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Status of the Digital TV transition in Central America

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  • Status of the Digital TV transition in Central America

    I thought I would post an *update* of the transition to digital TV in the Central American countries. This is kind of a addendum to Raymie's OPMA Mexico TV/FM news forum. In my research for FM News for the WTFDA FM database, I continue to come across news stories about the digital television transition in Central America. It appears the digital television transition is happening at a faster pace in African countries than it is in the Central American countries.

    • El Salvador has been in something of a turmoil with deciding on a standard for their digital TV. In March 2009 the ATSC committee announced that El Salvador had chosen the ATSC standard, but have since withdrawn that decision. The El Salvador government is concerned with what their neighboring countries have decided. They were wanting to get started by 2018, but they have had a few roadblocks along the way. El Salvador is currently testing ATSC, ISDB-T and DVB. The latest news on the process was posted January 12, 2017-

    http://www.centralamericadata.com/es...n_a_TV_digital
    • Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, analog TV will cease on December 15 of this year. Yes, less than a year left of analog TV in Costa Rica!! Costa Rica has selected ISDB-T for their standard. The state channel, "Canal 13", was the first one to make the transmission using the digital TV technology, in March 2012. You can read the latest here...

    http://www.ticotimes.net/2015/12/03/...ion-digital-tv
    http://www.centralamericadata.com/es...n_a_TV_digital
    • Panamá has chosen the DVB-T standard. Panamá chose the DVB-T standard in August 2010 and began the digital television transition in September 2011 in phases. The anticipated transition completion is for the end of 2017. The implementation of digital TV in the country was divided into four phases, each of them during 18 months. The 1st phase started in Sept 2011 and ended in March 2013 providing the provinces of Panamá and Colón with digital TV transmission. The analog signal will remain on until the 4th phase is complete and then all analog signals will be turned off. The 2nd phase will include the provinces of Coclé, Herrera, Los Santos and Veraguas. The 3rd will include the provinces of Chiriquí and Bocas de Toro. The 4th will take digital TV to the province of Darién. ASEP, the Panamá license authority has put up a website to help the consumer understand the transition...

    http://www.asep-rtvdigitalpanama.gob.pa/
    • Nicaragua indicated on August 20, 2010 they would probably go with the ISDB-T standard. On August 4, 2015, they made it official when the president of Telcor signed an official statement that the ISDB-T standard had been selected. Their transition schedule has not been made public yet.
    • Guatemala announced the ISDB-T standard on May 31, 2013. Their timetable for the transition is yet to be announced.
    • Honduras, in 2007, announced they would use the ATSC standard, but later changed their mind. They announced in September 2013 they would use the ISDB-T standard. Their timetable is yet to be determined.
    • In Belize, the ITU has confirmed the Belize government has not even began researching digital television to establish a standard.
    Jim Thomas
    Springfield, MO EM37

    "Let's just plop them in front of the TV. I was raised in front of the TV and I turned out TV." - Homer Simpson


    Fall & Winter 2019 dx equipment
    Antennas - Antennacraft MXU59 UHF antenna & home-brew version of Antennacraft VHF Y-10-7-13 antenna @ 25'. Both antennas fed through a Channel Master 7777 30dB pre-amp.
    Tuners - Zenith DTT901 converter box; AirSpy HF+ sdr; Silicon Dust HD Homerun Dual ATSC tuner, using Rabbitears autologger support.

  • #2
    El Salvador just chose ISDB-T a week or two ago. Humberto has a post on it, I think in the Chat Room. Good call on their part in terms of standard choice.
    Follow En Frecuencia on Medium and Twitter @EnFrecuencia, your Mexican broadcasting blog.

    The Reference Section features the HD Radio map, list of Article 90 reserved band clears, and more.

    Comment


    • #3
      And I'm sure all of these countries will be abandoning the VHF-lo band just like Mexico. I'd gladly monitor for DVB and ISDB if I thought I'd get anything for it. BrickWall.gif

      Comment


      • #4
        Ryan, you're well-positioned for DTMB from Cuba

        (and seriously, with the recent Gulf tropo opening, are you sure ISDB-T reception from Central America *isn't* possible?)
        Doug Smith W9WI
        Pleasant View, TN EM66
        http://www.w9wi.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Raymie View Post
          El Salvador just chose ISDB-T a week or two ago. Humberto has a post on it, I think in the Chat Room. Good call on their part in terms of standard choice.
          Thanks Raymie. I knew I saw that information somewhere, but couldn't remember where.
          Jim Thomas
          Springfield, MO EM37

          "Let's just plop them in front of the TV. I was raised in front of the TV and I turned out TV." - Homer Simpson


          Fall & Winter 2019 dx equipment
          Antennas - Antennacraft MXU59 UHF antenna & home-brew version of Antennacraft VHF Y-10-7-13 antenna @ 25'. Both antennas fed through a Channel Master 7777 30dB pre-amp.
          Tuners - Zenith DTT901 converter box; AirSpy HF+ sdr; Silicon Dust HD Homerun Dual ATSC tuner, using Rabbitears autologger support.

