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Digital TV breaks into Cuba

Digital TV breaks into Cuba

Posted by Leyden Figueredo on March 20, 2014

The technological change from analogue television to digital terrestrial television started worldwide in 1998. It is estimated that by 2020, 90% of all TVs will be able to receive digital signals, which will produce an acute shortage of spare parts for analogue devices in general. And now, it comes to Cuba.

It is an inevitable change that every country must face and that is included in the many digitalization processes that have affected other technologies; such as in fixed and mobile telephony, data storage, internet, media, cinema, satellite transmission and communication as a whole.

The arrival of DTV in Cuba in 2013 is a comprehensive project of social infraestructure that aims to introduce high technology that benefits population. One of its objectives is to integrate Cuba in the unavoidable technological obsolescence, that will generate even higher expenses in short term. For its implementation, the particularities of the island have been taken into account and only the bare essential expenses will be made; however, it does represent a considerable economic effort for the country.

The most convenient television standard for Cuba is the Chinese DTMB (Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcast) since the evidence provided shows better technical results in tests carried out in Havana, after more than ten years of similar trials led in Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and other Latin American countries.

One processing centre and five DTV transmitters were installed and activated last May; from which eight TV channels , six radio stations and data supporting services are broadcasted.

This is the new television that allows high-definiton (HD) broadcasting, which means that viewers will watch images in a much more superior quality than today's. 

The first stage of this service was a test in which people were given a decoder - given the fact that it was a state-test- with a value of 7.35 CUP (0.35 CAD) for storage, transportation, distribution and technical support expenses. The previously mentioned decoders were donated by the Chinese government.

The results of a preceding test were considered for the experiment, which allowed to pinpoint areas in the centre of the capital city and in peripheral neighbourhoods with reception problems that hindered a proper visualization.

When the testing period comes to an end, in June 2014, the different box models will be commercialized in Tiendas Recaudadores de Divisas (''Exchange Collecting Stores'') for a price yet to be fixed.

It has been said by national media that Digital TV would be available in all Cuba by 2021; and that is seven years ahead. Cuban people think that, given the accelerated development of Technology, when the time finally comes DTV will be obsolete and that probably not everyone will have access to the decoder boxes.

In the light of this question, engineer Eduardo Cabrera Abizaid, researcher of LACETEL, Institute for the Research and Development of Telecommunications, answered that by 2021, in very developed nations internet TV will perhaps monopolize most viewers' preference.

''But for other countries - he stated - the process of DTV is just beginning so I can assure that we will be up-to-date''. ''On top of this, an analogue switch-off is planned for 2021, a moment when having a digital receptor will be vital'', he added.

Justo Martínez, an Abel Santamaría citizen in the province of Santiago de Cuba, claims to be very glad for the island's advances towards the digital era, but he is concerned that once the testing period is over, he might not be able to afford a decoder, not even in a long term.

''It is true that those who can't afford a receptor can acquire the LED televisions (32'') that are currently being developed in the country with a DTMB standard, but I'm not sure they'll be accessible for all''

Meanwhile, Miguel Salina, a Villa Clara's resident, is eager to have this service, no matter how it gets to him. ''TV signals in the interior of the country are very weak and therefore their reception is bad, this technology means a change towards improvement, and to me that is more than enough. The rest is on me.''

Nevertheless, despite the benefits, Luis A. Montero Cabrera said to Panamericanworld that he questions the adoption of a standard that is used in countries thousands of kilometres away, regardless the quality. ''It's just like going to a 220v current in the net, or removing the NTSC-M to adopt PAL. How hard is it going to be for us in the future to keep this standard on our side instead of adopting the one that predominates in our geographical context?''

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