AS analogue transmission is officially switched off in Dar es Salaam effective today, service providers are working day and night to make sure other eight regions switch on to digital transmissions in the coming eight months.
The Deputy Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Mr January Makamba, said in a brief statement that already companies licensed to supply the decoders have assured the government on the adequacy of the devices, while arrangements are afoot for more to be imported to meet the growing demand.
"I wish to announce that preparations for the switch-off of analogue systems ready for digital technology come tomorrow are now finalized, according to agreements reached with all East African members' states and already eight regions have been connected to the new technology," he said.
The regions where the technology has been introduced, according to the Minister, include Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Tanga, Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Mbeya. Dar es Salaam analogue television transmitters will be switched off today (at mid-night); Dodoma and Tanga on January 31st, 2013; Mwanza February 28th, 2013; Kilimanjaro and Arusha 31st, March 2013 and Mbeya on April 30th, 2013.
However, the government notice reiterated that the programme for the switch-off of analogue transmitters will be executed only in areas that have the digital broadcasting equipment and that areas without digital infrastructure will not be switched-off.
People have been asked to buy decoders to be able to access the digital broadcasting aired through the phasing out analogue system and should not throw away their analogue TV sets. Already an influx of buyers has been reported in various outlets and dealers buying decoders trying to meet the deadline.
Digital Broadcasting milestones in Tanzania dates back in 2004 when the Regional Radio Communication Conference was held in Geneva to establish the technical basis to facilitate frequency spectrum planning and the form in which the requirements of administrations was to be submitted.
In 2005 the Converged Licensing Framework with accommodated Digital Broadcasting First Public Consultation Document on Digital Broadcasting Landscape was adopted. In 2006 Regional Radio Communication Conference was held in Geneva converted all the analogue assignment done to Digital assignment followed by signing of agreements and approved digital plan.
In the same year the National Planning and Assignment of Digital frequencies, second Public Consultation Document on Introduction of Multiplex Operators (Signal Distributors), as well as formation of the National Technical Committee-Digital Broadcasting to oversee the migration was established.
In 2007 a series of sensitization to Government and stakeholders were kicked off followed by the Cabinet Policy Document on digital migration and formation of National Steering Committee on Digital migration the following year.
In 2010 licences for three Multiplex Operators namely StarMedia (T) Ltd, Agape Associates Limited and Basic Transmissions Limited was granted followed by the enactment of new governing digital migration and the Electronic and Postal Communication Act the same year.
Last year, the public awareness campaign and logo on Digital Migration was Launched. Meanwhile, Issa Yusuf reports that Zanzibar declared on Saturday that it was unable to shift to the digital world by tomorrow as set by the East African Community (EAC).
"The deadline is on Monday, but we are not ready to abandon analog and shift to digital. There are some issues we have to address before the migration," Mr Said Ali Mbarouk, Minister for Information, Culture, Tourism and Sports said at a press conference.
The minister said instead, Zanzibar may be ready to shift to digital technology by February 28, 2013. "We need to launch digital signals and digital broadcast on January 8, next year before selling decoders to the people in all Zanzibar districts," Mbarouk said.
The minister said that the Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has been licensed to order decoders and sell to customers at the subsidized price of 50,000/- each. The price before subsidy is about 77,000/-.
He said the monthly subscription fee is 8,000/- and that Tv decoders sales shops would be opened in each district for easy purchase. The Rhode and Schwartz Company is to sell TV decoders (containing 36 channels) to Zanzibar.
'People should not panic, because it has been agreed by the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) that the migration from analog to digital be done gradually to avoid rushing. He said that for Zanzibaris who will not be able to buy the decoders, ZBC and Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) television will be free of charge for all people.