The digital television transition, also called the digital switchover or analogue switch-off, is the process in which analog television broadcasting is converted to and replaced by digital television. This primarily involves the conversion of analogue terrestrial television to digital terrestrial. However, it also involves analogue cable conversion to digital cable, as well as analogue to digital satellite.

In many countries, a simulcast service is operated where a broadcast is made available to viewers in both analog and digital at the same time. As digital becomes more popular, it is likely that the existing analogue services will be removed. In some cases this has already happened, where a broadcaster has offered incentives to viewers to encourage them to switch to digital. In other cases government policies have been introduced to encourage or force the switchover process, especially with regard to terrestrial broadcasts. Government intervention usually involves providing some funding for broadcasters and, in some cases monetary relief to viewers, to enable a switchover to happen by a given deadline.

The switchover for individual countries varies; in some countries it is being implemented in stages as in India and the United Kingdom, where each region has a separate date to switch off. In others, the whole country switches on one date, such as the Netherlands, which switched off all analog services on 11 December 2006. Some countries have different switch off dates for each channel, such as China where CCTV channels 1-5 will be switched off first.

Purpose of the transition

Almost all analogue formats in current use were standardised between the 1940s and the 1950s[citation needed] and have had to be adapted to the technological innovations since then. Initially offering only black and white images with monophonic sound, the formats have had to be modified to broadcast in colour and with stereo sound, second audio program (SAP), captioning, and other information all while being backwards compatible with televisions unable to use the features. Additionally, engineers have had to implement these protocols within the limits of a set bandwidth and the tolerances of an inefficient analogue format.

However, during this time, the application and distribution of digital communications evolved. Digital television transmission more efficiently uses the available bandwidth and can easily integrate other digital services. While analog video and audio broadcasts can not efficiently include other digital services, they have the advantage of greater area coverage because a degraded signal can still be usable to a fringe user while a digital one will just drop off.

Timeline for the digital switchover

[citation needed]

Other information

The Geneva 2006 Agreement sets 17 June 2015 as the date after which countries may use those frequencies currently assigned for analogue television transmission for digital services, without being required to protect the analogue services of neighbouring countries against interference. This date is generally viewed as an internationally mandated analogue switch-off date, at least along national borders.[1] The European Commission has recommended that digital switchover should be completed by 1 January 2012 - Commission Recommendation 2009/848/EC, of 28.10.2009.[2]

Digital switchover at a glance

See also: Analogue to digital transition by country

World map of digital television transition progress. Legend:
  Transition completed, all analog signals terminated
  Transition completed for full power stations, not yet completed for low power stations
  Transition in progress, broadcasting both analog and digital signals
  Transition not yet started, broadcasting analog signals only
  Does not intend to transition, broadcasting analog signals only
  No information available
Country DTT transmission
commenced
Switch-over
commenced
Switch-over
completed
Andorra Andorra 25 September 2007
Australia Australia[3] 1 January 2001 30 June 2010 10 December 2013
Belgium Belgium 3 November 2008 1 March 2010
Brazil Brazil[4] 2 December 2007 29 November 2015[5] 25 November 2018
Bulgaria Bulgaria 1 January 2009 1 March 2013 30 September 2013
Canada Canada 1 March 2003 31 August 2011
Croatia Croatia[6] 13 June 2002 26 January 2010 5 October 2010
Czech Republic Czech Republic[7] October 2005 September 2007 12 February 2012
Denmark Denmark 1 March 2003 1 November 2009
El Salvador El Salvador 22 April 2009 1 March 2018 1 January 2019
Estonia Estonia 1 July 2010
Finland Finland 21 August 2001 1 September 2007
France France[8] 31 March 2005 2 February 2010 29 November 2011
Germany Germany 1 November 2002 25 November 2008
Greece Greece 20 March 2006 24 September 2009 19 December 2014
Guernsey Guernsey 17 November 2010
Hungary Hungary[9][10] October 2001 31 July 2013 31 October 2013
India India[11][12] 26 January 2003 31 October 2012 31 March 2015
Republic of Ireland Ireland[13] 29 October 2010 24 October 2012
Isle of Man Isle of Man 24 July 2009
Italy Italy 2003 15 October 2008 4 July 2012
Japan Japan[14] 1 December 2003 24 July 2011 31 March 2012
Jersey Jersey 17 November 2010
Latvia Latvia 1 June 2010
Lithuania Lithuania March 2001 29 October 2012
North Macedonia Macedonia 4 May 2004 1 January 2010 1 June 2013
Mexico Mexico[15] July 2, 2004 18 July 2013 31 December 2015
Netherlands Netherlands 11 December 2006
New Zealand New Zealand[16] 2 May 2007 30 September 2012 1 December 2013
Norway Norway 1 September 2007 1 March 2008 1 December 2009
Peru Peru 30 March 2010 28 July 2020 3 January 2023
Poland Poland 30 September 2010 7 November 2012 23 July 2013
Portugal Portugal 29 April 2009 12 January 2012 26 April 2012
Philippines Philippines October 2008 31 May 2015 31 December 2015
 Qatar 1 January 2002 13 February 2012
 Saudi Arabia 1 January 2003 13 February 2012
Slovakia Slovakia[17][18][19] 22 December 2009 28 October 2010 31 December 2012
Slovenia Slovenia 30 June 2011
South Korea South Korea 26 October 2001 1 September 2010 31 December 2012
Spain Spain[20][21] 15 November 1999 5 April 2008 3 April 2010
Sweden Sweden 1999 19 September 2005 29 October 2007
Switzerland Switzerland 1 June 2006 1 January 2008
Thailand Thailand 1 April 2014 2015 2020
Taiwan Taiwan 1 January 2004 7 May 2012 30 June 2012
 Tunisia[22] 2012 6 March 2015 3 April 2015
United Kingdom United Kingdom[23] 1998 17 October 2007 24 October 2012
United States United States[24] 1998 2007 12 June 2009 (Full power stations)
1 September 2015 (Low power stations)

Transitions around the world

Transitions completed

Europe

Analogue closedown warning broadcast in Finland.
Analogue closedown warning broadcast in Spain.

Further information: Digital terrestrial television in Bulgaria

America

Africa

Asia

Example of analog broadcast termination notice screen in Japan.

Oceania

Transitions in progress

Europe

Americas

Asia

Africa

Transitions not yet started

Americas

Africa

The rest of Africa will switch off all analogue signals on 3 April 2015.

Digital-to-analog converters

Main article: Digital television adapter

After the switch from analog to digital broadcasts is complete, analog TVs will be incapable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts without the addition of a set-top converter box. Consequently, a digital converter box – an electronic device that connects to an analog television – must be used in order to allow the television to receive digital broadcasts.[84] In the United States, the government subsidized the purchase of such boxes for consumers via their coupon-eligible converter box program in 2009, funded by a small part of the billions of dollars brought in by a spectrum auction. The program was managed by the Department of Commerce through its National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

See also

References

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Further reading