Wednesday August 1, 2012
Eight companies will fight for digital terrestrial television contract
By B.K. SIDHU
PETALING JAYA: Only eight out of the 60 companies that collected tender documents for the digital terrestrial television (DTTB) infrastructure build-up submitted their bids at the close of the tender last week, according to sources.
Surprisingly, Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd did not submit bids even though they had collected the documents and the market had speculated that they would be the frontrunners for the DTTB project.
It is not known why TM and YTL Communications were absent but the winner of the DTTB project will have to work with TM since the group controls the most number of transmission towers currently. The other towers in the country are owned by Radio Televisyen Malaysia and Celcom.
The tender bid is for the building of a common integrated infrastructure for all the free-to-air TV stations to migrate to provide digital TV 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 in May the industry regulator, Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC), conducted a briefing on the DTTB, and the closing of the tender was on July 24. The regulator will take more than a month to evaluate the bids before the winner is announced.
Several of the local companies that participated in the tender bid had appointed foreign companies as their technical partners. Celcom is working with Broadcast Australia for its bid, Puncak with New Zealand's Kordia, Sapura with British Arqiva Broadcast and iMedia with a freelance consultant. It is not known who the others partnered.
The whole project is likely to cost over RM1bil, though earlier estimates were that it could cost RM2bil. The company that wins will also have to supply set top boxes which could cost as much as RM300mil. 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.
The whole DTTB or DTB (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 frequency bands allocated for DTTB are from 174 MHZ to 230 MHz and 470 MHz to 742 MHz. 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.