New digital terrestrial: the switch off date has been shifted

Slitta il nuovo digitale terrestre thumbnail

The date of the switch off of digital terrestrial slips.

After it had been talked about for months and after the Minister of Economic Development Giancarlo Giorgetti had signed the implementing decree that kicks off the new Bonus TV, everything needs to be redone. Or rather, we will have to wait a few more months.

The transition to the new MPGE-4 and DVB-T2 standards was expected, in various phases, starting from next September 1st. Instead it will be necessary to wait at least until January 1, 2023.

Let’s find out together the rescheduling of the dates and the reasons that led to this decision. We then recall how to take advantage of the Bonus TV designed precisely for the switch off of digital terrestrial, which until yesterday seemed imminent.

New dates for the switch off of digital terrestrial

The Ministry for Economic Development has therefore decided on a double postponement for the switch off of digital terrestrial.

From 1 September the coding of the channels from Mpeg-2 to Mpeg-4 was expected. For the operation, the 20 Italian regions had been divided into 4 zones. The Mise had foreseen three different moments, and the passage would be concluded by 20 June 2022 with Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise and Marche.

Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti has made it clear that nothing will happen before next October 15th. It will be a smooth transition, which will start with the less important channels. A subsequent provision to be issued by the end of 2021 will define the overall disposal of the MPEG-2 encoding.

The arrival of the second generation digital terrestrial digital TV, the Dvb-T2, originally expected for 30 June 2022 but postponed starting from 1 January 2023, is also postponed.

Why the postponement

The postponement of the switch off of digital terrestrial is probably due to the slower than expected pace with which Italians are changing televisions and decoders to prepare for the new digital. And this despite the new Bonus TV, which we will return to.

The modification of the dates, already established in 2019, was a decision taken by the Minister of Economic Development Giancarlo Giorgetti and the Undersecretary Anna Ascani, in agreement with the associations of the world of TV and retailers.

What will change from October 15th

From 15 October, national broadcasters will switch from the current MPEG-2 standard to MPGE-4, but in a sense on a voluntary basis. That is, each company will choose which of its channels to move.

For example, Rai will immediately broadcast some of its specialist channels in Mpeg-4, such as Rai Storia and Rai Sport, while the main channels (such as Rai 1, Rai 2 and Rai 3) will be broadcast in simulcast, both in Mpeg-2 and in Mpeg-4. Mediaset and La7 have not yet expressed themselves in this regard.

The new calendar

The Ministry of Economic Development has drawn up a document in which the new dates of abandonment of the frequencies in the 700 band appear.

The regions are always divided into four areas but this time the stages will be four and no longer three. Here they are:

  • November 15, 2021 – December 18, 2021: Sardinia
  • 3 January 2022 – 15 March 2022: Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, province of Trento, province of Bolzano, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia
    Romagna
  • 1 March 2022 – 15 May 2022: Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata,
    Abruzzo, Molise, Marche
  • 1 May 2022 – 30 June 2022: Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio,
    Campania

Remodeling and 5G

The new dates of the digital terrestrial switch off will not change the right of telecommunications companies to take possession of the 700 frequency band, especially necessary to convey 5G technology services. The date of July 1, 2022 is confirmed.

However, this creates a vacuum, since the transition to DVB-T2 is scheduled for January 1, 2023. Broadcasters will not be able to immediately rely on the new standard to recover the transmission capacities lost with the sale of 700 frequencies.

The consequence? Either some channels will be temporarily turned off, or the quality of the broadcasts will be reduced.

The new Bonus TV

The postponement of the digital terrestrial switch off gives Italian families more time to take advantage of the new Bonus TV.

It is, let us remember briefly, a scrapping bonus which helps “citizens to buy televisions compatible with the new technological standards for digital terrestrial transmission Dvbt-2 / Hevc Main 10.”

In concrete terms, up to 31 December 2022 all Italian citizens (without income limitations) can return a television set purchased before 22 December 2018 to the retailer. In exchange they have the opportunity to buy a TV compatible with the new broadcasting standards by taking advantage of a maximum bonus of 100 euros. In fact, a 20% discount will be applied on the cost of the device, which can reach a maximum of 100 euros including VAT.