23 November 2015

Zimbabwe: French Firm to Speed Up Digitisation

Zimbabwe Has Signed a Three-year deal with a France based satellite provider Eutelsat Communications to speed up the television digitisation process in the country. In a statement, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) said under the agreement, Zimbabwe will be provided with capacity to deliver 12 free-to-view-channels to 48 Digital Terrestrial Television transmitters.

The authority said it will enable Zimbabwean viewers to have a wider choice of television stations and programmes as well as improved picture quality. Zimbabwe is still using analogue television signal after missing the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) June 17 deadline to migrate to digital.

BAZ chief executive Obert Muganyura told our Bulawayo Bureau yesterday that the French satellite operator will provide optical fibre connectivity to the broadcasting transmitter sites. He said that the agreement will transform the country into a nationwide provider of digital broadcast services.

"With this Eutelsat partnership and our project partners, the stage is set for Zimbabwe to accelerate the transition from analogue to digital TV in order to deliver improved service to viewers nationwide," said Muganyura.

Eutelsat chief commercial and development officer Michel Azibert said the contract marked the company's first step to participate in Zimbabwe's digitisation process and would further expand its footprint in Africa.

"We are delighted to see Eutelsat 3B's increasing weight in the African landscape and to be part of this continent-wide movement to go digital," he said. Meanwhile, Muganyura said the first batch of the transmitters was being installed at five of the 48 transmission sites.

He said so far Kamativi and Kenmuar had been completed while Nyanga, Susamoya and Mutare were still work in progress. "We're expecting to conduct our first test of this new service sometime in December," said Muganyura. He added that the official launch was expected in the first quarter of 2016.

The project is managed by BAZ that is working with Transmedia which is the country's national signal carrier, ZBC and Huawei that are responsible for the sourcing of digital equipment, including set-top-boxes for users.

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