The Netherlands is expected to become the first European country to turn off its analogue television transmissions following the announcement that it is to make use of digital technology provided by broadcast leader Nozema Services.

At the beginning of 2006 a report by business intelligence provider Screen Digest forecast that the Netherlands could undertake its switchover from analogue to digital television as early as this year—though 2008-2009 was suggested as a more likely date—and it was also predicted that the country would have 384,000 homes with digital terrestrial TV by 2009.

In an effort to achieve these targets, Nozema, the country's largest nationwide terrestrial broadcaster, will deploy a high-performance digital TV solution encompassing Harmonic's DiviCom multi-service encoding platform and DiviTrack multiplexing system, for its Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial (DVB-T) service upgrade that is scheduled to go live later this year.

Viewers will have access to Nozema's digital pay-TV services, while the business's parent company, KPN Royal Dutch Telecom, will offer competitive 'triple play' bundles.

Because migration to all-digital TV typically results in broadcasters receiving a reduced segment of the radio frequency spectrum, Nozema will be forced to improve bandwidth efficiency in order to deliver its entire channel line-up of 23 television and 18 radio channels, as well as further services, within the available bandwidth.

Nozema MD Rob Timmermans said: "As we contemplated the upgrade of our transmission infrastructure, the ability to deliver a superior experience today, and at the same time position ourselves to better enable the digital television services of tomorrow, was critical.

He continued: "Harmonic's efficient DiviCom encoding and DiviTrackIP statistical multiplexing solutions optimise our use of the available spectrum, giving us the latitude to add new MPEG-4 AVC-based standard and high-definition television channels in the future.

"Furthermore, by moving to Harmonic's IP-based digital video head-end, we benefit from better scalability, versatility and picture quality, as well as the ability to more effectively manage our distributed environment."