Digital television

Conversations about the transition of television to a digital basis have been going on for about ten years. Experts predict the imminent demise of analog TV and the advent of the digital broadcasting era.

During this time, the digital format really became the main one in the sphere of satellite broadcasting, however, in the cable and in the air segment, despite all the forecasts, the positions of digital television are still extremely weak. The very transition to a new form opens new prospects for broadcasters.

In digital format, data transmission channels will become unified and multiservice. There will be an opportunity to carry out installation, storage and transmission of information without loss of quality.

When you create subscriber devices, you can use proven digital technology and so on. It is these opportunities, first formulated in the late 90’s, and allowed experts to predict the decline of analog television.

However, the introduction of innovations prevented the difficult situation in the market, consumers could not fully understand why they pay money, which is a myth in beautiful slogans, and what is true. Therefore, we will consider the main statements about the unconditional transition to a new technology.

In digital television, data channels are used more efficiently.

This statement is true. With digital coding, not one but 16 television programs are transmitted in one frequency channel. It is this phenomenon that is one of the main advantages of digital television. For telecom operators, this phenomenon is very important, it allows or significantly reduce the payment for the channels used or significantly increase the number of channels. Now people are watching television with the help of three paths – satellite, ether, cable. If we compare the cost of maintaining the equipment, then the highest among satellite operators, who spend considerable money on delivering the signal to the subscriber. But with digital methods, these expenses are significantly reduced, which reduces the cost of the service. Of course, the introduction of digital technologies at the hands of both operators and consumers. Today, DVB-S and MPEG-2 digital technologies in satellite broadcasting have been introduced all over the world. Today, the issue of implementing a new generation of formats – DVB-S2 and MPEG-4 – is on the agenda. For cable operators the situation is different, they do not spend significant funds on maintaining the communication channel, do not usually have a frequency deficit. If the operator wants to increase the number of channels, then he can simply use the new frequencies, so there is no noticeable gain from the introduction of digital technologies, besides, the cost of implementation is also quite high. That’s why cable operators are just starting to offer digital TV, paying tribute to both progress and fashion. The most difficult situation for broadcast operators, which have a shortage of frequency resources, and bear the high costs of maintaining equipment for broadcasting. Therefore, it is the broadcasters who are most interested in implementing the figure, which will reduce costs in key areas and increase the number of programs. But the introduction of a digital format in air broadcasting requires enormous expenses. The state estimates the transfer of the state network to a figure of 1.5 billion dollars, do not forget that the population will need to be equipped with digital decoders, which is estimated at 50 million pieces. Of course, the user does not really care what technology he uses and how many channels he receives in one frequency, but quality and price play an important role.

Digital TV can significantly increase the number of distributed programs.

This statement just continues the previous one, being one of the stimuli for introducing the figure. The statement is true, but how attractive is it to operators? Cable operators are much easier to modify their network and thereby increase the number of channels, rather than invest in expensive equipment and lose subscribers when moving to a new standard.But for broadcasters such a transition is very attractive, as it will significantly expand their capabilities. The increase in the number of channels may also interest subscribers, but this should be attributed to the inhabitants of remote areas. By the way, to a large extent this segment is already occupied by satellite operators, for example, “Tricolor”. So financing of the transition is unlikely to be realized at the expense of such subscribers.

With digital broadcasting, picture quality is noticeably better.

This statement is rather controversial, because the quality of the image is determined by the quality of the weakest link in the chain from signal generation to the TV receiver. For example, the cable from the decoder to the TV can significantly distort the image. And today there are not enough TVs that can show a really high-quality picture, so it’s no wonder that most people do not show a noticeable improvement. In good reception conditions, it is even difficult for an expert to distinguish the format of image transmission. But with the deterioration of conditions there is a difference – with analogue broadcasting there is snow, the sound starts to hiss, but in digital format the picture remains unchanged for some time, then it starts to break up into cubes and freeze. Whether such behavior is an advantage is a rhetorical question, since the presence in Russia of a large number of places with poor reception can in general nullify the advantages of the new format. Also it is necessary to consider and such parameter, as dynamics of the image. In analogue broadcasting, each frame carries full information about the picture, so a sharp change of plot does not lead to loss of information, but in digital broadcasting, complete information is only in the reference frames. In the rest of the time, just information about changes in the picture is transmitted, with increasing compression, information is transmitted less often. This leads to a noticeable loss of information in dynamic scenes, since the image does not have time to update. By the way, the transition to the figure for the US, which uses the NTSC standard in 1954, is especially critical, but even for this country-leader the transition period is constantly shifting. Europe is planning a transition to digital broadcasting no earlier than 2014.

