Thinking of Electric Waves Close to Daily Life
Television and mobile phone services are indispensable to our daily life. Both come to us via "electric waves." The electric wave is so close to us but little is known about it. Let us think of it through the launch of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest broadcasting tower that has become a new metropolitan eye-catcher, and the spread of new terrestrial digital broadcasting services.
In the first place, the electric wave is a limited resource as well as a public asset. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications allocates frequencies to individual broadcasting and telecommunications service providers. However, the growing popularity of cellular phones has created a situation where few frequencies are available for additional allocations. It was against this backdrop that digital terrestrial broadcasting has come to draw wider attention.
Digitization is known to have a lot of advantages. It can compress information and is less vulnerable to interference. This allows for a more efficient and effective use of a limited number of frequencies.
The Japanese government has spent 1 trillion yen, including 200 billion yen in taxpayers’ money, to push ahead with its ground digital broadcasting scheme. Frequencies made vacant by the digitalization have been assigned to mobile terminals such as cellular phones.
The 643-meter-high Tokyo Sky Tree that has replaced the 333-meter-high Tokyo Tower was not a state-funded project. Since around 1997, various regions in the metropolis had been vying fiercely with each other for a site to locate a higher broadcasting tower that can take over the role played by the 54-year-old Tokyo Tower.
The state-run Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and five private broadcasting companies (Nippon Television Network Corporation, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc., Fuji Television Network, Inc., TV Asahi Corporation and TV TOKYO Corporation) joined hands in December 2003 to launch their “New Tower Promotion Project.” It had two purposes – to make frequencies easier to reach the viewers shadowed by the high-rise buildings around the Tokyo Tower and to allow cell phone users to have an easier access to One seg and multimedia broadcasting services.
When the broadcasting organizations carried out a joint sample survey using test frequencies between July and October this year as part of preparations for their switchover to the Tokyo Sky Tree, it turned out that many households had failed to receive them properly. Moreover, as the survey was conducted at midnight, the number of responses was not sufficient enough. They decided to carry out a full-scale check for a month in December to get a more accurate picture of the situation.
Written by: Tomomi Kubota