Costa Rica on Wednesday implemented the first stage of the analog blackout, taking place in a staggered manner, according to the Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones (MiCiTT) – Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications.

After years of planning, the first stage of Costa Rica’s switchover from analog to digital-terrestrial TV broadcasts began on August 14, 2019,with the second and final stage to be completed on August 14, 2020.

The transition to the digital signal will be concluded by today, August 15, in the initial stage. In addition, the analog signal will pass to digital for the reception of content between channels 2 and 69, although some are not active.

Luis Salazar, MiCiTT minister, explained that the change is made under the Japanese-Brazilian format ISDBT-Tb, and will be carried out in two stages. In the first, which took place on August 14, the analog blackout takes place in the areas covered by transmissions of telecommunications towers located in the Irazú Volcano National Park, home to almost 80% of the population, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) of Costa Rica.

By August 14, 2020 the second stage will be carried out in the so-called Region 2, which covers the rest of the country.

Costa Rica was scheduled to shut down analog signals permanently in December 2018 but this was postponed to this year.

Juan Luis Bermúdez Madriz, an official of the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social de Costa Rica (IMAS) – Mixed Institute of Social Assistance of Costa Rica, reported that almost 1,700 STBs were granted to families in poverty to migrate to DTT.

Bermudez said that initially some 13,000 families across the country would have support to implement the blackout, but only 9,000 of them would be covered in this first stage. The rest will be covered on August 14 of next year.

The digital television transition

The digital television transition, also called the digital switchover, the analog switch-off, or the analog shutdown, is the process, mainly begun in 2006 (for terrestrial broadcasting), in which older analog television broadcasting technology is converted to and replaced by digital television.

Conducted by individual nations on different schedules, this primarily involves the conversion of analog terrestrial television broadcasting infrastructure to digital terrestrial.

In Latin America, transitions to the digital switchover are in progress in:

  • Argentina: The analog network was to be terminated on 1 January 2019, but it was further postponed until 2021
  • Bolivia: In November 2019, the analog switch-off will take place in La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
  • Brazil: By November 2020, it is expected the ending of all analog television broadcasting.
  • Chile: The transition to digital started in 2012, and will be switched off in 2020.
  • Colombia: The government planned to close down analog broadcast on 31 December 2019, but it was postponed until 2021.
  • Cuba: Tests began in 2013 for the Chinese DMB-T standard, with new digital transmitters being rolled out and a shutoff date in 2021.
  • El Salvador: It will be completed by 2022.
  • Honduras: The switchover will be completed on 31 December 2019.
  • Panama: Since December 11, 2018, no analog TV sets may be sold. Switchover date to digital is Unknown.
  • Paraguay: The analog television system switch-off was to take place in 2020, but pushed it back to 2021.
  • Peru: Analog broadcasts are scheduled to be terminated on 3 January 2023.
  • Uruguay: Began broadcasting digital television in 2010. The analog switch-off was planned for 21 November 2015, but was postponed indefinitely.
  • Venezuela: Analog is set to be terminated in 2020.