On 11 December 2006, the Netherlands is to become the first European country to switch off its analogue terrestrial signal. Netherlands was originally due to switch over to purely digital terrestrial television (DTT) earlier this year, but an unexpected change in government due to a rift in the governing coalition led to the date being postponed until later in 2006. DTT broadcaster KPN, which runs the commercial TV platform Digitenne, has stated that it will provide the public service channels free-to-air as of 11 December. Digitenne is currently the only DTT platform in the Netherlands and boasts over 245,000 subscribers to its service.
The switch will not actually affect the majority of the Dutch population, with cable-TV penetration in the Netherlands nearing 100 per cent. Only 74,000 households currently receive purely analogue terrestrial TV. Following the switch-over, these households will be able to receive the three public service channels available previously through analogue broadcasts, but will require a digital set-top box to decode the signals. Set-top boxes are retailing at between €20 and €40.
Switch off is planned in countries across Europe from between now and the end of 2012 when, in theory, Europe should be entirely switched over to digital terrestrial. In practise, this will not be the case, with some countries struggling to roll-out the necessary infrastructure and technology required to complete the transition. The switch off of the signal will free up bandwidth for the provision of new services, including mobile TV, Wi-Fi and additional emergency service frequencies.
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