[opendtv] Last night we have transitioned

  • From: Jeroen Stessen <jeroen.stessen@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006 13:11:18 +0100


This morning when I woke up there were no more analog TV signals in 
the air. Our transition to digital TV has happened during the night. 
From now on you must have a DVB-T settop box if you want to receive 
OTA. I'm not even sure that the new signal is already on the air in 
this city, which is ironic if you consider that on 18 March 1948 this 
town hosted the first ever television transmission in the country. 
See: http://www.nrc.nl/W2/Nieuws/1998/03/14/Med/07.html (in Dutch). 
Some regions have already received the DVB-T signal for many months, 
others had to wait until the frequencies became available. (!!) 

The three (!) national public channels plus the regional channels 
(approx. one per province) are free to air. The private channels, 
many more, are only available for a modest subscription fee (I think 
8 Euro per month, it depends on other services that you take). For 
that you need a receiver that holds a decoder and a smart card. 
This is to remove some of the cost of broadcasting from the government 
(i.e. the tax payer) to the end customers who want it. And then there 
are some expensive subscription channels, typically for soccer and 
porn, that would attract only a minority audience. (Really ?  ;-) ) 

This is actually an improvement over yesteryear's situation, where 
the private channels (or "the commercials" as we call them) were only 
available on satellite and cable (and ADSL, perhaps). So for the 
price of a settop box (approx. 85 Euro) you can keep what you had, 
you don't lose anything. Settop boxes with a subscription can be 
cheaper, because they are subsidized by the subscription fee. 
Unfortunately, all the settop boxes are already sold out ! 

Despite some recent information on TV, this probably still comes as 
a surprise to a few customers who depend on OTA. The government has 
actually delayed the transition by a few weeks, and mandated that the 
3 1/2 public channels be made available for free, to ease the pain. 
There are no riots, no protests, nothing. Not surprising, given that 
more than 90% of households are connected to cable TV, for which 
nothing changes. Well... they too are moving some of the channels to 
digital DVB-C, but all favorite channels will of course remain 
available in analog for many more years. I think they charge like 15 
Euro per month for analog-only, and 17 Euro for analog plus basic 
digital. I suppose that in the USA this would be a bargain. 

UPC cable TV are forcing DVB-C down our throats by unsollicited 
delivery of settop boxes (or media box, as they call it). You can try 
the service for half a year, and send back the box if you don't want 
to continue. But if you don't want it, you still have to fill in some 
papers and take the box back to the post office. I don't like this. 

I'm more a fan of satellite DVB-S myself. More choice, better picture, 
and the added cost for a hard disk is not so insane. However, we have 
only ONE free channel on satellite (BVN), for the rest I must pay a 
subscription fee of 40 Euro per year. I will keep my analog cable 
from UPC until I have 3 or 4 settop boxes, 1 or 2 of which will 
probably be for terrestrial digital TV. Otherwise I would have 
nothing (from satellite) during a heavy rainstorm. Can't have that... 

-- Jeroen

| From:     Jeroen H. Stessen   | E-mail:  Jeroen.Stessen@xxxxxxxxxxx |
| Building: SFJ-5.22 Eindhoven  | Deptmt.: Philips Applied Technologies |
| Phone:    ++31.40.2732739     | Visiting & mail address: Glaslaan 2 |
| Mobile:   ++31.6.44680021     | NL 5616 LW Eindhoven, the Netherlands |
| Skype:  callto:jeroen.stessen | Website: http://www.apptech.philips.com/ 

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