Mixed DTV Standards in Central and South America

Supporters of the ATSC, DVB-T and SBTVD-T (the Brazilian version of ISDB-T) all claim their terrestrial DTV system is best for the Americas. The U.S. ATSC standard is clearly the winner in North America as it is the standard for Canada, the United States and Mexico. In Central America, ATSC is the standard in Honduras and El Salvador, but recently Panama selected the European DVB-T standard, joining Columbia, Uruguay and French Guyana. SBTVD-T gained support in South America when Peru adopted the standard. Argentina adopted ATSC in 1998, but is re-evaluating that choice. Commercial DTV services in Argentina are currently using DVB-T. Venezuela has both DVB-T and DMB-T/H (the Chinese standard) trial broadcasts underway.

Many countries have yet to decide on a terrestrial DTV system, so it's too early to declare a "winner" in the terrestrial DTV standards battle in the Americas. While DVB-T and ATSC have the edge as established and well tested systems with low-cost receivers, more recent standards such as SBTVD-T and DMB-T/H are able to support new technologies without concern for receivers manufactured over a decade ago. Ecuador, for example, has successfully tested DVB-T, but is now investigating SBTVD-T and DMB-T/H. I wouldn't be surprised if more countries adopt the SBTVD-T standard and I'm somewhat surprised there hasn't been more interest in the DMB-T/H standard, which has a wide range of options for optimizing the modulation and error correction to the local propagation environment.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.