Market Insight

Singapore moves closer to analogue switch-off with household incentive scheme

April 18, 2018

David Scott David Scott Associate Director – Research and Analysis, Service Providers & Platforms

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Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has added further incentives to its Digital TV Assistance Scheme (DTVAS) to assist Singapore's 400,000 Housing Development Board (HDB) homes' transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting. IMDA will provide a digital television starter kit to HDB public housing homes which do not subscribe to a pay TV service as part of the expanded scheme. The kit allows eligible homes to either redeem an indoor antenna and digital set-top box for free or receive S$100 ($76) off selected digital television equipment at participating electronics stores. Eligible homes will be notified of the offer via a letter to be sent out between April to June 2018.

Our analysis:

Singapore's analogue TV signals are scheduled to be switched off 31 December 2018, after the cessation of analogue TV broadcasts was shifted from end 2017 to end 2018 to allow more time for households to switch over to digital TV. As at the end of 2017, around 90% of the country's 1.6 million homes had access to digital programming via free-to-air broadcasts or a pay TV subscription. The Digital TV starter kit being issued will encourage the remaining eligible homes to switch, in order to continue receiving free-to-air TV programmes.

IMDA launched its Digital TV Assistance Scheme in 2014 to assist predominantly low-income households' switch to digital TV. Its latest offer expands the scheme in what is likely to be a final effort to transition the remaining homes to digital broadcasting. Digital TV viewers will enjoy a better free-to-air viewing experience with higher definition pictures and sound, alongside interactive features such as multi-language subtitles and electronic programme guides.

For its DTT network, Singapore adopted the European Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2) broadcast standard over the Japanese Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial (ISDB-T), Chinese Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcast (DTMB) and US Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards. Singapore's commercial free-to-air TV broadcaster Mediacorp began broadcasting all seven of its free-to-air channels in digital on 16 December 2013 using DVB-T2. 

Once completed, Singapore’s switchover to digital terrestrial television (DTT) will free up signals in the very high frequencies (VHF) band, meaning frequencies previously used for analogue terrestrial broadcasting can be used for mobile broadband services. This provides users with improved quality and higher mobile broadband speeds, and ultimately a better end-user experience. 

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