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  November - December 2009


Tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand,
the world’s longest reigning monarch. Blessed are all Thais to have a King of sincerity, compassion and plain common sense. For all those who respect His Majesty for his integrity, it was an immense relief and joy to learn that the great monarch is convalescing from his recent illness. In this humble tribute, commemorating His Majesty’s 82nd Birthday, AseanAffairs presents a snapshot of His Majesty’s life and works.

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Ralf Hundertmark
From Analog to Digital
The future of TV in the Age of Broadband Internet

Today, in Asean we mostly see terrestrial transmission of TV signals via antennas, who broadcast the TV signals freely and people can select from a limited number of programmes, which are offered by the TV stations. This service is often called “free-to-air”.

In most countries there are also alternative Pay-TV providers, which offer a broader selection of programs via either satellite transmission or cable, to some extend are already digital.

Digital TV has a number of advantages over analog TV and requires as a first step just some upgrading of antenna equipment and a digital TV tuner.  More modern TV set’s are already configured for digital TV and do not require any external tuner boxes.  

The most compelling advantage to national regulators is that digital TV requires less bandwidth than analog TV does and thus more programmes can be distributed over the same spectrum and with that some frequencies can be freed for other services, such as the police or the military. For the consumers digital TV usually means better quality of pictures and sound, more programs and new data services.

Some countries are now only broadcasting digital TV, among them are The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany Switzerland and since recently, the United States. In our part of the world Japan and China have set fixed dates for the conversion, Indonesia currently undertakes trials in Jakarta and Malaysia has called for tenders in Q3 of this year. Besides that, most Asean countries are discussing and already advertising the introduction of digital TV one way or the other.

In relation to the transition to digital TV, some Asean countries have defined a broadband strategy or initiative to deliver high speed internet access to
the households.
The two topics of digital TV and broadband internet access are somewhat related, as the digital TV can utilise some of the massive infrastructure and current and new cables can be used to deliver broadband internet access to the households.

Once this has been done, we will see a whole wealth of new services emerging; one of them, most likely will be a new paradigm of how we watch television.

Whilst digital TV is nice and offers better quality of pictures and sound, the now emerging IPTV and internet TV approaches are really carrying my hope. 
Both Internet TV and IPTV are basically distributing video content using Internet Protocol, or in short, IP.

Technically the use of the IP protocol frees up bandwidth again, as you only receive those channels you have choose to watch, whereas in digital cable
TV, all programs are distributed to all receivers and the selection of what program you want to watch is only done at your home.

Also important to mention is that IP based systems, generically offer a feedback channel, which means you can interact with the system on the “other side” through your TV set or set-top box. Only this enables fully fledged interactive TV.

This interactive option comes with a multitude of new services and thus offers a completely new experience to the viewers.

It will be possible to offer interactive TV guides, which you can search for genres, actors or titles. Also “zapping” from channel to channel in a small preview window will be possible, without stopping the program you are watching. Pausing a program will certainly also be possible and you will be able transfer a program from one TV set to another or even to a mobile device at a fingertip.

To be fair, some features mentioned above are more or less available in some digital TV environments, but those mostly depend on the features of your set-top box or digital TV set.
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