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OK, we complain about no service here in the US, check this out from our British cousins who have had DTV longer and pay a tax to boot for the privilege! As you read the tech reasons for this, remember they use COFDM (also known as DVB-T) not 8VSB as we do.


Who has it worse now?


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Blackout shock for digital TV


by Jon Rees, Mail on Sunday



AMBITIOUS Government plans to turn Britain into a nation of digital TV watchers have been dealt a devastating blow by a new report that shows almost half of all households will be unable to receive the service.


The report, ordered by the Independent Television Commission watchdog and seen by Financial Mail, raises the possibility that millions of viewers could see their TV screens go blank when the current analogue signal is switched off in 2010.


The findings of the study will add to the gloom surrounding the future of digital terrestrial television (DTT) after the recent collapse of ITV Digital. Unlike satellite or cable TV, DTT can be received through existing aerials. But the report found that at best, only 58% of homes would be able to pick up a good signal.


Consultancy Logica, which carried out the research for the ITC, concluded that even to reach the 58% level, the number of channels available to viewers would have to fall and the cost of providing them could shoot up.


This level of reception is far below the 70% that ITV Digital felt was necessary to provide a viable service. The main reason for poor reception with DTT is that the signal is so weak it cannot reach sufficient homes. For technical reasons, there is no simple way to boost it.


Doubling the power of the signal would boost reception by only about 6%. This would also add £350,000 to the transmission costs of each multiplex - a key part of the system for delivering DTT to homes.


Increasing the power of the signal brings the added complication of international considerations. Boosting the power of signals on the south coast, for instance, could affect reception on the Continent.


And not all multiplexes transmit signals that are equally well received. Indeed, the three multiplexes up for grabs after the demise of ITV Digital have the poorest coverage. A process of 'equalisation' to bring all the signals in line would increase coverage by only about 6%.


Reducing the number of channels ought to allow more homes to receive a reasonable signal for the remaining channels. But even this is not proven.


Tall buildings and high trees can affect reception and, bizarrely, domestic electrical appliances can have a devastating effect on digital systems. Poor reception was one of the key reasons for the failure of ITV Digital. Carlton-chief Michael Green - his company is joint owner of ITV Digital - complained he had been sold a 'dud product' because of poor reception.


David Elstein, former chief executive of Channel 5, believes the report undermines the concept of DTT. He said: 'This makes a nonsense of the whole project. Loads of public money has been poured down the drain.' But a Government spokesman described the report as 'helpful' and said the plan to switch off the analogue signal by 2010 remains unchanged.





© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 09 June 2002
 

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I read this article and thought about the 8-vsb - COFDM debate also.


It appears COFDM was far from the problem-free solution it's proponents were trying to make it out to be.
 
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