          Comment


          • #6
            Agreed.

            ISDB-T is the Japanese standard, also used in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Botswana.

            Japan and Brazil cooperated on a modified version called ISDB-TB. The primary difference is ISDB-TB uses H.264 compression, allowing more subchannels and/or higher quality in the same number of subchannels.

            (I should note, many countries are far more restrictive than the U.S. in allowing use of subchannels. U.S. stations don't require government permission to launch subs. Mexican stations do, although it seems to be fairly freely given. Canadian stations require a separate license to launch a subchannel and to my knowledge only one such license has been issued. A station was running an audio-only program to feed programming to the transmitter of a co-owned radio station, and decided they'd better apply for a license when they learned, much to their surprise, that members of the general public were listening to the station on their TVs.

            I believe in Brazil, only non-commercial stations are allowed to run more than one program.)

            ISDB-TB is used in nearly every country in South America. The exceptions would be Colombia and French Guiana (European DVB-T); Guyana (ATSC); and Surinam. (no DTV decision yet)
            Doug Smith W9WI
            Pleasant View, TN EM66
            http://www.w9wi.com

            Comment


            • #7
              I have read rumors on the electronic gadget forums that many of the digital TV manufacturers are seriously contemplating removing tuners in future sets. The general consensus seems to be the manufacturers would like to make video displays (lcd, plasma, etc) a universal product and not have to worry about making them FIT certain countries. The consumer would then have to decide if they want to add an OTA reception device for the country they live in. I'm really curious if that idea will get any traction in the TV manufacturing world? I guess time will tell.
              Jim Thomas
              Springfield, MO EM37

              "Let's just plop them in front of the TV. I was raised in front of the TV and I turned out TV." - Homer Simpson


              Fall & Winter 2019 dx equipment
              Antennas - Antennacraft MXU59 UHF antenna & home-brew version of Antennacraft VHF Y-10-7-13 antenna @ 25'. Both antennas fed through a Channel Master 7777 30dB pre-amp.
              Tuners - Zenith DTT901 converter box; AirSpy HF+ sdr; Silicon Dust HD Homerun Dual ATSC tuner, using Rabbitears autologger support.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by w9wi View Post
                Ryan, you're well-positioned for DTMB from Cuba

                (and seriously, with the recent Gulf tropo opening, are you sure ISDB-T reception from Central America *isn't* possible?)
                If you're selling a DTMB box, I'm buying. I'd expect tuners for the other systems to be more widely available.

                Unfortunately I'm not aware of any TV catches, by tropo, from Florida to Central America.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I hope that tuner is compliant with 6 MHz bandwidth DTMB. All tuners and dongles sold in AliExpress are 8 MHz-DTMB only.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I know they're making TVs in Cuba, but even if I could order one wouldn't I run afoul of the embargo? (Besides, I'd much rather buy a converter box than ship even a small TV.)

                    Perhaps there will be an SDR plugin I can use to decode DTMB? I'd certainly be able to set the bandwith to whatever I need, even well below 6 MHz due to the way OFDM works.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would like one to take to the Keys when Hepburn maps are good 'N' red....

                      cd

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gargadon View Post
                        I hope that tuner is compliant with 6 MHz bandwidth DTMB. All tuners and dongles sold in AliExpress are 8 MHz-DTMB only.
                        That is good to know. Thanks Gargadon. I was thinking of buying one of those DTMB Tuners sold on AliExpress website I am sure glad I did not.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There are some universal set top box digital TV receivers manufactured by Austin TX based company, Silicon Labs. They also have an East coast corporate office in Boston. These receivers are capable of ATSC/QAM, DVB-T2/T/C2/C, ISDB-T/C, and DTMB. I have turned in an inquiry ticket through their sales department to find out how a person purchases one of these. It appears they have a network of dealers in the United States. I might send emails to some of the dealers near me to find out if they are able to order these STB's. I notice that Digikey is a dealer for them. I know many dxers have ordered various board filters and similar things from them.

