Benefits of digital TV

It is very important to achieve appropriate incentives in starting the process of transition from analogue TV to digital TV to achieve a satisfactory result. It requires the establishment of conditions and targets for key stakeholders and other competitors.

Carlos Pantsios Markhauser *

Television is still, today, the telecommunications platform of interest worldwide. Its penetration into the world's population is the highest that any telecommunications platform has reached. Television is one of the favorite pastimes in any country in the world and is part of the fabric of our global society.

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The goal of TV broadcasters is delivering high-quality original content, wherever you are. TV Free-to-Air (FTA) is essential for this purpose. For this, the Broadcasting Terrestrial-digital TV (DTTB) plays a key role in this form of open television transmission.

DTTB has come to rescue platform analogue television in the world, which was completely stalled after more than 60 years of uninterrupted and reliable service, with a group of advanced digital technologies that made the use of better transmission standards possible and delivering a broad spectrum of services, highly appreciated by consumers and will generate benefits in the medium and long term for the entire broadcasting industry.

The great value of terrestrial TV broadcasting for broadcasting industry should not be underestimated. In recent 10 years, the DTTB has dramatically evolved to offer the viewer services of very high quality, new features, including personal digital recording (PVR), a line-up growing channels in HDTV, in outline on demand.

This process will occur if the digital television thrives in the world for years to come. However, the future of TV Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial depends on the availability of radio spectrum, which is an exhaustible natural resource whose demand is increasing for a wide choice of applications and users.

It has been recognized worldwide, the DTTB has the following key attributes:
- The DTTB plays a critical role in the global broadcasting and ecology content.
- The economic benefits of the DTTB are considerable and higher than anticipated.
- The DTTB delivers more value mobile broadband platform that competes with its spectrum (700MHz).
- This competition between DTTB and mobile broadband services tilts towards DTTB when, for example, the amount of spectrum used by the respective services is taken into consideration.
- A strong DTTB platform is critical to strong competition in the TV market, and to carry out a wide range of social benefits.

The so-called "Digital Switchover" in many countries around the world is a huge success story. For this reason, it is very important that future decisions on the use of radio spectrum avoid a negative impact on the chances of selection of channels owned by the consumer, competition between platforms, investment content and creativity industry and its ability to create jobs and growth.

Incorporating TV Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial is a complex and potentially long-term process, which directly involves many participants. Including government, policy makers, regulators, broadcasters and consumers are included. Also it involves many other components of the industry, such as content providers, service providers, network operators, manufacturers of receivers and equipment vendors.

The incidence of benefits and costs of DTTB is widely dispersed among different participants, meaning that any individual participant wins all the benefit while incurring the cost of the operation of digital service (DSO). For this reason, it is very important to achieve the appropriate starting the process of transition from TV to TV-Analog-Digital to achieve a satisfactory result incentives. This requires the establishment of conditions and targets for key stakeholders and other competitors.

Governments play a key role here in establishing these objectives and in the right direction in the process of analogue switch (switchover) and usually set the time schedule to complete satisfactorily with the digital switchover. An interesting strategy here is the establishment of phases in the process of digital migration, contemplating brownouts replacing a widespread blackout. The time it takes to complete the migration to digital TV-may differ between countries and depends on the satisfactory performance of activities during each phase of the process.

While the adoption of digital broadcasting was led by cable, satellite and IPTV, it is actually in the transition to terrestrial broadcasting platform which undoubtedly has brought the greatest benefits to society. This is especially true in countries where the size of the terrestrial platform is large and terrestrial TV is the fundamental mode of receiving TV services in most households.

Migration to the DTTB platform involves considerable costs especially broadcasters. However, these costs are more than offset by the significant advantages that TV broadcasters-digital delivered to all participants (content producers, service providers, content aggregation, developers, builders of receivers, etc.) throughout the chain.

A multi-platform environment and multi-channel as the DTTB provides unique opportunities for broadcasters of digital terrestrial TV to compete with pay TV operators and OTT delivery (On-The-Top) Internet.

In a market where pay-TV is growing, the DTTB platform can differentiate itself by strengthening the multi-channel proposition free-to-air (FTA), while improving the competitiveness between digital platforms.

