KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia has launched digital terrestrial television, or DTT, moving away from analog and radio wave technology in line with the global digitization trend that began in developed economies.
To start, 4.2 million low-income households or about two-thirds of all families will be given free decoders to receive DTT broadcast named myFreeview. The service is operated by state-appointed company MYTV Broadcasting, which has been tasked to build the infrastructure for the migration from analog to digital under a 30-year concession.
The broadcast currently carries nine free-to-view local TV channels and four radio programs through 24 transmission towers, covering about 87% of the country's population. The coverage will be extended to 98% by the end of the year before terminating analog services by June next year.
"That is the manifestation of the government's efforts to improve the quality of life, on par with other developed countries," Prime Minister Najib Razak said during the launch of the service on Tuesday.
The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations aim to switch off analog broadcasting by 2020, starting with Singapore by the end of the year after successfully rolling out DTT services since December 2013.
Thailand has started digital broadcasting in 2014, while other countries including Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam also began the service in selected cities within their markets.
Digitizing TV transmission frees up broadcasting frequency spectrum that governments could let to other industries, including telecommunications. It could also generate revenue through advertisements and creative content, enhancing business opportunities for the creative industry.
MYTV, which has the capacity to air 30 standard and high-definition channels, said it would introduce online shopping and video-on-demand services in the future, competing against paid-TV operator Astro Malaysia Holdings.
myFreeview broadcast can be received by connecting a decoder to a TV set or through digital TV with a built-in receiver.