Ugandan switch to digital TV dogged with decoder confusion

Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has courted controversy with its new standardisation of set boxes to be used for the digital broadcasting switch.

The commission has approved DVBT2 technology as the standard, and it has gone ahead to direct that all companies use the decoders. This pits the commission with users who had previously bought DVBT1 as they prepared to switch to digital broadcasting.

According to East African Business Week, Mr. Patrick Mwesigwa, the Director of Technology and Licensing at UCC says that the decision to adopt the DVBT2 technology was taken by the East African partner states. Customers should therefore also purchase the approved decoders.

Mwesigwa confirmed that companies had been given a directive not to import the DVBT1 decoders and that UCC would make sure that there was total compliance.

He argued that the DVBT2 technology was able to host more digital signals and channels than the DVBT1. This means those with DVBT1 decoders will have to buy the new ones to conform to the standard set by the commission.

The same confusion was witnessed in Kenya, when importers brought it DVBT1 decoders, only for the government to track back and warn consumers from using the decoders.

Startimes one of the digital broadcasters, in July this year, started an offer to replace the outdated DVBT1 decoders in Kenya.

“In Addition, StarTimes has initiated an exercise to replace any Startimes DVB – T1 decoder bought before May 2012 with the new approved StarTimes DVB – T2 decoder at no extra cost. The customer will only be required to pay subscription thereby ensuring uninterrupted television service,” the company said in a statement.

DSTV, GoTV (also from Multichoice) and Startimes are companies that use the DVBT2 decoders and subscribers will not worry about being switched off in Uganda. There were reports by the East African Business Week that most companies were reducing prices on the old decoders in a bid to get rid of them.

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