From Branislav Pekic in Rome
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasting in Portugal started on April 29th on a total of 29 locations, representing a 40 per cent population coverage.
Portugal Telecom, which has been selected as the network operator, managed to launch the service in more than the 10-12 regions originally announced. The free-to-air DTT multiplex currently includes national TV channels RTP1, RTP2, SIC and TVI, as well as two channels (RTP Madeira and RTP AÃ§ores) that are available in the Autonomous Regions. It will also carry a 5th national TV channel in the future as well as a HDTV channel.
MPEG-4 digital set-top boxes are available at prices ranging from E30 to E90. Portugal Telecom's mobile unit, TMN, is also making available a mobile broadband USB pen drive for E149 that serves as an antenna for the reception of DTT on computers.
According to Portugal Telecom's executive president, Zeinal Bava, 80 per cent coverage of the population will be achieved by the end of the year, with an ASO target of 2010. The operator estimates that out of the 4.5 million households, 47 per cent or 2 million are potential DTT customers as they do not currently subscribe to pay-TV via cable or satellite.
The locations where DTT launched are: Alcochete, Almada, AlpiarÃ§a, Amadora, Barreiro, Benavente, Chaves, Coimbra, Entroncamento, Ã‰vora, Faro, Funchal, Gaia, GolegÃ£, Lisbon, Mangualde, Matosinhos, Moita, Montijo, Oeiras, OlhÃ£o, Palmela, Ponta Delgada, Porto, Salvaterra de Magos, Seixal, Sintra, Torres Novas and Viana do Castelo.