The national broadcaster of Finland, Yleisradio (Yle), is to move its HDTV broadcasts to Digita’s UHF network and improve availability of the service. In fact, this can be regarded as the long-awaited start of HDTV era in the Finnish terrestrial TV. Yle published the deal on 17 December 2019.
Yle’s HD broadcasts will be started on 1 April 2020 in Digita’s multiplex B. Currently the multiplex consists of not more than 13 big transmitters (plus one gap filler) and gives a population coverage of 85%. However, the aim is to swiftly expand the multiplex to cover all Finnish households by 1 June 2020. This is to replicate the current multiplex A; i.e. 38 big transmitters with around 150 gap fillers. Technically the network is a combination of DVB-T2 and MPEG4.
Yle continues with its current SD (T1 & MPEG2) broadcasts in Digita’s multiplex A and thus households face no sudden need to upgrade their receiver systems. Another positive news to the households is that the current receiver antenna settings remain fully functional for the HD service since the broadcast sites in multiplexes A and B are the same and the frequency band, UHF, remains the same. Yle is often regarded as the first-mover in terrestrial broadcasts in Finland and the deal is likely to pave the way for the commercial broadcasters. One might expect that Yle’s objective is to cease T1 broadcasts as soon as feasible to limit costs but the firm has not given any indication on the length of the simulcast period.
Switching over to T2/HD has been a challenging process in Finland. The major broadcasters, including e.g. Yle, Mtv and Sanoma, agreed already in 2016 to cease T1/SD and switch over to T2/HD on 1 April 2020 but the plan proved unrealistic. One of the key reasons was legal wrangling Yle faced in its T2 procurement process. Now it seems that T2/HD transition will get started in a serious manner.
Yle had no other choice but to continue with Digita since Digita regained monopoly in terrestrial TV networks after Dna decided to discontinue its VHF network. Yle used to have HD service available in Dna’s network but the network never gained a strong foothold.