Italy's Television Sector Goes 100 Percent Digital

Sicily was the last region to make the change, which will improve the quality of broadcasted audio and video while using less energy.

ROME – The last analogue television signal in Italy -- in Sicily -- was shut down Wednesday, meaning that for the first time ever Italy’s television airwaves are 100 percent digital, completing a process begun in 2008.

Though Italy is among the last countries in the European Union to make the complete switch to digital television, the timing is within the time perameters set out by the EU in 2006. Italy's original plan called for the changeover to be complete by the end of 2010, and around 85 percent of Italian territory was covered by that date. But the remaining parts took an additional 18 months to prepare.

The change, which impacts 10 national channels, 550 local channels, and nearly 25,000 transmission systems, improves the quality of televised video and audio, while creating space for more channels over the same bandwidth, and less power required to broadcast programming. Only newer televisions are equipped to show digitally broadcast programming.

The region of Reggio Calabria also made the changeover recently, leaving many residents without a television equipped to receive digital signals during Italy's run through the recent European Union soccer championships. Reports are that word was spread about where the games could be watched, and many properly equipped households held house parties so their neighbors could tune in.

The process was started in 2008 on the island region of Sardinia where the autonomous market and small population made it an idea area to test the new technology. Italy’s other island region, Sicily, was the last in general because the switchovers progressed from north to south and in part because the broadcast infrastructure there made the switchover more difficult.