31 July 2014

Rwanda Switches Off Analogue Television

Rwanda is now the second country in sub-Saharan Africa to switch off its analogue television signal and migrate to digital broadcasting.

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) yesterday completed the migration process after switching off analogue transmission in the south-west and western regions of the country. The deadline had been set for July 31.

The switch-over is in line with the International Telecommunication Union which set June 17, 2015 as the global deadline for total migration.

Patrick Nyirishema, the director general of Rura, told journalists on Wednesday that they decided to carry out the migration in phases to give the decoder-distributing companies enough time to import the required set-up boxes.

The four-phase switch from analogue to digital transmission started in January this year and ended at mid night.

On January 31, Rura switched off analogue sets in Kigali, while those in the north-west and east were disconnected on March 31, and on May 31 respectively.

Rura says over 51,000 sets were without decorders by yesterday.

Figures from the 2010 national census, over 192,800 homes had television sets.

"Out of those, 141,260 (70 per cent of all people with TV sets) households had acquired decoders," the regulators said. This means that about 51,540 (27 per cent) do not have decoders and lost signal by stroke of midnight.

All people with TV sets were expected to have bought set top boxes, commonly known as decoders by end of today to enable the switchover to digital broadcasting.

Tele 10, Sorim, TransAfrica and Star Africa Media are the four companies licensed to import decoders.

Other countries in the region also look set to beat the deadline with Kenya and Uganda hoping to have fully migrated to digital transmission by the end of the year.

The regulators said digital broadcasting will improve the consumers' TV experience in terms of better sound and picture quality. It will also free up space in the frequency spectrum that can be used to provide more TV channels and other ICT services.

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