Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lattelecom officially approved to do digital terrestrial TV

The Latvian government officially confirmed the results of a tender process granting Lattelecom the right to build out and operate digital terrestrial TV in Latvia. The government decision stipulates that Lattelecom must sign an agreement with the Latvian State Radio and Television Center to use the state-owned network of broadcast towers for implementing the digital conversion. The process must be finished by 2013 and deliver the digital signal to 99 % of the territory of Latvia.
Although Latvia started working on digital television in the early 2000s, the first project was beset by scandals and cancelled, with most of those involved presently on trial on various criminal fraud charges. While some government officials may have exceeded their authority and known of the concealed offshore involvement of Latvian businessmen in the aborted project, private sector actors maintain that they delivered all that was contracted for and therefore have committed no fraud.
The delays mean that Latvia will be among the last countries in Europe to implement digital TV. Most urban dwellers in Latvia view TV through cable networks and are unaffected by the analog-to-digital switch on the terrestrial broadcast network. The change will mainly affect remote rural areas and views unable to afford satellite dishes. This is seen as an audience with relatively low purchasing power.

1 comment:

Bleveland said...

Interesting and hopefully there will be some order in this mess from now on.

Already since some years there is (or was?) terrestrial digital TV (DVB-T)in Latvia, but this could only be received in limited parts of the country. I guess it is a test network transmitted from the Riga TV tower that was a left over from the first catastrophic attempt as mentioned earlier.

I took a Ls 15 DVB-T set top box from Sweden with me to Latvia and installed it at my in-laws place outside Jelgava. They don't demand anything else than the channels that can already can be received in the terrestrial analogue network. Since their analogue signal suffers from lots of disturbance I gave the digital signal a try and it works fine. Huge improvement in picture quality.

What I noticed last summer was that they (who, Baltkom?) started to offer program packages of various TV-channels on that particular DVB-T network. Since my receiver doesn't have a card reader I couldn't actually see those programs -only the free to air programs such as LNT, LTV7 etc-, the question is of course what is going to happen to that part of the network (or has it already been closed down).

Could you enlighten us a bit Juris?

This could end up with "a end good all good" story afterall since DVB-T networks in many need to prepaire for high definition (HD-TV) DVB-T that requires a different encoding scheme (MPEG4).

Most of the network equipment available today features this already, but in almost every country end users have set top boxes that are not prepared for this yet, so they can't see transmission in HD-TV. In time I guess all transmissions will be in HD-TV format, so many end users are actually really upset about it.
This could now be avoided in Latvia by distributing set-top boxes that already are prepared for MPEG4 and thus HDTV, but in fuck-up paradise number one -Latvia- this is maybe to much to hope for.