Digital television to sweep away the old analogue TV

A new technological revolution is about to hit the world and change the lives of TV viewers

A Russian rocket launched an American satellite from the Baikonur space center on Wednesday. There seems to be nothing extraordinary about the event, for there is a countless number of such launches. The last one of them, though, was quite outstanding: the rocket launched the American AMS-12 (Worldsat-2) satellite – the first spacecraft, which was made with a view to develop the field of digital television. AMS-12 will become a part of an orbital group, which will provide a high-quality TV signal to the two Americas, Europe, Africa and Caribbean countries. Russia will have to take care of itself at this point.

Television can be probably referred to as one of the most significant inventions of the human civilization. Human beings spend several hours in front of TV sets every day. Television has become a major source of information and the best home entertainer for a lot of people. Modern science keeps a watchful eye on the growing technology. A new revolution is about to hit the world and change the lives of TV viewers – digital television. It is already being tested in the USA, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Japan, Australia and Russia.

The theory of digital television was developed in the 1930-1950s. The new technology has been becoming more and more commercially important lately. The USA decided to shut down analogue television by 2008, whereas modern TV makers aim all their efforts on the production of the new generation of TV sets capable of receiving the digital signal.

For the time being, it is hard for a regular TV viewer to picture the perspective or opportunities of the new technology. The situation can be compared to a cyclist standing in front of a fancy Mercedes car and comparing the quality. First and foremost, the number of TV channels will increase a lot. The frequency resource of conventional television has been virtually exhausted by now. A frequency line, which takes one regular TV channel, can actually be packed with up to 16 digital channels. The image quality will approve considerably: there will be no image interference at all. The image quality will not depend on the coding or signal compression. The picture will be perfect. The image quality will definitely affect the content of TV programs.

Digital television overturns the model of standard relations between television and a viewer. At present moment, TV programs break into television space without taking account of people's wishes. It will be possible to filter the information, save it on home media servers or external drives – a person will be able to cut everything that he or she does not want to watch: never-ending commercials, stupid and boring programs, etc.

Russia approved the “Concept for the introduction of the terrestrial digital transmission in the Russian Federation” in 1998. The program stipulates that all Russian TV transmitters and receivers will be using the digital broadcast by 2015. Russia became the fifth country in the world, where digital television was launched in a commercial mode. Such networks are already available in St.Petersburg (34 channels) and in Moscow, where the transmission of six channels involves mobile receivers.

Russia represents a huge market for a variety of digital TV equipment. The list includes not only TV sets, but also studio, transmitting equipment and telecommunication satellites. Russia will also have to choose one of the three types of transmission: the European DVB, the American ATSC and the Japanese ISDB. Each of the three competitors tries to present those systems at their best. In Europe, a digital television channel is perceived as a part of a joint intellectual complex that controls the entire system of electronics, including fax, Internet, radio, etc. The BBC has already tried to use such opportunities. The USA pays the first priority to the quality of transmission (the quality of signal is extremely high). Japan, in its turn, tries to combine best peculiarities of the two projects, although ISDB is closer to the flexible European DVB.

Two variants of the digital TV frequency are possible for Russia. The first one of them is the use of GSM frequencies in the 800 MHz range. The second variant is connected with the use of traditional decimetric channels. England chose a similar technique: English digital TV channels are situated between old analogue ones.

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Author`s name Olga Savka