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Brazil Defends Custom ISDB-T Terrestrial DTV Standard

When Brazil adopted a DTV standard based on a modified version of Japan’s ISDB-T terrestrial DTV standard that uses MPEG-4 encoding and different channel bandwidths, to fit the Brazilian market, it seemed like an ideal technology choice. They got the benefits of the proven COFDM modulation method used in DVB-T and ISDB-T, the longer interleaver and improved impulse noise from ISDB-T, one-segment mobile services and the latest, most efficient, video encoding technology. Furthermore, equipment for the Brazilian standard would be made in Brazil, benefiting the local economy. It seemed like the perfect choice.

However, according to a recent article in The Inquirer, Brazil Defends Its Digital TV Choice, Roll-out “Brazilian ambassadors are coming out to defend” criticism against the standard, as other countries in the region decide on their own terrestrial DTV standards.

Brazil hasn’t been successful in getting other countries in the region to support the standard. In Brazil, there are complaints about the high cost of the set-top boxes and concern the DTV signal will leave “black holes” in some populated areas. The Inquirer quotes the Brazilian ambassador responded to the high cost criticism by saying that “the Japanese have offered the Chilean government to have ISDB-T set top boxes at a maximum price of 40 US greenbacks by 2009.”

The article details the reported shortcomings of the standard and results of polls that show the majority of the population supports the Brazilian ISDB-T standard. In Chile, ISDB-T got 52 percent of the preference vote compared to DVB-T and ATSC, which tied at 23 percent each. As The Inquirer notes, this is far from a popular vote; in the end it will be a political decision by the Chilean government.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.