Digital broadcasting will significantly reduce the energy consumption of terrestrial transmitters.

This statement is true, since the transmitter, using the same or less power, will be able to broadcast much more programs. This is beneficial for the state and for broadcasters, as the cost of maintaining equipment will be reduced, and the social package of programs can be significantly increased. However, for subscribers of other segments (satellite and cable) this phenomenon does not matter.

Digital broadcasting will improve the reception of air channels in urban development.

To work in urban conditions, considering the strong reflection of the signal from the houses, a DVB-T format is developed, for which this statement is true. However, experience has shown that in cities that have introduced digital terrestrial broadcasting, a reliable signal for stationary users can still not be obtained without external antennas or cable networks. But the possibility of receiving a television signal on mobile devices of motorists and travelers can really become a promising business.

Digital broadcasting implies interactivity.

Often when mentioning digital broadcasting, interactivity is mentioned, one is not so. In fact, the broadcast itself has nothing to do with interactivity and does not provide it. For the transmission of the digital television signal, IP networks, which are interactive initially, can indeed be used, this possibility can also be applied to programs. As a result, through the data transmission network, the headend equipment, the properties of terminal user devices, and interactivity is achieved. This phenomenon is of great interest to operators, as new services are emerging that attract potential subscribers.But for the majority of traditional operators such an option remains inaccessible, since for its implementation a significant reconstruction of the network is required. The experience of introducing interactivity showed that the required costs for the organization of services and their maintenance did not cause significant interest of users, therefore there are practically no incentives to introduce this service among traditional operators.

After switching to digital TV will be charged.

Simply switching to digital broadcasting does not have to be connected with coding, but for cable operators open broadcast does not have advantages, which is critical for paid channels. But when you enter a closed paid broadcast it turns out that almost all decoders have the ability to decode a digital signal. Naturally, it will be logical to implement paid systems already on a digital basis, then the transition to digital broadcasting will be a consequence of the introduction of pay-TV, and not its cause. And the broadcasters tried to form this myth. In the UK it was originally decided that the broadcast channels should be paid and competed with cable channels, but this approach completely discredited itself, the same situation arose in Italy and Spain. But the fact itself has confirmed even more in the minds of consumers the idea of ​​paying for digital broadcasting. This experience has led to the fact that broadcasters realized that the wide introduction of digital television is possible only with the provision of free packages at first. Strengthening the same concept of a new format in the market will provide an opportunity to introduce with time and paid packages.

The introduction of digital standards will put an end to the confusion with analog standards.

The whole era of analogue broadcasting was remembered by the leap of standards, it reached the point that almost every country had its own version of analogue television broadcasting. The specialists reasonably believed that with the introduction of digital broadcasting a single world standard would be created, which would allow unifying the equipment and exchanging programs. However, the reality turned out to be different, there was a division of technology within countries. For different transmission media, the corresponding standards were developed – for cable operators DVB-C, for satellite operators – DVB-S, for terrestrial DVB-T. Here is the use of different standards for terrestrial and cable broadcasting and was unjustified, leading to undesirable consequences in the development of terrestrial broadcasting. Initially, the terrestrial and cable environment are very close in characteristics, and the cable network was first created for retransmission of broadcasting. But the higher characteristics of the cable network, the absence of a number of characteristic interference with ether, led to the creation of a separate standard DVB-C, which differs significantly from DVB-T. For broadcasting, additional protection mechanisms are provided, and the capacity of its channel is only 17% less than in the cable. The payment for these 17% was the availability of a new standard, which resulted in the appearance of different demodulators for analog and cable broadcasting. The “beautiful” technical solution had a bad impact on the market as a whole, complicating the introduction of terrestrial digital broadcasting. And the cable operators themselves benefit from the use of the DVB-C decoder, since access control systems are usually provided, which is not available in DVB-T receivers. Therefore, more ethereal systems are introduced into modern TV sets.

Digital TV is just a picture of good quality.

In fact, digital television offers a number of new services for the consumer. First, the subscriber can choose the package and tariff plan for himself. Secondly, it simplifies its servicing (switching on, switching off, switching to another package). All this happens literally in a matter of seconds. Thirdly, the consumer receives high-quality stereo sound and even Dolby Digital. Fourthly, there is an EPG service that provides a TV program for any channel directly on the TV screen.The user can group channels according to his taste, block some of them from children’s access, you can change the language of the subtitles on the channels. In addition, do not forget about HDTV – high definition television, a new service, which is possible only in digital form. Today such a service is rapidly gaining popularity. The truth for HDTV will require an appropriate television receiver.

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