The bodies involved in Italy in the spectrum management and planning are:
− Ministry of communication (MIN COM): entitled for spectrum allocation and for private and public services frequency assignment for civil utilisation as well as the elaboration of the assignment plans apart of broadcasting services. The Ministry is also in charge of representing Italy in relevant international bodies, such as, ITU, CEPT, EC.
− Authority of telecommunications (AGCOM): entitled of frequency planning for broadcasting services. The Authority was appointed in 1997.
The main AGCOM tools are Plans and Resolutions for broadcasting services. During last years different Plans were defined:
− 1998: Analogue TV Plan
− 2002: DAB Plan for VHF-Band and L-Band
− 2003: DTT Plan.
Up to now none of these Plans has been implemented. Probably the difficulties are related to the actual use of the very overcrowded Italian radio electric spectrum:
− 10 National Analogue broadcasters (Rai1, Rai2, Rai3, Canale 5, Italia 1, Rete 4, La 7, MTV,
ReteA-Allmusic, Rete Capri)
− 7 National Digital broadcasters (Rai-MuxA; Rai-MuxB; Mediaset1, Mediaset2; PrimaTV-Dfree; TIMB-MBOne; ReteA-AllMusic)
− 584 local broadcasters (divided in two politically strong associations).
A total of 24 000 transmitters/frequencies are today used in Italy.
In 2001 Italian Parliament approved a law (n. 66/01 updated in 2007), which envisages the complete transition from analogue to digital terrestrial television by the end of 2012 (the previuos term for A.S.O. was 2008).
In 2004 a further law (n. 112/04), under the co-ordination of the Ministry of Communications, fixed a number of pre-operating activities which have been undertaken by the public and private Italian broadcasters. In this context
RAI obligations were to implement 2 DTT Multiplexes which had to reach:
− 50% of national population coverage by the end of 2003.
− 70% of national population coverage by the end of 2004.
7.3 DTT at Present
The coverage of the digital national broadcasters is reported in Table 9 (source: MinCom –2007).
DTT national broadcaster coverage
7.4 The “Italia Digitale” Committee
A solution to the complexity in the process of Italian digitisation, seems to be emerging from the work which has been carrying out by the “Italia Digitale” committee. In August 2006 the Minister for Communications set this national committee bringing together: broadcasters (national and local), network operators, Ministry, Authority, universities.
The goal is to define the way to achieve the national switch off for the transition to DTT service according to the results of GE06 Plan trying, where possible, to release frequencies in order to create a digital dividend.
The Committee is divided in two different groups:
− The “Steering Group” (with address purpose), chaired by the Italian Minister for Communications.
− The “Technical Group” (a group for the technical support), divided in different working groups: communication to users, data and research, assistance to users, network development and monitoring, regulatory aspects, contents and programs (for digital television).
The main task assigned to the Working Group “Network development and monitoring” (of the Technical Group), is the definition and scheduling of the so named “All digital” Areas (in which the analogue switch off has been accomplished).
7.5 The “Technical Area” Concept
The best approach to identify the “All digital” areas appeared to be taking into account the present broadcasting network architecture. This has been done introducing the “Technical Area” concept: part of the country not necessarily limited by administrative boundaries.
In Fig. 41 is illustrated a comparison between the Italian Administrative Regions (Fig. 41a)) and Technical Areas geographies (Fig. 41b)).
The full plan for national switchover was presented on 10 September 2008 by Ministry of Communication; it is subdivided in 8 semesters as detailed in Fig. 42.
Analogue switch-off has been completed in Sardinia on 31 October 2008. In the Val d'Aosta region it will begin in the spring of 2009. The next steps will concern the provinces of Turin and Cuneo and the regions of Trentino and Alto Adige.
The 8 semesters of the A.S.O. Plan
The advantages of this approach are:
− ease in industrial decoder distribution;
− ease in direct communication to users due to the fact that the cities involved in switch off are exactly defined;
− minimization of the area with analogue-digital simulcast encouraging the technological renewal trend similarity to the allotment attribution of the GE06 Plan.
7.6.1 Development of the Plan
On 15 October 2008 at 0830 hours. Sardinia, and with it Italy, has finally entered the new era of digital television. That was the beginning of a process that ended in 31October when the whole island of Sardinia moved into digital broadcasting. Sardinia, with its 1 600 000 habitants and more than 640 000 households is now one of the largest areas in Europe that has converted to digital television.
On 10 September 2008, the Italian government, with a decree signed by the Minister of Economic Development, Claudio Scajola, and presented by the Secretary with special responsibility for Communications, Paolo Romani, presented the timetable for the final passage of the whole country to digital terrestrial television. The decree provides for a division of the gradual transition of the various Italian regions into 16 areas, which will make the transition to digital television from the second half of 2009 to the second half of 2012.
The positive experience of Sardinia confirms that switching to digital terrestrial operation benefits broadcasters, but especially users. Citizens of Sardinia, that had received 26 analogue television channels
(10 national and 16 local), can now choose from a new offer of 59 free digital television channels
(29 national and 30 local), well structured and accessible to all citizens.
The Val d’Aosta region in its entirety will make the transition to digital terrestrial television on May 2009. It is a historical step, which the telecommunications industry is following with great interest, and it will also be a test case because Val d’Aosta will be the first Italian region where the switch off will be done in full compliance with international spectrum coordination provisions.
The transition to digital television will free a large number of valuable frequencies in the UHF band, and these will become available to new entrants. The Italian government expects to release more frequencies in Val d'Aosta than they did in Sardinia. This will be possible because of the characteristics of the region, where the migration to digital terrestrial television is easier, as the Alps protect against interference
In the Val d’Aosta region it should be possible to use all the 55 digital terrestrial television frequencies and, and addition, a frequency dedicated to digital terrestrial radio services. In fact, the transition in the Val d’Aosta region runs ahead of schedule, since the RAI 2 and the Rete 4 networks have already made the transition to digital television in the spring of 2007. This step has encouraged the audience to purchase the decoders required to watch those networks. The same technical approach may be adopted in other regions so that the audience is prepared for the analogue television switch off.
The Italian government, at the request of the European Union, is committed to deliver a dividend in the digital TV transition from analog to digital, which will provide operators of new entrants five multiplexes, each one with the availability of 5-6 channels.
RAI and Mediaset have created a new company (48% each) and a minority stake in the hands of Telecom Italia Media. The task of the new company is to promote the development of digital terrestrial television through cooperation among the various broadcasters, but also to give birth, in June 2009, to a satellite platform called “TV Sat”, that will be open to all broadcasters. This platform will re-broadcast the programmes already broadcasted by the digital terrestrial television service, in order to cover those areas that cannot be reached by the terrestrial service.