What’s the Right Converter Box to Watch TV in Cuba

By Safie M. Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES – Just a few days ago, a friend told me that she was selling their “converter box” for an affordable price, so I decided to buy it, bearing in mind that they are no longer sold in stores.

Analog TV will eventually disappear in the country, it’s been in the works for some years now. I remember the outrage with the famous “converter boxes”.

People (those who could) went searching all over Havana for them, or even the entire country if they had to; with the fear that analog TV would end and they wouldn’t be able to watch TV anymore, one of the main sources of information and entertainment on the island.

Changing over from analog TV to digital terrestrial TV began worldwide in 1998, and it is expected that in 2020, 90% of TVs in the world will be set up to pick up this digital signal. This will also lead to a very large shortage of spare parts for analog TVs.

Logically, Cuba couldn’t remain behind and that was when the Government created a Technical Committee, made up of experts from corresponding bodies. This is how the famous “converter box” came to be.

The advantages were clear with this new “apparatus”. Starting off with better image quality, they also imply a great financial saving on technological equipment.

In the beginning, some converter boxes were sold on a trial basis to some families, for approximately 7 CUP (0.35 USD), which didn’t broadcast in HD, but converted the analog image into a digital one. They were soon sold at stores all over the country for different prices (in CUC=USD), although the only ones that are able to broadcast in HD cost 49.95 CUC (approximately 1248 CUP).

As you would expect, with average salaries under 700 CUP, many Cubans were left without a converter box. Others even thought that they wouldn’t need a converter box if they had a HD TV, bought in instalments or brought over from abroad, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are over 130 regulations, relating to digital TV in Cuba. In order to determine what is best for our country, political, economic and technological factors were taken into account and they opted for the Chinese DTMB model.

These words, which we can find on the official ECURED page, reveal that government interests took the foreground once again, and this wasn’t decided with the Cuban people’s best interests in mind.

As this isn’t the standard for TVs in the Americas, where the models for most TVs come from, people with low purchasing power are forced to buy these converter boxes.

Today, TVs with the DTMB model included are being sold, but it’s impossible to receive signals transmitted by most American countries. Why? It’s simple. They only want us to watch what they want and what’s in their interest.

2 thoughts on “What’s the Right Converter Box to Watch TV in Cuba

  • So, my question is: Can anyone tell me what is the correct converter box that I need to buy here in Miami to take to Cuba with the Samsung TV that I’m also taken to my family in Cuba?

  • I imagine that US sanctions are the major reason for the decision to use the Chinese standard rather than the US one. The US will certainly block the sale of encoding and transmission equipment to Cuba, but China is very willing to sell their technology.

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