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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

World’s First Analogue Switchoff Rather an Anti-climax
Smooth transition to digital TV in the Netherlands with KPN receiving spectrum for HDTV and extra channels

[This item is reprinted with permission from PolicyTracker, a London-based publication that covers the European spectrum scene very well. Hence, the strange spelling.]

Surprisingly, there was almost no reaction when the Netherlands became the first country to switch over to digital television, completely closing down analog transmissions. The country is 98 per cent-wired for cable, and only a few border hamlets don't have it. Analogue TV households numbered only 74,000 out of a nation of 18 million. Those who do not have cable have already been able to access almost the same offer via digital terrestrial television for the past two years. So it is not surprising that the Dutch Ministry for Telecommunications received almost no complaints when the shift took place on the night of 10 December.

The public television networks had advertised the changeover for months in advance, as had KPN, the telecommunications incumbent which handled the switchover. In return for managing the process KPN will be able to use the liberated bandwidth for more digital channels and for HDTV. Regulators regard digital terrestrial as a way of making a cable-saturated market more competitive. Cable costs about €30 a month, while a basic digital terrestrial service is free, additional channels cost around €7 a month.

The cable HDTV offer has suffered from a lack of sufficient decoder boxes to satisfy demand. This caused an outcry during the last World Cup competition in Germany--fortunately for the regulators, the rather poor Dutch squad was quickly knocked out.

Although the Dutch were the first in the world to make the changeover Finland is due to follow later this year and Sweden in 2008. But, perhaps because of the Dutch experience, there is little expectation of difficulty in Finland either. This is in sharp contrast to the UK, where there is continuing concern about the expense of ensuring that technophobes and the elderly make a smooth transition to digital.

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