Digital Dividend


For Ireland, the switch-off of the analogue signal releases valuable spectrum which can be used for wireless broadband and new mobile services. It is estimated that Ireland will benefit to the amount of €500 million over the next decade as a result of this digital dividend.

What is the Digital Dividend?

The Irish Terrestrial Digital Television (i.e. via an aerial), called Saorview launced 20th October 2010. In Spring/Summer 2011 the plan is to add  Saorsat, a fill-in and backup Satellite service (i.e. via a dish). Our existing Analogue TV will be turned of  by (during, starting end of?) 2012.

Why is this happening?

Because world wide TV broadcasters are moving to Digital instead of the Analogue TV we have had. Modern Electronic Analogue TV was first proposed in terms of a complete system in about 1905. Baird’s Mechanical system of the 1930s was a refinement of Nipov’s 1895 system and was a dead end. By 1930s many countries and teams including EMI in UK had working modern Electronic CRT based TV. Some services started to public before WWII and many stopped due to war till 1946 .. 1949. Though Electronic Colour TV was first demonstrated in in 1924, the Analog Color US system wasn’t perfected till 1951. During the 1950s to 1970s PAL and SECAM colour systems joined the US/Japan NTSC color. US Analog TV has been turned off.

Satellite TV gave the impetus to develop Digital TV as it uses much larger channels than Terrestrial TV (25MHz rather than 6MHz or 8MHz) and Satellites are very costly. Digital TV uses special image compression (MPEG2 or MPEG4) to fit up to 20 TV channels into one Satellite channel.
It also allows the broadcaster to use less “space” (lower bitrate) for less important channels, which isn’t possible with Analogue. At best quality you might only have 6 channels instead of 20.  Digital also allows Widescreen more easily, High Definition (up to x4 picture quality for larger TV sets up to 60″ in a normal room) or even Stereoscopic TV (mis-named 3D TV). Mixed text and photos instead of text only teletext and surround sound).

Governments and Broadcasters realised that these advantages could also be applied to TV via an aerial (terrestrial TV) and allow more than four channels (Ch Five in UK was never meant to be on Aerials, but Satellite only. Terrestrial TV to avoid interference doesn’t easily support more than four channels). Governments also realised that up to half the UHF TV band or more could then be reclaimed and auctioned off to other applications (Mobile Phones, Wireless Internet). This is the Digital Dividend. Money for Governments and big Telecom Companies by squeezing the existing analogue TV into a smaller space as Digital and turning off Analogue TV

Netherlands and USA are completely changed to Digital and Analogue TV has been turned off. Most European countries have running Digital TV and are in the process of turning off Analogue TV. The EU decided many years ago (we had lot of warning) that the “Digital Dividend” should be co-ordinated and thus recommended that all EU states should have completed ASO (Analogue Switch Off) by 2012.

See Identifying the Digital Dividend at Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources