated, 470-742Mhz and 470-694Mhz, and players submitted two variations since the final decision on which band has not been decided.
A source said that “at some point, Malaysia would have to consider the 700Mhz for LTE to be in sync with what other countries are doing.''
The tender bid is for the building of a common integrated infrastructure for all free-to-air TV stations to migrate to and to provide digital TV coverage nationwide. The winner will have to design, build, own and operate the infrastructure for DTT-fixed TV reception services, comprising the transmission, network facilities and the Digital Multimedia Broadcasting Hub.
The tender opened in late April and closed on July 24.
The whole project will be privately funded and is likely to cost over RM1bil. The company that wins will have to supply set top boxes which could cost as much as RM300mil as digital TV users will need a set top box to unscramble the signals for viewing.