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Border & Immigration

Tijuana Leaps Into Digital Broadcast, Leaving Some Behind

UPDATE: Tijuana has delayed phasing out analog signals until July 18, which is after the July 7 state election in Baja California. Read More.

On Tuesday, Tijuana became the first city in Latin America to completely transition from analog to digital broadcasting. The border city is the beginning of a national conversion, which would see Mexico go completely digital by Dec. 31, 2015.

Broadly, digital broadcasts allow a lot more information to be crammed into a signal, offering viewers a better picture and sound. But that is, of course, only if the viewer can receive the signal.

Many in Tijuana cannot. And with elections for a new governor and mayors coming, there is a growing crowd of voices demanding to return analog, at least temporarily.

As the U-T San Diego reports, it’s hard to tell how many households have lost their signals, but those most susceptible to loss of signal are “residents in some of the poorest neighborhoods who lack cable reception or digital televisions.”

Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Commission, or Cofetel, oversaw the delivery of more than 192,000 converter boxes across Tijuana. The commission claims that 93 percent of households now have access to digital broadcasts.

But critics claim the number of households without is much higher. Regardless, it will always take time to get everyone online. The question is just how long?

The United States made the full switch June 12, 2009. Nine days after the nationwide change, a reported 2.1 million homes were not ready. But by July, that number dropped to 1.7 million.

David Rehr, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, called the transition from analog to digital television the most significant advancement of television technology since color TV was introduced.

The digital broadcast transition is a further example of Mexico’s growth in economic and technological sectors. But the same question remains, is the country poised to advance together, or digitally divided.