Parts of regional South Australia and NSW will have access to a new satellite television service before analog signals are switched off on December 15, despite all digital TV channels being ready for viewing.
In the October report from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy on Digital Television Transmission and Reception the areas in South Australia and Broken Hill (far-west NSW) slated for the next switch over have all available digital TV channels on-air.
Based on information from broadcasters, the Riverland, Mount Gambier and Spencer Gulf regions in SA have no digital services “not yet implemented” as of August 31.
“It is expected that regional South Australia (Mt Gambier, Riverland and Spencer Gulf) and Broken Hill will get access to the new satellite service before switchover in those areas,” according to the report.
On June 30 this year the Mildura-Sunraysia region in Victoria became the first digital-only area in the country as analog TV broadcasts are phased out by the end of 2013.
Some people have complained about a degradation in signal quality with digital compared to analog, but communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy is pushing ahead with alternatives like satellite and “enhanced terrestrial coverage” to fill any black spots.
In general, the large capital cities have no outstanding digital services, but areas around Darwin are still waiting for at total of seven services.
It’s a different story in areas classified as “regional”, however, with some 200 digital services expected to be provided before the switch over are yet to be implemented.
The remainder of digital services waiting to be switched on are in “remote” areas.
In Tasmania there are some 55 digital channel services yet to be implemented.
Spokesperson for consumer action group Digital Tasmania Andrew Connor said satellite may fill any holes in the the digital TV roll out, but people still need to be aware of the costs of sharing TV signals in the home and the maintenance and replacement of satellite equipment.
“Eventually, digital could also pump up the signal strength when analog is gone,” Connor said.
Connor said the government is spending money on digital TV transmitters, but it is also spending billions on NBN fibre that could “deliver the same channels”.