Trai had issued a consultation paper in June last year, seeking feedback from stakeholders on the smoothest possible way to make the transition from analog tv broadcasters to digital terrestrial television (DTT). The result of the consultation paper is the Recommendations for Issues related to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting in India. Luxembourg was the first country to shift from analog TV in 2006. Countries in the Americas and Europe followed suite. China is expected to shift by 2018, and Brazil has plans to shut off analog TV towers by 2023.

There are a number of advantages of digital terrestrial television. The platform is content agnostic and can be adapted to handle new forms of content. Frequency use is much more efficient, allowing for the transmission of 20 to 30 SD channels in the spectrum occupied by a single television channel in an analog signal. DTT offers better quality of images and sound as compared to analog signals. A combination of DTT transmitters at a single location can provide consumers with a range of content options, including radio and video feeds of various qualities.

The DTT transmitters have lower power requirements than traditional analog transmitters. The signals can be received easily by moving vehicles and mobile phones. In countries where content rich DTT services have been introduced, they have been accepted as alternatives to DTH services and cable TV. DTT transmitters can facilitate mobile data offload services, for better use of available resources. Video content is some of the most bandwidth-heavy content on the internet, and most of the data in India is provided through mobile connections. This means that the roll out of DTT has the potential to take some of the load off cellular networks. The mobile phones supporting DTT can have an integrated chip, or the service can be provided through a dongle.

The recommendations by Trai (PDF) includes a plan for a time-bound introduction of DTT in India. TV Channels, Mobile TV and value added services will be provided through DTT. As of now, all the analog TV transmissions are provided only by Doordarshan, but Trai plans to allow private players to keep the market competitive. According to spectrum availability, any given service area can have a maximum of four private players in addition to the public service broadcaster, Doordarshan. The number of DTT transmitters for a service area has a recommended cap of seven.

The migration is planned in a phased manner, with total shutdown of analog tv towers by 2023. There are three planned phases for the migration. Metro cities will first get DTT, a process that is planned to be completed by 2019. Tier II cities with a population of more than 10 lakh residents are currently scheduled to switchover to DTT by 2021. The final phase will see the roll out of DTT to the rest of India. Trai has recommended a minimum overlap of three months, where both DTT and analog TV will run side-by-side before analog is switched off.

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