San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Digital TV

Costa Rica sets roadmap for transition to digital TV

The government presented its plan Wednesday to complete the transition from analog to digital television over the next two years. All analog television transmissions in Costa Rica will cease on Dec. 15, 2017 to be replaced by digital TV broadcasts.

The Science, Technology and Telecommunications Ministry (MICITT) presented a roadmap with recommendations and technical specifications drafted by international agencies to adopt the new digital TV system, which for Costa Rica will use the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial  (ISDB-T) commonly known as the Brazilian-Japanese TV format.

Costa Rica selected the ISDB-T format in 2010, arguing that it can provide the best quality transmission and coverage for the country’s mountainous terrain.

A group of experts from the International Telecommunication Union and the Development Bank of Latin America were responsible for drafting the roadmap presented to President Luis Guillermo Solís in a special ceremony. Solís received the plan and said his administration is fully committed to the technological improvement of the country.

The analog shutdown and the transition to digital TV represent a challenge for more than half of the population that still receives analog TV broadcasts. According to MICITT, some 52 percent of the country’s households watch analog TV transmissions, while 48 percent have access to paid services such as cable or satellite TV.

Users of paid TV services are not required to take any action, as provider companies will be responsible for making all necessary adjustments.

Minister Marcelo Jenkins said all digital broadcasts will be open and free and added that the new system does not require users to get a paid TV service or change their TV set. However those who currently use aerial antennas or do not have a paid service will need to get a digital TV converter.

These devices are already available in local stores with prices ranging from ₡14,000 to ₡28,000 ($26-$52) according to MICITT. Some stores have also begun offering TVs configured for the ISDB-T system or ready for digital TV broadcasts.

Telecommunications Vice Minister Emilio Arias said officials will send a petition to the Finance Ministry to eliminate import taxes — currently at 14 percent — for digital converters.

President of the National Chamber of Radio and Television Saray Amador said she believes prices of digital equipment will significantly drop in the next two years. She also said all stations associated with the chamber this week launched an informative campaign about the transition to digital TV.

The government’s roadmap also proposes a program to identify poor families requiring assistance to get a converter in order to prevent their exclusion from the technological update. The Mixed Institute for Social Aid will be responsible for gathering information about households that need help purchasing one of these devices.

The main advantages of digital TV are improvements in quality of audio and video signals, in addition to allowing for interactive services from the stations and also options to watch broadcasts on smartphones.

Stores in Costa Rica began placing this logo on all TV sets that have an incorporated digital tuner.

Digital TV logo

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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