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digitalAnalogue transmission will be completely switched off by July 31, according to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (Rura).  Rwanda postponed the initial deadline because of lack of digital broadcasting converters.

The fresh deadline is still ahead of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) transition time limit of 2015.  Rura justified the July target, citing the availability of Set Top Boxes (STBs) that will enable viewers access digital TV images.

This was revealed by Regis Gatarayiha, Rura director-general during a forum at town hall in Kigali dubbed “Digital migration roadmap and analogue switch off in Rwanda.”

“Initially, the scarcity of digital TV converters had hampered the migration process but with the commitment shown by the authorised vendors of STBs with regard to importation and shipping, we have decided to permanently switch over to digital broadcasting by the end of July,” said Regis Gatarayiha, Rura director-general.

The meeting brought together government officials, media, ICT enthusiasts, including authorised vendors of digital broadcasting converters such as Tele10 Group Ltd, Trans-African Container Transport Ltd, Sorim Ltd and Star Times.

He said the switch-off date will be preceded by intensive awareness campaign on radio, TV talk shows and social media to inform the public the benefits of digital TV broadcasting system and sensitise them to buy decoders.

“We can estimate that the number of STBs required for analogue switch-off to be around 80,000 because the 2011 survey made by the National Institute of Statistics showed that the number of households owning a TV set was at 144,192, Since many TV owners in Kigali are subscribers of Star Times (a Chinese-owned pay-per-view TV) we will start by switching off analogue transmitters in Kigali by end of January 2014” he said.

About 21,000 decoders have been shipped into the country and are already with authorised distributors.

The switch off of analogue transmitters will be done progressively in several areas across the country until July when it will be completely switched off across the country.

At the moment, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, the country’s sole signal distributor, transmits both analogue and digital content.

Source: New Times