Geneva, 16 June 2006 "” A treaty agreement was signed today at the conclusion of ITU's Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-06) in Geneva, heralding the development of "Ëœall-digital' terrestrial broadcast services for sound and television. The digitalization of broadcasting in Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran by 2015 represents a major landmark towards establishing a more equitable, just and people-centred Information Society. The digital switchover will leapfrog existing technologies to connect the unconnected in underserved and remote communities and close the digital divide.
'The most important achievement of the Conference,' remarked Mr Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of ITU, 'is that the new digital Plan provides not only new possibilities for structured development of digital terrestrial broadcasting but also sufficient flexibilities for adaptation to the changing telecommunication environment.'
The agreement reached at RRC-06 paves the way for utilizing the full potential of information and communication technologies to achieve the internationally recognized development goals. The date of transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting in the year 2015 is intended to coincide with the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals.
The regional agreement for digital services has been reached in the frequency bands 174 - 230 MHz and 470 - 862 MHz. It marks the beginning of the end of analogue broadcasting.
The Conference agreed that the transition period from analogue to digital broadcasting, which begins at 0001 UTC 17 June 2006, should end on 17 June 2015, but some countries preferred an additional five-year extension for the VHF band (174-230 MHz).
The Regional Radiocommunication Conference was chaired and brought to a successful conclusion by Mr Kavouss Arasteh of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The digital dividend
The switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting will create new distribution networks and expand the potential for wireless innovation and services. The digital dividend accruing from efficiencies in spectrum usage will allow more channels to be carried across fewer airwaves and lead to greater convergence of services.
The inherent flexibility offered by digital terrestrial broadcasting will support mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data, making applications, services and information accessible and usable anywhere and at any time. It opens the door to new innovations such as Handheld TV Broadcast (DVB-H) along with High-Definition Television (HDTV) while providing greater bandwidth to existing mobile, fixed and radionavigation services. Services ancillary to broadcasting (wireless microphones, talk back links) are also planned on a national basis and need to be extended.
The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07), which will meet in the autumn of 2007, will deal with the regulatory aspects of the usage of the spectrum for these services.
Terrestrial digital broadcasting carries many advantages over the analogue system:
Higher quality video and audio
Greater variety and faster rates of data transmission
Consistency of data flows over long distances
More spectrum efficiency means more channels
This important agreement, which paves the way for a new paradigm of wireless digital communication technologies, is expected to be extrapolated by other regions and countries and influence a global shift away from the analogue system that has been in place for the past 45 years.