Four years after the beginning of the project for the implementation of digital television signal in Cuba, the project already shows a significant progress.
Cuban authorities has told the press during a meeting at the Ministry of Communications, that at present, digital television (DTV) reception in Cuba reaches the 60 percent of the national territory, and population have more than one million of signal receivers, whether they be hybrid televisions or the so-called «boxes»
The Technical Director for the Radio Communications and Broadcasting Company in Cuba (RadioCuba) Carlos Arencibia recalled that the project for the deployment of digital television in Cuba began in 2012, and it’s currently at the end of the stage of simultaneity, in which DTV coexists with the analog signal.
The director explained that the reception capability of the DTV signal is in a neuralgic point, because DTV signal has been installed on the same infrastructure uses by analog signal, like the transmitter towers, the frequencies of the radio electrical space and the banks of transformers.
In some cases, he said, the height of digital transmitters is not the height desired, because digital transmitters are below the analog transmitters, limiting its scope, especially in the provinces of Villa Clara, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba. In these territories, he added, analog transmitters are very powerful and they cover a large area. The digital signal has been installed at the administrative cities in those provinces; but not in the surrounding municipalities.
However, Arencibia highlighted that at this stage of simultaneity, the concentration of the DTV reception has been ensured in the most populated areas in Cuba.
Thus, the RadioCuba representative said that the following action is the preparation of all conditions in the transmitting centers to make the digital signal the same as the analog signal, an objective which will progress as the financial situation in Cuba allows it.
This cycle of new actions for the development of the digital signal does not mean being near the so-called analog switch off, but going through this way with a new cluster of measures, said the Director for Technological Development of the Business Group of Informatics and Communications Amaurys López García.
Specialists assured that when the decision of «turning off» the analog signal in an area will be taken, it will be because they already have data on its feasibility.
The last population and housing census conducted in 2012, showed that there are 3.5 million of television sets in Cuba, two million of them with Cathode Ray Tube technology.
These latest equipment, also called CRT TVs (stands for Cathode Ray Tube), require a set-top box (STB) to receive DTV signal. Only hybrid TVs don’t require «the box» because hybrid TVs are capable to receive both signals.
The little more than a million of receiver equipment of digital signal in homes, compared with the figures for existing TV sets provided by the Census, give an idea of how far is the final analogue switch off, when the transmission would be only through digital technology.
Four Years of Hard Work
Carlos said that in the last four years 80 transmitters for digital television have been installed in Cuba. From this figure, 72 transmitters sent the signal in standard format, with eight TV channels and nine radio channels, while the other eight offer the service known as test channel in high definition or HD, available throughout Havana and the provinces of Artemisa, Matanzas, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus. This HD channel will air soon also in Santiago de Cuba, Arencibia assured.
Likewise, RadioCuba has done a hard work for removing zones of silence —areas where there are no radio-communication signals— in the last three years.
RadioCuba is also implementing transmission systems to create transmitter centers to ensure the presence of the digital signal in the satellite that provides at present TV services for the inaccessible areas Cuba.
In this regard, Amaurys López García explained that more than 300 people in communities from Granma, Guantánamo and Sancti Spíritus, as well as different schools, receive the TV signal via satellite. This demonstrates, though the number is small, the will of the Cuban Government to bring this service to all its citizens, no matter where they live.
Experts, questioned on the reception quality of the equipment that are now in the market for the use of the digital signal, explained that STBs have been tested many times, and many of the problems that some users have been faced up, are not related with the STB.
Thus, they showed that people buy very often antennas to individuals, which are not the appropriate antenna, because multiband antennas are required. «There have been cases in which the antenna has a single frequency. So, the TV has a good reception, but if tomorrow the transmission band changes, the user will not receive the service, » Arencibia said.
Experts also warned of the need for proper installation of the antenna, and if the antenna is placed outdoors, the antenna’s wire should be protected from the elements, because moisture and other weather effects are harmful for signal reception.
Commenting on the repair of set-top boxes that have some problems, López García considered this issue as complex, although they are working on solutions.
The current technology of integrated components makes repair difficult, because the cost would be almost the same that the equipment had when it was bought, he said. However, a group of engineers has identified some parts that can be repaired or replaced in the workshops.
During the meeting, executives emphasized that they will continue working to bring this television service throughout Cuba, which not only brings advantages in receiving the signal for the people, but it’s more efficient for the country.
Because, this technology can also save energy consumption, a saving estimated at one third of what is now required by analog TV.
Less energy is consumed when switching off the individual transmitters are that are used for analog signal, López García said. The same applies to the cooling systems in modern digital transmitters, which are more efficient and require less space, he added.
Translated by ESTI