Digital Video Broadcasting in Belgium
Madshrimps is mostly aimed to a worldwide public, though for this one we gladly like to provide extra information for our dearest local readers because I think some are not totally aware of what's happening around them. Belgium exists out of 3 districts: Flanders, Brussels and Walloon, for each of these districts the situation is slightly different when it comes down to DVB. Since 2008 the Flemish government has decided to completely quit broadcasting analog television via the 'ether', though analog tv via cable is still available because of the large amount of people who're still using it plus it's not up to the Flemish government to ban analog cable broadcasting.
there are two mayor DVB providers: Belgacom who offers IPTV via ADSL and Telenet who broadcasts via cable. Third in row is TV Vlaanderen which is being broadcasted via satellite and last but not least is DVB-T broadcasted by VRT (Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroep). All of these provide Flemish TV channels as well as a whole assortment of famous abroad channels like National Geographic and such. With DVB-T it’s slightly different though: VRT, once called NIR/BRT/BRTN has been the public broadcaster ever since TV showed up in Flanders. They are being financed by the government and only broadcast their own TV/radio channels using terrestrial technology. The thing is that their TV/radio channels are also available when choosing DVB-C/DVB-S/IPTV so why would one go for terrestrial broadcasting and have only 2 TV channels when other TV providers can offer you a lot more channels without having to install an antenna on top of the roof (which looks way to ugly too)...
Well, since VRT is using tax money they broadcast free-to-air, and that's unique for Flemish providers, because with all other providers (TV Vlaanderen DVB-S/Telenet DVB-C/Belgacom IPTV) you have to pay a monthly subscription fee which can go from 100€ per year to over 200€ per year depending on which options you choose. DVB-T is not dead because it's free-to-air (FTA), the start-up price is very low, and because it's Digital Video off course. People who don't watch television too often could be DVB-T users, as well as students, people on vacation and off course people on the road because it's wireless.
The decision is up to you, do you really need those extra commercial TV channels or are you satisfied with what you have and save that €100~200 per year for a trip to Italy or maybe Spain :)
VRT DVB-T reception using a roof antenna
In the Brussels district
you'll also find Belgacom TV, Telenet Digital TV and Coditel which is now renamed to Numericable. Numericable broadcasts analog and digitally (SDTV and HDTV) and is an aggressive competitor for both Belgacom and Telenet in the Brussels district.
In the Walloon district
you'll again stumble upon Belgacom TV customers, and very few TV Vlaanderen customers. Since 2008 TV Vlaanderen has however a daughter company named TéléSAT which also broadcasts via DVB-S, especially for people living in Walloon. Third market player here is Voo, a fusion company between ALE-Télédis and Brutele. In Walloon you'll also find DVB-T broadcasted by the RTBF. What the VRT is for the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, RTBF is for the French speaking part of Belgium: DVB-T free-to-air but with only few channels available.
RTBF DVB-T reception using a roof antenna
As you can see from these maps, wireless DVB-T signals are widely available but to put things straight: this is DVB-T reception using a roof antenna, with indoor antenna's you'll probable have to be within 30km from a transmitter in order to receive quality video.Terrestrial Digital Video Broadcasting in Belgium: channel list anno February 2009DVB-T via VRTEén
Radio 1 (audio only)
Radio 2 (audio only)
Klara (audio only)
Klare Continuo (audio only)
Studio Brussel (audio only)
MNM (audio only)
MNM Hitbits (audio only)
Nieuws+ (audio only)
Sporza (audio only)
DVB-T via RTBF
VivaCité (audio only)
Musiq3 (audio only)
Classic 21 (audio only)
PureFM (audio only)
BRF (audio only)
Terrestrial Digital Video Broadcasting in Belgium: current state and future plans
Before 2002 people had to pay government tax to listen and watch TV/Radio independent of which medium they preferred, with cable TV around (adds a lot more channels and doesn't require a roof antenna) many people decided to pay some extra subscription cash instead of choosing analog terrestrial broadcasting. Digital TV brings many benefits but it's only through publicity from private TV providers like Telenet and Belgacom that people came to know that, it's no surprise to see people choosing for Digital TV via cable/ADSL instead of broadcastings from public DVB-T providers VRT/RTBF.
All together let's be honest, with the above channel list you're still missing some of the biggest commercial TV channels in Belgium, plus many people won't grab back to what looks like 50y old tech: the ugly antenna on the roof. Aside of this there is no-one really earning money behind DVB-T broadcastings in Belgium as they're all free-to-air, so why put money into commercials if you hardly get anything back. It has however become a very cheap alternative for watching DVB, though it's no where near a complete replacement for DVB-C/IPTV from Telenet/Belgacom
Future plans might bring the DVB-T2 standard to Belgium which would allow more channels, but fact is that DVB-T2 is still in an early stadium and it will only be for the end of the year that you'll find the first DVB-T2 receivers on the market. DVB-T2 will only become more frequently used by 2010, chances that it will become quickly available here in Belgium are nihil. Well, most people have only now upgraded to the first generation DVB-T receivers and with only few channels available anyway there is no need to upgrade either. High Definition broadcastings might take some time too as their hasn't been made an agreement between the VRT and the Flemish government. Currently the VRT has been given only one multiplex but in order broadcast in HD you need more then that. We did pick up the news that EPG (Electronic Program Guide) is going to be added during this year.
From a personnel view I think it would be cool though to see the few other (commercial) Flemish channels added, even if it would come with a small compensation fee I believe DVB-T would become a lot more interesting for many people here in Belgium. There is only one downside with future in mind: DVB-T doesn't have a returning channel which is used for interactive TV, more experiments might bring a solution to this but I believe at some point DVB-T is just not going to be able to keep up with DVB-C/IPTV.
Now let's move on to our test object, the Compro VideoMate Vista U2800F!