Kenya’s government today announced December 13th as the date that the analogue signal will be turned off in Nairobi and its’ environs, commencing the first phase of the switch to digital television.
Under this phase, the areas of and around Nairobi County, Kiambu County, Ngong, Ongáta Rongai, Kitengela, Isinya, Kajiado, Athi River, Machakos and Thika will go live followed by Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret in phase two (30th March 2014) and the final phase for the rest of the regions by 30th June 2014.
“Under the scheme the country will receive more than 40 free to air (FTA) high-definition channels, thanks to expanded channel capacity. The digital platform will make it possible to accommodate more broadcast content, therefore widening the consumers’ choice of viewership. The switch to digital broadcasting will mean more vibrant television viewing as more channels become available on the platform”, Said Dr.Fred Matiang’i – ICT Secretary.
Digital broadcasting is expected to cover at least 80% of the Kenyan population, bringing access to digital television and marking the end of the analog transmission technology.
“The digital platform will not only create more TV choice for consumers but also free up vital capacity that will avail a variety of enhanced broadcasting applications, multimedia data and entertainment services, providing a more efficient use of the country’s broadcasting frequencies”, said Francis Wangusi – Director General, CCK.
An estimated 1.2 Million households have analogue television sets. More than 566,000 of these households in Nairobi and its environs currently have access to digital channels via the various modes of transmission, leaving slightly over 700,000 in need of migration to the digital platform before the switch-off deadline.
“In an effort to fast-track the migration process, the government has approved over 45 set-top box models for use in the country and eliminated duty on the same to encourage more Kenyans to purchase the gadget and access it more easily”, said Dr.Matiang’i
“Consumer education on the migration process is necessary to give information about the acquisition of the set top boxes. The phased approach to the switch off will give us sufficient time to pre-test the signal strength before the final national switch-off. By phasing out the process, the experience generated from the Nairobi switch off will inform decisions on how to switch the entire country to digital broadcasting”, added Mr. Wangusi.
The Country’s digital signal was launched in December 2009 and has since seen the regulator set an ambitious target for the country to fully migrate by June 30th 2014, ahead of the 17th July, 2015 global deadline- a universal undertaking set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Digital broadcasting carries more channels, which is hoped to give investors a window to acquire content provision licenses that have been limited under the current analogue regime due to unavailability of spectrum. The release of spectrum from the digital dividend will enable more services to be deployed.