Tuesday June 5, 2012
60 firms said to have taken documents to bid for digital terrestrial TV
By B.K. SIDHU
PETALING JAYA: About 60 companies are said to have collected documents to bid for the digital terrestrial television (DTT) service that would involve the buildup of a common integrated infrastructure for all the free-to-air TV stations to migrate to provide digital TV nationwide.
Those in the know claim that most of the big boys in the telecoms sector such as Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), Maxis Bhd, Celcom Axiata Bhd, YTL Communications, Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd and several vendors and suppliers had collected the documents in late-April. Most had also attended a briefing last month conducted by the industry regulator, Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
Several local companies have partnered foreign players to tap technical expertise and the bidders have till 12pm on July 24 to make their submissions.
Celcom is working with Broadcast Australia for its bid while Puncak has New Zealand's Kordia as its technical partner.
It is believed that only a third will make their submissions, but there is also talk that some of the players may form a consortium to make a joint bid.
Players like TM, Puncak and Celcom are keen to take on the project, as most of transmission towers are owned by TM, RTM and Celcom.
However, one setback that some players see is the need for them to provide the set top boxes which is a costly affair and had hoped for some subsidy from the Government. With digital TV, users will need a set top box to unscramble the signals for viewing.
However, it is clearly stipulated in the tender documents that the parties will have to fund the entire project and the winner will not be able to charge more for transmission services as the free-to-air players will pay existing rates.
“It is a bit tough for some to make money in the initial years as the upfront cost is high,'' said an industry player.
The whole DTT or DTTB (digital terrestrial TV broadcasting as some countries call it) is for the free-to-air channels to migrate to a digital format to offer digital TV, HD TV and other related TV services including mobile and pay TV.
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.
“For economies of scale in the Malaysian market, it is envisaged that a common integrated infrastructure provider approach will be taken to maximise operational efficiency such as infrastructure sharing, bandwidth sharing and possibly use of common platform for customer management,'' the document said.
The frequency bands allocated for DTT are from 174 MHZ to 230 MHz and 470 MHz to 742 MHz.
Even though the bands have been specified, there is a consideration to re-stack the channels to below 698Mhz, meaning that the 700Mhz band could be free up for mobile service.
Many of the mobile service providers are hoping to land a slice of the controversial 700Mhz spectrum band for their mobility and broadcasting solutions.
The analogue TV switch-off date has been set at the end of 2015 but the entire migration journey will probably be completed by 2020.