New Zealand switchover to digital television by 2013

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The Government announced today that New Zealand will complete the switch to digital television by 2013.

”Our election promise was to achieve digital switchover (DSO) by 2015 at the latest. With 70 percent of New Zealand households already watching digital television, we are in a good position to set a date for DSO,” says Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman.

”In achieving DSO by the end of 2013, all of New Zealand will receive the benefit of enhanced reception, better picture quality and more channels. There will be a substantial wider economic benefit generated by the use of freed up spectrum for new technology.

”Achieving DSO earlier brings forward the total economic benefits which are estimated to be in the range of $1.1 billion to $2.4 billion over 20 years.

”Countries the world over are going through the same process and by achieving DSO it means New Zealand keeps pace with technological developments.”

Digital switchover will be phased starting with Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast in September 2012. The rest of the country will switch over in three stages with an end date of November 2013.

Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce says digital television technology makes much more efficient use of radio spectrum than analogue technology, freeing up a large amount of spectrum in the 700 MHz band for new uses.

“We expect this spectrum will be ideal for 4G mobile technologies, which will give New Zealanders access to faster mobile broadband services and with improved coverage.”

The 700 MHz band has good coverage qualities which make it more economic for mobile service providers and also more attractive for providing rural wireless broadband.

“With this spectrum being made available for new uses New Zealand remains competitive on the world stage. The implementation of 4G technology will be crucial if New Zealand is to continue to improve its productivity, prosperity and economic growth,” says Mr Joyce.

Households that have Freeview, Sky or TelstraClear, are already set for digital switchover. Other viewers do not need to buy a new television to make the switch, but may need to buy a set-top box and possibly a new aerial or satellite dish depending on what equipment they currently have and where they live.

A campaign will be launched later this year to provide additional information and support.