DTTB can contribute to the digital strategy broadcasters and help ensure the long-term future of terrestrial TV, through:
- The multi-service delivery channel offered low cost to a wide audience
- Through the use of interactive standards (MHEG -Multimedia and Hypermedia Experts Group, -Multimedia Home Platform MHP, HbbTV - Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) digital broadcasters broadcasting capabilities reinforce and allow interactive solutions for users.
- The DTTB allows the introduction of HD and full HD service.
- Conditional access facilitates new business models (eg, the business of pay-tv hybrid.). Although almost all use of DTTB service is free-to-air, many technological solutions are able to support DTTB conditional access modules that can enable an environment free of mixed payment.
- The DTTB reduces entry barriers to new service providers. This allows more opportunities for delivering niche type services, regional and community.

All the above alternatives can contribute to an ecosystem of competitive and vibrant broadcasting, once the switchover completed, increasing the plurality and content selection.

On the other hand, standards broadcasting digital TV increase the capacity of transmission networks improve spectral efficiency. In an RF channel equivalent to service analog TV, DTTB normally allowed between 4 and 18 services, assuming bandwidth 8 MHz RF, and depending on the type of transmission standard adopted.

Another technical advantage of the DTTB is the quality of the signal increases the robustness against noise and interference. Interference with transmissions of TV-digital not generate the same type of visual distortion often experienced analog transmissions (eg., Ghosts). However, when the TV signal to digital drops below a power threshold the receiver is unable to decode the signal.

This obviously leads to reduced service area (brick effect). The replacement of analogue terrestrial transmission network for digital network DTTB results in a substantial reduction in power consumption. Energy savings will depend on network configuration and possible requirements to build a new site broadcasting or re-broadcasting to fill gaps in coverage.

Obsolescence of equipment analog broadcasting will produce higher maintenance costs and support costs for analog broadcasting. Migration to DTTB also benefits from lower maintenance costs of digital systems and better support from vendors.

The TV broadcasting to digital allows the implementation of single frequency networks (SFNs) instead of MFNs multi-frequency networks, usually used in analog TV.

SFN networks are more spectrally efficient than talking MFN networks, if the service area is large and equal size and shape, without overlapping.

In the MFN configuration, different transmitters use different channels to transport the same service and many frequency channels are necessary to cover the service area. In SFN, different transmitters use the same frequency channel to transmit the same programming and only one TV channel frequency is required to cover the service area.

As for the consumer benefits offered by the switchover to digital TV-they include:
- A range of much greater selection of programs and services (including additional channels offering HD digital radio, data services, payment programs)
- Much better quality -less likely to signal interference and problems occur with the quality of the image.
- Interactivity - offers a range of interactive applications (games, enhanced teletext), friendlier interfaces and better customization.
- Convenience -Video on demand / catch-up services that allow users to watch programs at the time you want.
- More control over what children see on TV through the parental lock setting.

In addition to all these benefits, the DTTB helps to bridge the digital divide by increasing access to information for those who do not have the Internet. DTTB sometimes supplemented by satellite, can potentially deliver a universal digital TV coverage.

DTTB platform has the potential to provide the user with a wide choice of services including e-mail, Internet access and access to government portals and other interactive services. Delivering e-government services effectively is another public service that DTTB offers those without broadband.

Finally, the DTTB allows much more efficient use of spectrum for broadcasting, freeing up valuable spectrum in the UHF band for other users (digital dividend).

In general, the migration to digital TV Broadcasting-Terrestrial offers a wide range of benefits. However, there are substantial costs and most of them are produced during the early stages of the switchover, particularly during deployment of the DTTB and simulcast phase. These costs do not fall on a single sector; rather they are distributed among the various participants (broadcast industry, consumers, government and regulatory) in different percentages.

* Carlos Pantsios Markhauser, is a Telecommunications Engineer and Master in Communications from Simón Bolivar University, majoring in telecommunications and satellite networks The George Washington University - School of Engineering & Applied Science, Specialization in Digital Telecommunications University of Colorado Boulder. Today he works as a professional consultant and project director Mediax TV, media people.

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