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Digital TV for Hong Kong - Providing planning expertise to shape future digital television policy and facilitate coordination with Mainland China

"We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation of the professionalism and high dedication of the members of the PA project team.”

T Y Chan, Head, Advisory and Planning Division


DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) is an emerging technology that will eventually replace current analogue television broadcast transmission. Already introduced in several countries, including the UK, DTT is being planned for roll-out around the world.

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) is a department responsible for regulating the telecommunications sector in Hong Kong. OFTA needed to understand the options for introducing DTT in order to shape Government policy and to support co-ordination with neighbouring territories. PA had already conducted a project for OFTA outlining the options for the introduction of DTT to Hong Kong, including frequency planning – the process by which frequencies are allocated to support different TV channels (both digital and analogue). Subsequently a further need was identified to develop revised frequency plans for introducing DTT into Hong Kong and the surrounding regions including Mainland China, and OFTA again selected PA to perform the planning.

Delivering new services into an already crowded spectrum

One of the advantages of DTT is the ability to offer viewers digital services through existing aerials. However, fitting digital channels into the already crowded spectrum – the frequencies available for different channels in Hong Kong – posed a challenge. Potential solutions had to cope with potential TV signal interference to and from stations in Mainland China; as well as the hilly terrain and multi-tenant buildings in Hong Kong.

Managing the allocation of frequencies is a complex process which must be well planned to ensure minimum disruption of service to and from existing analogue stations. An additional challenge was the objective of ensuring the same number of digital channels would be available in both Hong Kong and on the Mainland China at all stages through the transition phase.

Considering the needs and objectives of many stakeholders involved

A key aspect of the project was the validation of the coverage and interference prediction models to ensure these were accepted by all parties: these included OFTA, the regulatory authorities in Mainland China (at both regional and national level) and the broadcasters, with emphasis on high levels of protection for the existing analogue service. PA analysed the results of the field tests made by the different organizations involved and was then able to select the most appropriate coverage and interference prediction model.

Delivering practical solutions to enable DTT implementation

PA provided independent technical advice to OFTA to support its coordination discussions with the Mainland China regulatory authorities, answering challenging questions on the methods to be used for planning.PA followed this up with active technical and policy support during the project co-ordination meetings.
Following agreement between the parties on the planning principles to be applied, PA recommended frequency plans for the short and longer term transition from analogue to digital broadcast. PA’s role involved both ensuring that the requirements of the many stakeholders were met as well as solving the significant technical challenges involved.

PA also delivered to OFTA a comprehensive frequency planning software tool for application in future planning and coordination work. In addition, PA managed the training of OFTA staff in the planning process.

Achieving stakeholder agreement and delivering key planning tools

PA was able to support this assignment with an international multi-skilled team, local market knowledge, and radio planning expertise from its UK Technology Centre, as well as its wide experience in the broadcast industry.

OFTA were able to deal with a complex frequency coordination process – involving demanding stakeholders including Mainland China authorities – confident in the knowledge that it was being supported by a team of PA experts.

As a result of the study carried out by PA, OFTA have been able to obtain preliminary agreement with the different stakeholders involved on the major
issue of channel allocations.

OFTA are now using the PA Frequency Planner tool to perform more detailed preparation for the licensing and implementation of DTT in Hong Kong.

"We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation of the professionalism and high dedication of the members of the PA project team.”


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