Kampala — Following the announcement by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to commence the digital migration using a phased approach, local pay television operators have embarked on measures to attract customers.
In an interview with the East African Business Week in Kampala last week, Hon. Nyombi Tembo, the State Minister for Information and Communications Technology said that because of the limited resources, the Ministry and UCC had decided to adopt a phased approach to digital migration.
He said, "Digital Migration is a works in progress... up to 2015, we will be doing it bit by bit not out of choice but because of budget constraints.
If we had all the resources we would have done it throughout the whole country but we shall begin with the Greater Kampala, a radius of about 150km and we believe that out of the 3 million TV sets in this country, close to 65% are in this area."
"So when we light up this area, we would have migrated 65% of all people in Uganda with TVs, of course those who will have bought the Set Top Boxes. But if you have an analogue TV and you haven't bought a Set Top Box or Decoder you will not be able to view the digital pictures," Nyombi Tembo added.
He however clarified that during this time, it will be a period of Simulcasting; broadcast of both digital and analogue feeds.
According to sources familiar with the progress of digital migration, the Greater Kampala will be switched off analogue broadcasting by the end of April 2013.
Uganda along with the East African counterparts failed to hit their earlier set target of December 31, 2012 for the switch. The global deadline for the switch from digital to analogue broadcasting is June 2015.
As a result, operators like StarTimes, DStv, Zuku TV among others have kicked off promotions aimed at attracting customers to purchased decoders to be used when the digital migration eventually takes off.
Multichoice Uganda, the distributors of DStv have in recent weeks launched campaigns aimed at attracting and retaining new customers with the latest being the $5,000 reward for staying connected to the digital TV channel.
StarTimes on the other hand has taken the plan a notch higher by not only reducing the prices of its DVBT2 decorder but by also introducing Solar to boost its presence in rural areas.
The pay TV operator has reduced its DVBT2 decoders to Ush70,000 ($27) from Ush80,000.
Simon Arineitwe, the StarTimes Country Sales Manager says that they reduced the prices of their decoders because they were exempted from withholding tax.
"We reduced the prices because we got a subsidy from government and also because on April 30, 2013 greater Kampala will be switched onto the digital signal. When we brought down our decoder prices we almost doubled our sales," he said.