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Tunisia: ETT offers its first DTT offering, Talfazti, which started life on the Internet

Mourad Agrebi, technical director at ETT, Etablissement de la TV Tunisienne confirmed to Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre that his public organisation is testing DTT across Tunisia.

The state-owned company which manages two national channels, Tunis 7 (or TV 7) and Tunisie 21 (canal 21) does not yet know what will be the final list of channels that DTT will transport but it should start with a cluster of about 8 to 12 channels, a mix of national and local channels.

Tunisia started experimental DTT transmission back in 2001. "Now with its latest deployment of transmitters, the coverage should increase to 90% of the country with a launch planned by the end of 2010. We are launching DTT SD but not yet DTT HD." added Agrebi.

The required bandwidth is 270 Mbit/s for a TV signal using 525 to 625 lines. The digital broadcast will use the DVB-T standard.

The Tunisian broadcast Office National Télédiffusion (ONT) selected Thomson to digitise its network in August 2009. The expanded network will consist of 17 DVB-T transmission sites throughout the country via 60 stations, each using MPEG-4 head-end platforms. After analogue switch-off in 2015, 8 UHF and 1 VHF multiplexes are planned.

The first DTT offering called “Talfazti”, initially available on the Internet, has been brought together by the company and DTT operator VNET and is a mix of audiovisual programmes with thematic content in Arabic and French. The 12 channel offering will include existing TV channels and radios. In 2010 coverage will reach 90% of the country, increasing to 100% by 2014.

With the advent of digital terrestrial television (DTT), analogue television will gradually disappear from Tunisia’s television landscape. After some delays, by the end of 2010 most of North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) will have access to 15 digital channels, a revolution in the Maghrebian media landscape.

The establishment of digital terrestrial television will cover all of the country by 2014, with the re-use of frequency spectrum to develop future services for communications via high-capacity radio waves high-flow mobile Internet services such as Wimax and the development of broadcasting technologies such as high-resolution systems.

The DTT project will enable users to get the signal via Yagi areal, DVT converters and TV setup boxes or computer DTT chips. Mobile TV is also on the map to capture the DTT signal. DTT will allow to develop other applications such as streaming, file exchange, broadband internet access, tele-conferencing, e-learning and e-health.

On top of the planned DTT access, TV7 and canal 21 are transmitted via Nilesat and Eutelsat satellites in Maghreb and the Middle-East. The company has also sealed agreements to broadcast in North America via the UK through Telestar.

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