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Let’s get digital

The convergence of linear and streaming programming, advances in technology and sustainability concerns have all driven developments in IPTV around the world.

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Developments in IPTV standards from region to region

Customers stereotypically change channels all the time, but TV channels have done a lot of changing themselves in the last few years. As streaming and linear programming converge, viewers want better audio and video quality, technology improves and climate change makes alert systems crucial, nations around the world have pursued upgrades to their digital TV standards. Many regions have different standards, though, and each country has its own schedule for progress toward the new digital world. Read on for a primer on the Internet Protocol Television standards throughout the world.

ATSC 3.0

North America, South Korea, Suriname and the Dominican Republic use TV specifications from the Advanced Television Systems Committee. ATSC 3.0 – or “NextGen TV” in some areas – entered the arena in 2017 with activation in South Korea and the FCC’s decision that US broadcasters have the option to use it. Since then, organizations like the National Association of Broadcasters have pushed forward with the new technology, despite a few bumps along the way.

As of December 2023, ATSC 3.0 reached 70% of households in the US, with 14 markets in the country incorporating it during that year. Trinidad and Tobago have begun the transition, while Brazil made ATSC 3.0 one of the leading candidates as it prepares for its next generation of digital TV. South Korean company SK Square has teamed up with US-based Sinclair Broadcasting to coordinate upgrades between the two countries, a process that includes the expansion of data distribution as a service, and India is navigating potential mandatory phone upgrades while handling pushback from manufacturers.


Europe and Australia, as well as many Asian, South American and African countries, use the Digital Video Broadcasting standards. DVB-T2, approved in 2009, increases bit rates and makes reception more robust compared to DVB-T, while  DVB-I aims to pick up both internet and traditional TV services for a unified delivery. Adoption of both standards varies considerably from nation to nation.

DVB-I has become the backup delivery system for TV signals in Italy, the Republic of Ireland has tested it and the UK has implemented a limited version for BBC channels. Italy is also on its way to adopting DVB-T2, although 8.4 million homes still didn’t have compatible sets as of December 2023. Comparatively, 93% of Polish households were ready for the switch in November. 

In response to climate change and other concerns, DVB has also created an energy efficiency working group, which will make sure future standards consider sustainability. It will “use a light-touch process” and establish terms over the next few months. 

ISDB-T and its international variant

Another major standard, ISDB-T International, comes from Japan’s ISDB-T specifications. A number of South American countries use ISDB-T International, as do the Philippines, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Botswana.  

As with the other digital TV standards, adoption is uneven. Provinces of the Philippines only have about 50% penetration, for instance, missing a 2020 deadline. The country’s Department of Information and Communications Technology has started working with  Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which DICT Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo says will help the transition. Japan has also provided its standards to Sri Lanka and will support the country’s shift in all aspects.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the fragmentation of standards – with some countries using ISDB-T, some using DVB and a few using China’s DTMB – has limited the potential for coordination. Only 38% of homes in the region have digital TV currently, but experts predict that will rise slightly to 41% in 2027. 

Living in a digital world

The next generation of digital TV has been in the works for more than a decade, moving forward despite technological setbacks, corporate decisions and world turmoil. As 2024 begins, countries and standards bodies alike are confronting new topics in whatever standard they use, from green energy and sustainability to advances in TV over internet protocol. The future is digital, and TV providers need to be as well.