Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Analogue to Digital Television-are you ready?

A few days ago I received an email from my blog follower Mr. Amos Mponda from Tanzania about the change over from Analogue to digital transmission and reception.

Hello Mr Kimathi. I hope you are fine with your daily activities, am fine too. We have been announced by our government that December this year (2012) is the dead line for analogue system, we must enter to digital system, what can we do with our lovely analogue TVs,
Have a good day

On this article I am going to high light a little about what is expected from anyone out there who is still using his analogue TV.

First let me point out that this idea of migrating to digital television broadcasting is a global thing which started way back in the 2006 at a Regional Radio Conference in Geneva - Switzerland.

In this conference the member countries of International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U) agreed to migrate from analogue to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting technologies by 17th June 2015.

So what is the different between Analogue and Digital Tvs? Analogue and digital television differ in the way the information is carried from the source to the receiver.

 In simple terms, in analogue broadcasting the signal is in the form of a continuous wave, whereas in digital transmission the data is transmitted in form of discrete bits, the signal is encoded and compressed before being transmitted.

The ability to compress the signal in digital broadcasting is definitely an added advantage because this gives more room for more frequencies to be allotted for other uses. This was not possible in analogue transmission.

So what will happen when the Analogue transmission is switch off and digital transmission is switched on.

At that time if you will have not have bought a digital compliant TV (I mean Tv with inbuilt digital tuner) and assume you will be watching your favorite Tv program the TV screen will turn blank.

The obvious things to suspect will the antenna connector at the back of your TV and a quick check will reveal that the RF connector is home, and then you get out of the Room to check if the antenna has changed position but this too seems okay.

At this point you will have two choices with your analogue Tv, you either make it digital compliant or throw it away.

For those who would like to make their set Digital compliant, then you will need to invest on a gadget which will be able to receive these digital signals and convert them into analogue signal so that your TV can understand what is this all about.

This gadget is called Set-Top-Box (STB); this will enable you to receive the digital signal and therefore you don’t have to throw away your analogue TV.

When buying this gadget it is important to buy digital set top box that complies with transmission technology in your country.

Here in Kenya you have to buy the Set-Top-Box that complies with DVB-T2 transmission technology and MPEG 4 compression format.

Also you may decide to buy a Television which has inbuilt digital tuners commonly known as integrated digital television receivers or idTVs

If you are buying a TV you should be careful because some vendors are selling Analogue TVs telling customers they are idTVs.

To know if the set is digital compliant for example here in Kenya, one can conclude that if you walk into any shop and the vendor tells the TV is digital compliant.

Tell them to test for you and if you get any channel on that TV at the moment then it means that TV is not compliant because it is receiving the signal and bearing in mind that here in Kenya we have not yet switched to digital transmission them we can conclude that TV is not digital compliant. It doesn’t matter the size or model (LCD, PLASMA, LED) or whatever. You will still need a converter box to make it digital compliant.

Advantages of Digital Broadcasting compared to Analogue Broadcasting.

1. Much improved reception capability, including the elimination of ghosting/ snowy images.
2. High audio quality
3. A 16 x 9 aspect ratio, or screen shape. This is also known as widescreen. It is similar to the aspect ratio that is widely used in the cinema
4. Program enhancements on separate channels to the primary program, e.g., additional camera angles on a sports match, statistics about a player, or additional information about a segment in a lifestyle or magazine program.
5. Broadcasters will be allowed to broadcast more than one channel when certain events, such as sporting matches, extend beyond time due to circumstances beyond the broadcasters' control, and overlap a regularly scheduled news program. This will allow viewers the option of continuing to watch the end of the event or the news bulletin.
6. Over time, interactive television services and data casting services, including selected Internet services, home shopping, computer games, etc will be provided by broadcasters and data casters.

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