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The real victims of Mexico's potential digital switchover delay

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, October 28, 2015
The real victims of Mexico's potential digital switchover delay

The ongoing debate on whether to delay the analog blackout deadline in Mexico has revolved around how operators and competition would be hurt, but it has not focused on those most affected: the general public.

According to Gerardo Soria, president of Mexico's insitute for telecom studies IDET, the two biggest TV operators, Televisa and TV Azteca, are ready to work exclusively in digital, but could just as well work in analog.

However, about 16% of Mexicans are not ready for the switchover due to a lack of digital TV sets or decoders.

Taking Monterrey's case as an example, Soria says some 12mn Mexicans could lose TV come January 1. "If it happened in Monterrey, which has the highest GDP per capita, imagine what the rest of the country looks like in terms of digital preparedness," he told BNamericas.

"Operators do not have any particular interest in the signal being one or the other," Soria added.

This includes Cadena Tres, which has been mentioned as a potential casualty of delaying the December 31 deadline. According to Soria, Cadena Tres could start operating nationally, and viewers who receive a digital signal will be able to watch whether the analog signal is turned off or not.

"The people who are still relying on analog would not [tune in to Cadena Tres], but that would be the same for Cadena Tres if the blackout is carried out," he said.

The digital switchover has been widely discussed in the Mexican senate in recent weeks, with several senators suggesting to delay the deadline after nearly half a million people lost TV signal in Monterrey.

Mexico is seeking to use the so-called digital dividend spectrum (700MHz), which will be cleared of open TV and auctioned for mobile broadband, chiefly as a shared wholesale network.

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