African Digital Migration: a tough and expensive but necessary move

Technology & Convergence
A recent event has highlighted that migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting by 2015 as set by ITU will not be easy for East African countries. Officials from the East African Community partner states say there are many challenges ahead, especially in meeting certain conditions set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Burundi, for instance, is yet to start the migration. The other four states — Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania — have made significant strides.The International Telecommunications Union wants all countries to have migrated to digital broadcasting by 2015. Some countries, particularly in Africa, want a five-year extension for the VHF band (174-230 MHz).However, experts have again highlighted benefits of switching to digital.Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Information and Communication, says the switch to digital will create new distribution networks and expand the region’s potential for wireless innovation and services. “The digital dividend accruing from efficiencies in spectrum usage will allow more channels to be carried across fewer airwaves, leading to greater convergence of services,” he said. Technical experts say the migration will support mobile reception of video, Internet and multimedia data.This will make applications, services and information accessible and usable anywhere, any time. Digital broadcasts will also open the door to new innovations such as handheld mobile TV broadcast (DVB-H), along with high-definition television (HDTV).It will also provide greater bandwidth to existing mobile, fixed and radio navigation services. A few days ago in Angola, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José da Rocha, said in Luanda that the transition of the analogical television to the digital one will allow a major interaction between content producers and viewers. Officials said that regulators from EAC partner states, under the umbrella East African Communication Organisation, have agreed that the local deadline for digital migration should be set at 2012.