Analogue television broadcasts will be progressively switched off between September 2012 and November 2013, the Government has announced. From then, consumers will need a Freeview set-top box, a television with Freeview built-in or a subscription to a digital pay-television service such as Sky Television in order to watch television. New Zealand will follow other countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia in turning off its analogue network and switching to digital-only transmission. The move will save broadcasters money and free up radio spectrum, some of which will be auctioned off to support new "fourth-generation" mobile networks that are expected to improve the speed and availability of mobile broadband.
Vodafone was quick off the mark in acknowledging the move, releasing a statement congratulating the Government on the decision.
The statement notes: "This will pave the way for a new era in telecommunications — ultra-fast broadband for all.
"The decision means the spectrum currently allocated to free-to-air TV signals will become available for telcos to deliver the next generation of ultra-fast broadband over mobile, something Vodafone has been championing for many years.
Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners is quoted as saying: “This is absolutely the right decision. The Government is already driving ultra-fast broadband using fibre. This announcement will enable ultra-fast broadband on wireless at the same time,” says Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners.
“Smartphones are predicted to outnumber the total number of PCs, laptops and netbooks globally in the 2012-14 time frame, making it vital that we deliver the wireless networks that can deliver ultra-fast broadband anywhere anytime to complement the fibre service.”
The former TV spectrum will allow far greater speeds than ever before to be delivered over wireless networks, the Vodafone statement says.
Stanners continues: “This technology is capable of delivering speeds of between 100Mbit/s and 200Mbit/s – five to ten times faster than the maximum broadband speeds we see today. The impact these kinds of speeds will have on productivity both in urban and rural New Zealand is profound and will help New Zealand compete on the world stage.
The statement concludes: "Rural New Zealand in particular will benefit from the decision as wireless is the most economical means of rolling out ultra-fast broadband to disperse populations. This has been the strategy in Australia, Germany and Ireland to achieve rural broadband coverage."
- Additional reporting by David Watson