Rwanda misses digital migration deadline, blames procurement challenges

Rwanda missed the East African Community (EAC) December 31 deadline for migration to digital television due to challenges in procuring enough of the necessary decoders.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) set 2015 as the global deadline for the switch, though the EAC set its own earlier date. Of the five partner states, only Tanzania was successful in meeting the deadline.

The head of Communication and Media Regulation at Rwanda Utility Regulation Authority (RURA), Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, told The New Times that the failure to meet the deadline was due to decoder unavailability.

“We have already published the technical specifications of the decoders but what remains is to get investors who can import them,” said Mutabazi. The first tender for the supply of the crucial set-top boxes was opened last year.

Only Star Times and DSTV subscribers are currently able to access digital transmission as they do not need to migrate. Those accessing Rwanda TV will, however, need to buy decoders. There is no specific figure on how many households will need to purchase one, though the most recent figures from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda say approximately 144,000 households own televisions.

Mutabazi said set-top boxes cost between US$30 to US$40 each.

He added that the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency had already completed installation of the digital network, and that only upgrades were required.

“What remains is who can receive it,” he said. “People who access only the Rwanda TV channel are the ones who need the decoders which would help them receive digital signal and be transmitted to analogue TV sets for them to view pictures. Right now we need to put more effort in having the decoders on the market for people to buy.”

Posted in: Telecoms

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