                          This is their overview page of SiLabs set-top-boxes....
                          http://www.silabs.com/products/video...es/si21x4.aspx

                          It appears these are just tuner chips for set-top-boxes. The consumer would have to locate the manufacturers that use them...
                          http://mms.businesswire.com/media/20...ress-image.jpg

                          Here is the link for the PDF for the Si2141...
                          http://www.silabs.com/Support%20Docu...2141-short.pdf

                          The Si2144 set-top-box model...
                          https://www.silabs.com/Support%20Doc...2144-short.pdf

                          And then they have the Si2151 Worldwide Digital and Analog TV Tuner. They don't say this is a set-top-box. It could be just the component that is installed in the television component by the manufacturer. After reading the document of this particular tuner, it would be most interesting to locate a set-top-box or TV that uses this particular tuner...
                          http://www.silabs.com/Support%20Docu...2151-short.pdf
                          Jim Thomas
                          Springfield, MO EM37

                          "Let's just plop them in front of the TV. I was raised in front of the TV and I turned out TV." - Homer Simpson


                          Fall & Winter 2019 dx equipment
                          Antennas - Antennacraft MXU59 UHF antenna & home-brew version of Antennacraft VHF Y-10-7-13 antenna @ 25'. Both antennas fed through a Channel Master 7777 30dB pre-amp.
                          Tuners - Zenith DTT901 converter box; AirSpy HF+ sdr; Silicon Dust HD Homerun Dual ATSC tuner, using Rabbitears autologger support.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Jim, by all means, keep us posted on this. True Tropo season is about 5 weeks away, and of course you know my QTH.

                            cd

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jim Thomas View Post
                              There are some universal set top box digital TV receivers manufactured by Austin TX based company, Silicon Labs. They also have an East coast corporate office in Boston. These receivers are capable of ATSC/QAM, DVB-T2/T/C2/C, ISDB-T/C, and DTMB. I have turned in an inquiry ticket through their sales department to find out how a person purchases one of these. It appears they have a network of dealers in the United States. I might send emails to some of the dealers near me to find out if they are able to order these STB's. I notice that Digikey is a dealer for them. I know many dxers have ordered various board filters and similar things from them.

                              This is their overview page of SiLabs set-top-boxes....
                              http://www.silabs.com/products/video...es/si21x4.aspx

                              It appears these are just tuner chips for set-top-boxes. The consumer would have to locate the manufacturers that use them...
                              http://mms.businesswire.com/media/20...ress-image.jpg
                              Yes, this is just the tuner chip. It downconverts the incoming signals to a low intermediate frequency (LIF) around 5MHz.
                              A separate chip is required to demodulate the LIF signals to a datastream & process it to audio & video.
                              They do mention "Single Low-IF (LIF) output to SoC and/or demodulator". SoC is "System on a Chip". By loading different firmware into the SoC you could, presumably, demodulate different DTV standards without replacing the hardware.
                              Whether any of this would be exposed to the end user is another question. There are relatively few places where a populated area lies on the border between two different DTV standards.

                              Here is the link for the PDF for the Si2141...
                              http://www.silabs.com/Support%20Docu...2141-short.pdf

                              The Si2144 set-top-box model...
                              https://www.silabs.com/Support%20Doc...2144-short.pdf

                              And then they have the Si2151 Worldwide Digital and Analog TV Tuner. They don't say this is a set-top-box. It could be just the component that is installed in the television component by the manufacturer. After reading the document of this particular tuner, it would be most interesting to locate a set-top-box or TV that uses this particular tuner...
                              http://www.silabs.com/Support%20Docu...2151-short.pdf
                              I guess what I'm getting at is that just because a device uses one of these chips, that doesn't necessarily mean it can receive all world DTV standards.
                              This page shows Silabs' demodulator offerings. They do seem to have one that does both ISDB and DVB-T but I don't see anything that does DTMB or ATSC.

                              I do find it interesting that these tuner chips offer a 1.7MHz bandwidth selection. I have no idea where that would be in use. British hams are experimenting with DVB-T in a 1MHz bandwidth. The picture is less than standard definition, but the coverage is pretty good (important given that transmitter output power is limited to 400 watts in the U.K.) and it fits in bands where TV would otherwise be impossible. (the 2-meter band is normally only 144-146MHz there, but 146-147 is available for special experiments -- like this)
                              Doug Smith W9WI
                              Pleasant View, TN EM66
                              http://www.w9wi.com

                              Comment

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