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Dutch next to upgrade digital terrestrial TV

The operator of the Dutch digital terrestrial TV network has set out its migration plan to an all HD environment.

KPN is to switch the entire terrestrial TV platform in The Netherlands to the DVB-T2 standard, using the latest HEVC technology, starting in the North East of the country on 1st October 2018, completing all areas by the end of April 2019.

The national and regional public service broadcasters in the country will remain free-to-air, while the remaining channels will continue to be available via the Digitenne service. Around 30 channels are available on Dutch DTT.

To prepare for the change, KPN is contacting Digitenne subscribers and providing them with a new compact receiver, ready to work with the new service when the switch is made in each area. The new receivers use a cardless encryption, such as that used in other European countries for terrestrial TV. Controversially, it won't be possible to access the full set of terrestrial channels without a separate receiver - no CI modules for TVs are being made available.

TV reception in most parts of The Netherlands is possible on indoor aerials, however cable and IPTV dominate in a country with advanced fibre broadband roll-out. KPN is enticing Digitenne users to its IPTV service, which provides a greater range of channels as well as on-demand and catch-up TV, plus an option to still have free access to Digitenne on secondary TVs.

As with all other European countries, digital terrestrial TV is secured until 2030, but is required to make the switch to the newer DVB-T2 standard as part of a plan to clear frequencies for future 5G services.

Recently, French broadcasters and authorities agreed a road map to DVB-T2/HEVC on digital terrestrial TV. Germany and Austria are already using the latest technology. Meanwhile, in Belgium, the Flemish public broadcaster is planning to leave digital terrestrial TV altogether, leaving just a commercial operator using the airwaves with its DVB-T2 service.

Meanwhile, many broadcasters in the UK continues to persevere with first generation DVB-T and standard definition television, while the BBC is already planning the demise of traditional TV in favour of an all IP future, leaving viewers with a complex mix of different picture resolutions and varying availablity of services depending on the type of receiver being used and local internet connectivity.