As the deadline for the global switch to digital broadcasting from analogue nears, Africa and the world at large are making final preparations.

In Uganda, despite the challenges that have hindered the process in the past, the country seems to be making commendable strides as the June 17, 2015 deadline looms.

While appearing before the Presidential Affairs Committee in Parliament earlier today (April 22, 2015), Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, the Minister for Information and National Guidance was adamant that Uganda was on the right track.

“It is true that on June 17, analog will be switched off in favor of Digital. The decision for digital migration was taken in 2006 and we are confident that we shall meet that target,” he said.

Market conditions for digital terrestrial television in Africa vary. Some countries (for example, Nigeria) have high penetration rates of terrestrial television, while others (for example, Tanzania and Cameroon) have low penetration.

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In large countries, where demand for terrestrial television is strong, digital switchover is a long and complex process. In such cases, it is important to involve stakeholders throughout the process, and to implement an information campaign promoting the availability of free-to-air digital terrestrial television. Ensuring that set-top boxes are available and affordable are also key factors in making sure that viewers are able to access the new services.

According to information from the ITU, the difficulty of the task may prevent some of these countries from meeting the 2015 deadline for analogue switch-off.

Digital switchover can be implemented relatively quickly when the terrestrial television platform has more limited coverage and market share.

“The challenge is not so much in the management of the simulcast period or the switchover process, but rather in ensuring that the new digital terrestrial television platform is competitive and attractive against the other pay-television platforms in the country,” reads a communication in part from the ITU.

The key success factor for digital terrestrial television in these cases is likely to be the richness of the content that the platform will offer, especially local content.

Moving from analogue to digital terrestrial television frees up scarce spectrum for other uses, especially mobile.

All regions are keen to achieve this digital switchover, and some countries have already managed to complete the process. The deadline of June 2015 set for the UHF band by the ITU Regional Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva in 2006 (RRC‑06) for the migration from analogue terrestrial television to digital terrestrial television applies to Africa, the Middle East and Europe, as well as to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In Asia-Pacific and in the Americas, national Administrations have worked together on a bilateral and multilateral basis to develop spectrum plans for digital terrestrial television.

In North America, much of Europe and some parts of Asia, analogue switch-off has now been completed. Most countries in Latin America and Asia-Pacific have plans to complete the transition between 2015 and 2020.

The RRC‑06 plan is based on frequency coordination for systems using the terrestrial digital video broadcasting (DVB‑T) standard, although other systems can be used. Around the world, several standards have been developed for digital terrestrial television. The principal ones are the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard developed in North America, Integrated Services Broadcasting — Terrestrial (ISDB‑T), developed in Japan and then adapted for use in Brazil and a number of other Latin American countries, and DVB‑T (and its successor, DVB‑T2). China also has its own standard called Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcast (DTMB).

The ITU will mark the 17 June digital switchover deadline by holding a Symposium at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to highlight the inherent advantages offered by digital terrestrial broadcasting.

  • Sam Agona

    I don’t think there is even a 1% chance that Uganda can migrate. The country needs 17 digital transmission centers to ensure nationwide coverage, only one has been installed. The multicast period has been on since second half of 2013 but only in greater Kampala; since then, no progress.

    The other 16 sites most likely do not even have equipment in house.

    If we did not manage to do this in 3- 4 years, am sure there is nothing we can do to beat a 17 June, 2015 deadline. Nothing completely, no hope.