Sentech to test alternative TV standards - TechCentral

Sentech to test alternative TV standards

State-owned broadcast signal distributor Sentech is establishing test transmission sites in order to pilot digital terrestrial television broadcasts based on Brazilian and Japanese standards.

In an exclusive interview with TechCentral, Sentech chairman Quraysh Patel says the two countries, whose terrestrial broadcasting standards are similar, have asked to set up test broadcasts at their cost.

Sentech has agreed to the requests, but will assign its own engineers to the test sites to ensure the tests are managed by the SA company.

The tests are likely to prove contentious given the high-level opposition from commercial broadcasters to government’s decision earlier this year to reconsider the country’s commitment, made in 2006, to the European standard.

M-Net and e.tv have both expressed displeasure with communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda’s support of a review of the standard chosen.

But Patel says it’s important for SA to consider all options. “As South Africans, we should keep our doors open and our minds open, but continue along the path [of deploying the European standard]until we are proved wrong, and so far we haven’t been proved wrong,” he says.

SA agreed to the European standard, known as digital video broadcasting terrestrial, or DVB-T, with the International Telecommunication Union in 2006.

But recent lobbying by the Japanese and Brazilians has led to a probe by Southern African Development Community countries into whether DVB-T is still the most appropriate choice.

Patel says a review is not a bad thing. “We have never had a proper discussion on standards in this country,” he says.

“In order to know we are right [in having chosen the European standard], I am suggesting … we keep an open mind. I want to see whether the assertions [the Japanese and Brazilians]have made are correct.”

He says the tests will not be used to draw parallels between the Japanese and Brazilians standards and the European standard. The only valid comparison that can be made is with DVB-T2, the evolution of the European standard, and there are no immediate plans to construct a test network using the more modern version of the technology.

Patel insists the planned tests by the Japanese and Brazilians will have no bearing on the country’s roll-out of digital terrestrial television transmitters that use DVB-T — at least not yet.

“We are not trying to do comparisons with DVB-T,” he says. “All they are trying to do is show us their standards work.”

He insists Sentech needs to be a “polite host” but says the foreign parties will not have free access to the company’s transmitters. “They are not going to go out and take control of a [broadcast]tower. We will set the parameters.”

If anything, SA still appears far from abandoning its commitment to the European standard, Patel says.

Nyanda has instructed Sentech to step up the pace of roll-out of the DVB-T network.

Sentech currently covers 33% of television households with a digital signal, and Nyanda wants it to reach 60% by March 2011. The company has approached national treasury for funds to expand the network.

The Japanese and Brazilians tests won’t prove conclusive, Patel says. “Ultimately, we are just a technology company. We can only make information available to government. If there is going to be a proper standards review done, Sentech would like to be involved because we will have test results that we can share.”

Patel says there has been no political pressure on Sentech to conduct the Brazilian and Japanese tests, insisting he took the decision of his own accord.

“I just want to be open and have the opportunity of talking to different people,” Patel says. “We are committed to DVB-T, it’s a cabinet decision, it’s in my budget, it’s in my business plan, and I want to achieve 60% coverage by March next year.”  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral

29 Comments

  1. Bob Stellington on

    Brazil is so desperate to sell their expensive standard to us. They made a terrible mistake by adopting isdb-t with modifications. Now, they need scale because it is so expensive, and they are doing everything to convince South Africa to save their mistake. Imagine how much more expensive it will be when having to make another adaptation for our 8 mhrz band. No to Frenkstein standard and yes to DVB-T/DVB-T2!

  2. ISDB-T 8MHz has not been adopted anywhere in the World! Why should South Africa be Brazilian lab-test playground? To burn tax payers money?

