OPINION: Is Kenya’s digital switch on course?

OPINION: Is Kenya’s digital switch on course?

What will happen on June 17, 2015? This will be the last day for the switch off of the analogue television signals worldwide. In 2006, Kenya and other countries across the Globe signed a treaty agreement at the conclusion of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Regional Radio Communication Conference in Geneva, a treaty that signaled the development of all digital terrestrial broadcast services.

What this means is that every nation Kenya included, is expected to complete the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.Operation of analogue stations after the ITU deadline will have the danger of causing interference to digital stations within the country or in the neighboring countries while going contrary to provisions of the agreement and ITU Radio Regulations which control international use of frequencies.

The Ministry of Information and Communication in Kenya, Digital Kenya Secretariat and the Communications Authority have initiated spirited efforts aimed at beating the 2015 deadline with the country, so far making significant headway towards making access to digital television a reality.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court to call on all major stakeholders in the migration process to dialogue and arrive at a convenient date is a positive one as this will see all parties agree and hopefully arrive at an agreeable date clearing the way for a smooth transition process. This and the resumption of the local free to air channels on the digital platform will further encourage more Kenyans to embrace the technology by guaranteeing access of the content in digital quality.

Consumer awareness on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting has also been raised and more Kenyans today are aware that come the analogue switch off, they will require a type approved set top box to continue accessing television. True, further consumer education is necessary to clear any misconceptions and increasingly drive the key benefits that will accrue as a result of this transition.

Signal distribution is a significant factor for the country to successfully transit,it is commendable that the licensed signal providers Pan Africa Networks Group (PANG) and Signet have covered up to 70% of the country on the digital terrestrial technology with key set top box players being StarTimes, GOtv and other independent brands. Kenyans have an option to migrate using satellite technology which has covered 100% of the country and dominated by StarSat (StarTimes satellite service), DStv and Zuku thereby guaranteeing access to digital television for every Kenyan.


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