WE HAD the pleasure of attending the 2007 edition of CAPER, the trade show of the TV industry down in Argentina. As the year ends without a formal decision by the government on a standard for its terrestrial digital TV transmissions, it's a good time to recap the tech advantages of this standard.
The recent launch of ISDB-T transmissions by Brazil, coupled with publicly expressed doubts in the Chilean camp about the European DVB standard, and finally the moving of Chile's standards selection from the original Dec 31th deadline to late-March are all reasons for hope for the Japanese in 2008. However, having the technological edge and a good "beach head" in Brazil is only half the story.
Eiji Roppongi from the ISDB promoting group and Pioneer's Osamu Yamada
The presentation was Caper 2007 which like most tech related conferences down in Argentina, are booked in the last two months of the year. This last-minute gasp by the different lobbying groups -North American, European and Japanese- was used to peddle for the last time each digital TV standard to the general public and the influential TV industry execs. The one by the ISDB-T camp was done by Osamu Yamada from Pioneer, introduced by Eiji Roppongi from the ARIB-DiBEG trade group, the association of digital broadcasters peddling the Japanese standard. The presentation was very detailed, yet sadly, lacked a multimedia punch and an engaging presenter.
Clearly, getting a dynamic presenter to introduce audiences to the advantages of ISDB-T is something that the Japanese camp will have to work on going forward, if it wants to convince the public not only on its tech advantages -plentiful as there are- but also that there's a compelling business case and consumer case to use it. The presentation in question began with the two presenters pressing the play button on a Media Player window in their notebook, and then sitting motionless, as one of them struggled to get the full screen video on the LCD projector. Hint: a stand-alone DVD always beats a PC-quality video, specially when scaled to a big screen. Finally the video was scrapped a few minutes after it had started, and hopefully they turned to the Powerpoint sideshow, citing "technical problems".
Caper 2007 was the last chance before the turn of the year to peddle the ISDB-T standard
Going to the facts, the Japanese highlighted that their research of digital transmission goes back to Teletex broadcasts in 1975, followed by FM multiplex broadcasting between 1985 and 1994, and ending with ISDB-S for satellite transmissions, the research of which took eight years, from 1992 to 2000. ISDB-S was the predecessor of ISDB-T which came to life after a long research between 1986 and 2002. Mr Yamada said that Japan started ISDB-T trials in December 2003, with 1-segment broadcasting in April 2006 and finally in October 2006 ISDB-T transmissions started in the main cities across the country. Japan is expected to shut down its analogue transmissions by July 2011.
The key of ISDB-T according to the presentation is the Band Segmented Transmission coupled with Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (BST-OFDM) and its time interleave, so that cross-talk between sub-channels is eliminated and inter-carrier guard bands are not required. The robustness of the ISDB-T transmission is highlighted by the fact that Japan is a mountainous country, and that ISDB-T implements interleaving and can re-arrange packets -just like TCP/IP, we noted. He stressed that "the others don't have it".
ISDB camp's sales projections. 2008 will be the year when ISDB could score big or lose big time in Latin America.
He said ISDB-T can also provide simultaneous data services and that an estimate 30 million digital broadcast receivers will have been sold by mid 2008, to be fuelled by the Beijing Olympic games and after that, the (soccer) World Cup. As we reported, most of South America has still not made a decision on the digital TV broadcast standard. Brazil was among the first, with its decision to adopt a derivative of the Japanese ISDB-T, with the addition of H.264 compression at the suggestion of the Brazilians, which the Japanese camp has agreed to incorporate into their standard, and market as "ISDB-T International" . µ
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