The specifications were established ahead of the various licensed Ghanaian television channels migrating from analogue to digital as per the 2006 International Telecommunications Union (ITU) agreement.
“Initially the DTT service will be available in parallel with the existing analogue service (i.e. simulcast period). However, the analogue TV network will be switched off in phases starting from December 2014,” said Paarock Vanpercy, director general of the NCA.
The primary function of the set-top boxes is to convert digital input to analogue signals. The requirements of the specifications essentially result in a low cost, low maintenance unit to provide basic functionality for the free-to-air DTT receiver.
“The objective of the minimum specification is to ensure a DTT receiver which will provide good quality video and sound for the viewer and to ensure the lowest possible cost for the free-to-air receiver,” said Vanpercy.
The NCA will also protect consumers against sub-standard products by applying its mandate to certify terminal equipment of the public electronic communications network.
“In pursuance of this mandate, the Authority hereby requires that all digital terrestrial television receivers (set-top boxes and integrated digital television sets) sold on the Ghanaian market to conform to the minimum receiver specification...” said Vanpercy.
“To enforce this requirement, all STBS (set-top boxes) and integrated digital TV sets sold in Ghana shall pass a conformance test in order to obtain the ‘digital Ghana thumb’, which has been developed as a certification mark to help consumers and retailers through switchover in Ghana.”
The digital Ghana thumb logo was designed to indicate digital TV products and services have been tested and meet the country’s technical specifications. The NCA advises consumers to “look for the logo” before deciding on a purchase.