  3. BRAZIL IS PUSHING US A MODIFIED AND UNCOMPATIBLE STANDARD

    I feel there is a dirty game going on right now between Brazilian
    lobby group (Including Brazil´s government) and the south african
    government. To ignore the GEO 6 is just one sign of what the real
    intention is. Brazil needs urgently that other countries adopts its
    ISDB standard because of 2 reasons. One rason is scale, since that
    is the only way to put decoder´s and transmitters prices down:
    That´s why they´re crying and praying for South Africa to adopt
    ISDB, and by that, other countries will also follow south africa´s
    decision.
    In Japan, a digital tv tuner ISDB-T with MPEG 2, costs US$51,00.
    In Brazil, which has a “modified ISDB-T standard” (not compatible
    with Japan), using MPEG 4, the tuner costs R$ 349,00, which is
    US$200,00. Way too expensive for social benefits in South Africa,
    in my opinion. The second reason Brazil wants South Africa to adopt
    its standard is political. Brazilian government has plays the old left
    thinking politics, and they believe all poor and developing countries in the
    world should unite against the rich, and by that, they think that´s
    a way to protect local cultures from the rich countries, etc….My
    brazilian friend explained to me how ideology is driving Brazil to
    lobby around the world to change geo-politics, etc….President
    Lula is totaly anti-U.S. and anti-U.K. in all matters what-so-ever!

    Another interesting thing is that I noticed that in Brazil, only 2broadcasters supported ISDB-T, where here, acording to SADIBA,
    all the South African broadcasters support DVB-T/DVB-T2.

    Technicaly, both ISDB-T and DVB-T work well. DVB-T2 has proven
    higher performance than ISDB-T, having a much more spectrum
    efficiency because it is a newer standard and has a COFDM
    modulation in a CONSTELATION format. DVB-T2 was specialy designed
    for 8 mhz channels, which fits perfeclty in South Africa´s case.
    ISDB doesn´t have a single transmitter built for 8mhz channels at
    work anywhere in the world. South America and Japan are 6mhz
    channels. That is another big problem that can turn out ISDB extremely
    expensive for South Africa.

    DVB-T2 midleware MHP has the most advanced interactivity tools in
    the world with ZERO royalties which includes.
    A) T-GOVERNMENT
    B) TAXATION OFFICE
    C) POST OFFICE SERVICES
    D) E-BANKING SERVICES
    C) JOB VACANCIES

    Acording to http://www.sadiba.co.za, at the last 3 years, a lot of DVB-T
    trials have been done with many south african broadcasters, with no
    problems occuring during those trials. That´s why the NATURAL step
    to take, after so much work has been done, is to UPGRADE our DVB-T
    to DVB-T2 standard, which will obviously provide more capacity and
    high definition services inside a single chanell with higher
    performance, since DVB-T2 is the newest and most modern terrestrial
    dtv standard in the world. That is the smoother, less expensive,
    and most inteligent way to bring digital tv without having to wait,
    in the case of adopting ISDB, much longer, since we´ll have to
    build the “first ISDB transmitter for 8mhz chanell in the world
    and test it many times! DVB-T2 was specialy done for 8mhz, with
    tests alredy done by the U.K.! And the great news is that the DVB-
    T2 tuners in the U.K. are already cheaper than Brazil´s ISDB tuner.
    DVB-T2 tuners costs around US$45,00, compared to ISDB´s US$200,00
    in Brazil. That´s why I belive DVB-T/DVB-T2 is the best standard for
    South Africa.

  4. I pesonally dont think that its Brazil pushing us. I think its rather a few people in SA trying to force this standard onto us in order to get some kickbacks. The long and the short of it.

  5. Shaun - Cape Town on

    I think South Africa should rather stick to something that works, Brazil is clearly looking for a “Test Station”, (BUY CHEAP = LOSS)! – Cheers

  6. Oh great illusion, there are people who think that only Brazil is doing loby not think of Europe as well be doing, and we still glad for the trap that was GEO6. If they do the price per DTMB, happens to have something cheaper than the Chinese?

  7. I´m from Australia and I´m watching right now HDTV via DVB-T! I think South Africa is wasting time and money with the desperate Brazilian lobby! Come to Australia and see for yourself how good DVB-T is!

  8. I hope that my country (South Africa) adopts DVB-T with DVB-T2! They are both made to run on 8mhz band and need no adaptation. DVB-T2 is far better than any isdb-t variant.

  9. Sorry for double comment but I had typed my e-mail wrong.
    Felipe is my pseudonym just to show how unhappy was the comment above!

  10. Vivian no system fits perfectly in any band, the difference is just DVB starts it deployment in 8Mhz, ISDB start its at 6Mhz. But both have 6, 7 and 8Mhz fit mask.

  11. As a South African, I support DVB-T2 because it is the only “SECOND GENERATION STANDARD” IN THE WORLD”!

    DVB-T2 is more ROBUST, has more chanell capacity, offers HDTV, FREE MOBILE, including 3D TV!

    I think that SENTECH should also test DVB-T2!

  12. My friend that works at SABC told me that if it wasn´t for the agressive interference of the Brazilian lobby in our process, we could have watched the World Cup in HDTV via DVB-T, cause 40% of the structure is already in place. All major cities in South Africa have DVB-T trasmitters with H-264 ACC!

    Brazil and Doc are to blame for the mess they made! They (both of them) simply stalled the migration!

    My friend told me that everything was perfect, all DVB-T trials worked so well, he could just not understand how Brazil and the DOC had the courage of leaving South Africans without digital tv during the World Cup.

    I agree, after this mess, I will never support isdb-t for South Africa. Hard to forget this one….

  13. DVB-T2 is the only second generation for DVB group only with DVB-S2, on the tv systems side, all digital TVs is 4th generation system. may mobile tv be a 5th.

    1st – motor tv, uses a very narrower band and transmit monochrome resolution at peak of 60×60.

    2nd – chatode ray tube increased resolution and use more bandwidth, starts in UK using 8Mhz channel.

    3rd – color tv.

    4th – today digital television.

    May mobile tv be a 5th generation.
    On mobility we see DTMB, ISDB-T, DVB-H, perhaps DVB-NGH if finished.

  14. Do not broadcast in HDTV during the World Cup really was a disaster.
    Should transmit perhaps even in the old DVB least by the host cities, but the digital TV has been decided since 2006 and this time without any transmission shows a lack of interest from broadcasters. And a change in standard will not change this fact.

  15. WE BRASIL IS GOING TO WIN THIS GAME SO STOP THE DISCUSSION BECAUSE MY STANDARD IS SUPERIOR AND SOUTH AFRICA DON´T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT DIGITAL TV. BEND ON YOUR KNEES AND SAY THANKYOU BRASIL. GO ISDB / GO ISDB / GO ISDB / GO ISDB / GO ISDB / GO ISDB / GO ISDB !!!!!!
    MY PRESIDENT LULA SAY AFRICA IS OUR TERRITORY NOW! GO ISDB-T!!!!!!!!

  16. Isn’t Mr Patel the “non-executive” chairperson of the Sentech board? How is it that he makes executive decisions on tests to be done by foreign entities with clear and published commercial interests? Patel is clearly mistaken on a number of fronts:

    “Sentech has agreed to the requests (by Japan and Brazil to conduct ISDB-T trials), but will assign its own engineers to the test sites to ensure the tests are managed by the SA company.”

    What Patel is not saying is that he has pushed for the controversial trials to go ahead in opposition to the explicit and clear recommendation against this by Sentech’s engineering experts.
    Leading Radio Frequency engineers and management experts have since resigned and left Sentech. The remaining Sentech engineers have reportedly been forced to sign additional non-disclosure agreements, have been threatened with dismissal and have been instructed to go ahead with these ISDB-T trials – against their better judgment and recommendations on the matter.

    It is ridiculous to assume that objective engineering analysis of any tests could take place in such an environment. Any tests of a system and standard for possible consideration for broadcasting in South Africa cannot be held in secret and must be open to engineering experts and leading academics from across the country.

    It would seem that Patel is deliberately ignoring sound engineering advice from his own people and allowing foreign interests to abuse public assets at the expense of local broadcasters (Sentech’s clients) and the South African public.

    “We have never had a proper discussion on standards in this country…”

    Patel seems grossly ignorant of the facts. The very organisation he is currently heading started active discussions and debate on digital terrestrial broadcasting standards as far back as 1997. Sentech was indeed a founding member of SADIBA. With Sentech’s support SADIBA held many local- and regional conferences on the specific topic of digital terrestrial broadcasting standards. (Some of these workshops were actually held at the Sentech facilities in Honeydew, Johannesburg).
    Patel seems to also be ignorant of the many consultative processes on the standards topic that took place in addition to the many industry led discussions. These included the work and consultation by the Digital broadcasting Advisory Body in 2002, the work of the Digital Migration working group (DMWG) and that of the national preparatory work group that formulated and defined the national position going forward to the ITU regional radio conference in 2006. Numerous discussion and debates have also taken place within CRASA and SABA. A review of the consultative processes as well as industry discussions and debate on digital terrestrial television standards in Southern Africa is available at http://www.sadiba.co.za/PDFfiles/SADIBA_History_of_Standard_Development_in_SAv4.pdf

    “We are not trying to do comparisons with DVB-T,” he says. “All they are trying to do is show us their standards work.”

    There is little point is showing that an 8 MHz variant of the minority ISDB-T standard can, by using proprietary lab gear and prototype receive modules, be transmitted from a Sentech site.
    What South Africa needs is a proven system and solution that is widely deployed across the globe, for which the transmission equipment is available from multiple competing vendors and the receiver chipsets and STB are mass produced for a world-wide market by many manufacturers and can be acquired at the lowest possible cost to the consumer.
    Attempting to show that some prototype 8 MHz ISDB-T transmission can be radiated is a far cry away from having an approved standard with industrialised transmitter, chipset and receiver solutions.
    The Sentech ISDB-T tests will merely confirm that one can with prototype gear radiate a test signal of a 8 MHz standards variant of the ISDB-T minority system and standard that will not deliver any performance advantage over the adopted DVB-T system and standard but will result in perpetually higher STB and transmission equipment costs .

    “He says the tests will not be used to draw parallels between the Japanese and Brazilians standards and the European standard. The only valid comparison that can be made is with DVB-T2”

    DVB-T2 is a second generation digital terrestrial broadcast standard that will outperform both ISDB-T and (DVB-T) by leaps and bounds. DVB-T2 will deliver at least double the capacity available via ISDB-T (or DVB-T) and is already cheaper to deploy and acquire than ISDB-T 6 MHz. ISDB-T 8MHz, that is to be tested by Sentech, will be even more expensive and doesn’t even deliver any performance edge over the first generation DVB-T.

  17. Frank, the next time you post a comment, take it more carefully and see what you said: “DVB-T2 is a second generation digital terrestrial broadcast standard that will outperform both ISDB-T and (DVB-T) by leaps and bounds.”

    Let’s step by step then

    1st. DVB-T2 isn’t a second generation DTT it’s only for DVB group.
    2nd. DVB-T2, comparing in robustness aspect it doesn’t outperform ISDB-T.
    3rd. DVB-T2 only brings an additional throughput affecting mobility and coverage area.
    4th. I agreed with much of its text but is still to say that DVB-T2 is superior to the ISDB-T in all directions, which is false. I hope the next time be careful because you can put the credibility of the text and all of your time in the garbage.

  18. Anderson Linsky on

    I agree with Frank, and as a South African, it is clear that DVB-T2 IS SUPERIOR and should also be tested! It´s no use to test a prototype of isdb-t on 8 mhrz in a secret environment, without the industry and broadcaster´s participation! This is a mafia style thing that leads to a unilateral decision!

    DVB-T2 IS A SECOND GENERATION STANDARD THAT HAS BETTER PERFORMANCE THAN ISDB-T! (IT´S A FACT, SINCE IT´S A MUCH NEWER STANDARD!) DVB-T2 NEEDS NO ADAPTATION FOR 8 MHZ.

    WE SOUTH AFRICANS MUST TEST DVB-T2. WE DON´T NEED TO ASK THE BRAZILIAN LOBBY BECAUSE THEY SURE WILL NOT LIKE THE IDEA! OUR GOVERMENT MUST OPEN THE DOORS, AND DVB-T2 MUST PARTICIPATE!

    SAY NO TO CLOSED DOORS TEST OF ONLY ONE STANDARD!

    SAY YES TO OPEN DOORS TEST OF ALL STANDARDS, INCLUDING DVB-T2!

    SINCE WE ALREADY CHOSE DVB-T, WE ARE MORE THAN OBLIGATED TO INVITE DVB-T2 AND TEST IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY, SO DVB-T2 MUST BE ALSO TESTED!

  19. Newer standard doesn’t mean better performance in all matters.
    Of course! DVB-T2 must be tested but the ISDB-T test is sponsored by Japanese and Brazilians, and sure J&B(Japanese and Brazilian) don’t place DVB-T2 into account.
    The DVB consortia at few times ago doesn’t recommend the use of DVB-T2 in a country in deployment stage.
    But obviously should the government make tests with many relevant DTT systems like DVB-T2, DTMB, DMB-T/H, ISDB-T and others.

  20. 1st. DVB-T2 isn’t a second generation DTT.
    Yes it most surely is – and ISDB most surely in NOT. Only the new standard from China is even close to DVB-T2.

    2nd. DVB-T2, comparing in robustness aspect it doesn’t outperform ISDB-T.
    Yes it does – by a large factor.

    3rd. DVB-T2 only brings an additional throughput affecting mobility and coverage area.
    All standards have a trade-off between capacity and robustness/coverage – it a low of nature. But DVB-T2 is much closer to the Shannon limit and it is very much better than anything else terrestrial in difficult channels eg. 0dB echo and Rayleigh channels.

    4th. I agreed with much of its text but is still to say that DVB-T2 is superior to the ISDB-T in all directions, which is false. I hope the next time be careful because you can put the credibility of the text and all of your time in the garbage.

    Incomprehensible – does not make any sense.

    Lars 🙂

  21. ANDERSON AND FRANK

    FORGET DVB-T2! FORGET U.K.! IT´S TIME FOR THE POOR TO COME TOGETHER. LULA IS THE EXAMPLE MAN AND ZUMA RESPECT LULA AND NOW DILMA, THE NEW PRESIDENT OF BRASIL, WILL RULE IN AFRICA! START LEARNING PORTUGUESE BECAUSE NOW BRASIL RULES! GO ISDB-T! THANKS BEYER TO KEEP DEFENDING OUR INTERESTS. GINGA YES! BRICS YES! SENTECH TEST WILL BE VERY VERY SUCCESS AND THIS WILL BE OVER AND ISDB-T WILL BE THE STANDARD IN SOUTHY AFRICA!

    http://www.pcdob.org.br

  22. Fabio, the question is not Brazilian interests but the interests of South Africans, so will not need to learn Portuguese, but of course that you have to learn English. The fight between DVB vs ISDB is a sickness, but I prefer a certain differentiation of European standards that is cannibalizing the African culture, I have in my mind two patterns that I find interesting to adopt the ISDB or DTMB but of course without ignoring the technical virtues of others.
    What attracts me is mobile tv then I think both.

  23. Mr. Beyer and Fabio,

    We, South Africans are not going to learn portuguese because of your arrogant opinions. Both of you are cannibalizing the discussion, and we will not accept Brazilian imperialistic talk. You should be ashamed of putting a Brazilian comunist website to us. Please through that trash away and respect us. Many of us want DVB-T2, so please, RESPECT those opinions!

  24. Dennis, what my name has to do in history, are you sure?
    You need to read my comments more. What I actually advocate is the continuation of DVB-T deployment, and that any change in any standard will not advance implementation of digital television. I typed a lot about the ISDB precisely because they have arrogant people like Fabio, who want the DVB-T2 is only because it’s younger.

© 2009 – 2020 NewsCentral Media