Panama Selects DVB-T Digital TV Standard

In breaking with decisions by some other Latin American nations, Panama has officially adopted the DVB-T standard for that country’s terrestrial digital television service. President of the Republic Martin Torrijos Espino signed a national executive decree on May 12 to set the wheels in motion for DTB-T transmissions.

“This decision demonstrated that Panama wants to join the wider broadcast community in the world, whilst maintaining flexibility and the ability to optimize broadcasting options for Panama,” said Manuel Troitiño, president of a national committee created to analyze and test competing DTV transmission systems for possible adoption in Panama. “DVB is superior to other standards in this respect.”

Troitiño said that Panama’s National Public Services Authority is under mandate to begin migration to DVB in less than 18 months.”

Shortly before the decision to adopt DVB-T in Panama, El Salvador announced that it would be broadcasting digitally in the U.S. ATSC standard. The split among Latin American nations appears to follow the adoption of different analog color transmission systems decades ago. Brazil has elected to go with ISDB-T for its DTV rollout, modifying that standard slightly by moving from MPEG-2 to H.264 compression and renaming it SBTVD-T (Sistema Brasileiro de Television Digital-Terrestre). Chile and Venezuela are also considering ISDB-T-based systems, while Uruguay has already made a DVB variant its official standard. Peru recently named ISDB-T as its DTV broadcasting platform. In addition to the recent El Salvador decision to use ATSC, the North American standard has also been officially adopted by Mexico and Honduras. Television stations operating in ATSC are reported on the air in Costa Rica and Guatemala, but those countries have not given it an official nod just yet.