New Era (Windhoek)

Southern Africa: Namibia On Track in Digital Migration

Swakopmund — Should broadcasters in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) fail to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting by 2015, the entire region could be isolated from global broadcasting.

The cut-off date for migration to digital broadcasting by all SADC member states is June 17, 2015. It is a requirement that all SADC broadcasters meet the migration deadline, which is set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) will receive N$411 million to finance the country's migration from analogue to digital broadcasting from the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT).

In view of this, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joel Kaapanda, called on representatives of SADC broadcasters to come up with recommendations to make sure that all countries in the region meet the migration deadline. Progressive recommendations will scale up the SADC region's preparations to meet the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) migration deadline and to successfully implement the switchover. The call was made during the 5th SADC Digital Broadcasting Migration Forum and Information Technology Communication System Centre Operations Manager (ITC SCOM) three-day meeting that is expected to conclude today.

Kaapanda said the SADC sub-region has set December 2013 as the date to meet the ITU global deadline for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting. "It is therefore critical that the SADC Digital Terrestrial Television Forum review our preparations and determine what is necessary for SADC to meet the deadline and thereby ensure that benefits of digital broadcasting are enjoyed by our citizens," Kaapanda added.

Kaapanda went on to say that SADC member states already in 2011 recommended that the region should create a DTT Forum, as well as an Implementation Steering Committee and a Regional DTT Special Desk to ensure implementation of DTT migration in the region. The steering committee is responsible for the co-ordination and monitoring of the implementation of the SADC roadmap and is expected to report back on progress made to the SADC Secretariat.

"Following the first meeting of the DTT Forum in Mozambique in 2012, extensive work has been done in various areas including, the development of a harmonised SADC digital dividend strategic plan, finalising specification for low-cost free to air decoders, as well as harmonising a digital dividend licensing framework," said the minister.

As far as the NBC is concerned it has developed an approach to transit to digital broadcasting and established a transition framework and a firm programme for a gradual analogue switch-off before the ITU deadline. "Namibia has adopted the Digital Video Broadcasting - Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB T2) technical standard for some two years now and has made significant strides in upgrading broadcasting infrastructure and also successfully launched a national DTT testing phase in December last year," Kaapanda said. He further said plans are well underway to guide Namibia's migration process toward meeting the SADC and international deadline.

"Namibia has further developed a policy on DTT migration that provides the required guidance in terms of a roadmap for digital broadcasting coverage and analogue switch-over," he said. The main focus of the forum is to review developments in telecommunications infrastructure. This will be done in terms of the SADC regional infrastructure development master plan and the SADC ITC vision foreseeing a digital SADC by 2027. The forum will also review the implementation of the SADC roadmap by SADC member states and address some of the challenges that are facing them in the implementation of the roadmap. The SADC forum meeting ends today.

Digital broadcasting involves the use of digital data rather than analogue waveforms to carry broadcasts over television channels or assigned radio frequency bands. It is becoming increasingly popular for television usage (especially satellite television), but is having a slower adoption rate for radio. Digital links, thanks to the use of data compression, generally have more efficient bandwidth usage than analogue links, which allows a content provider more room to provide services, or to provide a higher-quality signal than had been previously available.

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