16 January 2013

Cameroon: Preparing for Switch-Over to Digital Broadcasting

Cameroonian households are expected to replace their analogue sets with flat-panel screens or get decoders.

Importation of analogue television sets has been banned in Cameroon. The measure took effect on January 1, 2013, according to a December 2012 Prime ministerial decree that also fixes July 2013 as deadline for the sale of such TV sets in all markets nationwide. As such, households are advised to acquire digital radio sets and flat-panel TV screens which will enable them enjoy digital broadcasting; a new technology that Cameroon, like other countries that met at the World Radio Conference in 2006 agreed to adopt by 2015.

The switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting, experts say, offers so many advantages to consumers and operators. The advantages stem from the fact that it is possible to process digital data in a more efficient manner than is the case for analogue signals.

Consumers will have a wider choice of programmes from a greater number of local and foreign channels and radio stations. Radio and television receivers will be acquired at lower cost as a result of greater number of manufacturers. As digital signals consume less space, they will free up additional frequencies and the available space will make it possible to reuse parts of radio frequency spectrum for new radio broadcasting services. These incorporate convergent services that combine features of mobile telephony, internet and terrestrial broadcasting. Sound and picture quality will be far better with pictures having "cinema" characteristics.

However, as digital broadcasting becomes popular, consumers will have to replace their analogue sets. Households are advised to buy flat-panel TV sets. It is worth noting that owning an analogue TV does not totally bar access to digital broadcasting for some of the sets available in the market have digital ports.

On the other hand, not all modern radio sets and flat-panel TV sets are digital. In a bid to sensitise Cameroonians on how to select their digital equipment and manage the digital switch-over process, the Deputy Coordinator of the Committee for the Migration from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting (Cam-DBS), Mezom Melouta, in a recent interview granted Cameroon Tribune, announced a nationwide sensitisation campaign.

Experts say digital broadcasting is an innovative service that represents a significant evolution in radio and television technology since the advent of colour television in the 1950s. Many countries are replacing analogue television to allow other uses of the television radio spectrum.

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