A new digital terrestrial is coming: what will change from 2020

From 2020 the frequencies that host digital terrestrial transmissions will be freed to make way for 5G: here's what will change for users

A little less than 10 years after the transition from analog to digital terrestrial, Italian televisions will be called to a new revolution. As a matter of fact, starting from 2020, the new decoder will be diffused, which foresees the use of MPEG4 (defined in technical jargon as DVB-T2). Therefore, those who are going to buy a new TV set, must have a clear understanding of the regulations that are about to change the landscape of television networks once and for all.

The risk, in fact, is to find themselves with a purchase that is not very functional. Particular attention must be paid in case of too advantageous discounts or online sales, in order not to end up, without wanting it, with a TV with DVB-T. However, it is good to specify that, in case you have an unsuitable TV set, it will be possible to equip it with an appropriate decoder.

In fact, an important date to keep in mind is July 1st 2016, since, from that day, manufacturers, by Law, have been required to sell to distribution stores, TV sets equipped with a tuner able to receive frequencies in DVB-T2 technology, with the appropriate encodings approved by the International Telecommunication Union.
But when will DVB-T2 arrive in Italy? It will be necessary to buy a new Smart Tv or the appropriate decoder within June 30th 2020. After that date those who will not be equipped will not be able to watch any channel.

New decoder 2020: what will change concretely?

In concrete terms, Italy, as other European countries have already done, is called to remove some frequencies (at 700 MHz) from TV sets, in order to allow the debut of 5G mobile broadband networks. In fact, the new required DVB-T2 standard serves precisely to allow broadcasters to transmit the same channels on a smaller amount of frequencies.

This will bring a number of important benefits, among which it is worth mentioning the increase in visual and sound quality and very high definition. What's more, from 2020 the adoption of the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) codec will also be introduced, which is capable of supporting ultra high definition images up to 8192 x 4320 pixels. However, it is important to underline that this important change will inevitably lead to a series of disadvantages.

In fact, even if the incentives provided by the Government should cover the purchase of the new decoder, it will be necessary to provide for its installation, which could create many problems, especially for the elderly, and the use of two remote controls. In addition, it will be essential to retune the various channels and, in some cases, even require the intervention of a specialized technician, so as to put hands on the condominium antenna.

How long will the transition from the "old" decoder to the new digital terrestrial last?

The transition should last about 2 years and be completed by June 30, 2022. Probably the first broadcasters to migrate will be the local ones, followed closely by RAI and other national channels. The Government has made it known that there are 100 million incentives, designed to cover all or part of the cost of the decoder. However, in some cases, it may also be necessary to intervene on the condominium antenna, in order to ensure proper tuning of channels.

In fact, the revolution of 2020 could revitalize the market for television sets, which has been in crisis for some years now, not only in Italy, but also in other EU countries. What is certain, is that it will be necessary to carefully study the technical characteristics of one's own TV sets, in order to adapt, if necessary, to what is foreseen by the new regulations, so as not to risk finding oneself in front of a completely black screen.

What will happen in the next few years with digital terrestrial

The frequencies occupied by digital terrestrial will have to be freed up by 2020, the year in which the introduction of the 5G network at European level is expected. The TV channels that currently occupy these frequencies will be moved and will broadcast using the new MPEG4 standard. The first broadcasters to migrate will be the local ones, followed by RAI and other national channels. The transition should take about two years and be completed by June 30, 2022.

Will you need to buy a new decoder or television set to watch television?

About 60% of the televisions in Italian homes already support the new MPEG4 standard (which in technical jargon is called Dvb-T2), while all the others need a new decoder that will allow them to receive television broadcasts. All televisions that will be produced in the next few years will support the MPEG4 standard and it will not be necessary to buy a decoder. For all those, however, who do not want to buy a new TV, the state should make available incentives to buy the decoder.