To ensure that broadcasting services are protected from interference from neighboring countries and for improved services, Ghana will be migrating from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting by March 2016, according to the Ministry of Communications.
Migration from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting IS ALSO EXPECTED TO lead to the release of some valuable spectrum currently used for analogue television broadcasting for the provision of mobile broadband services.
Migration from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting simply refers to the process in which television services operating on analogue networks are transferred to digital-based transmission networks over a period of time in which at the end of the process, the analogue transmitters are switched off.
The good news is that when this migration takes place, one does not need to buy a new television set if one already has an analogue television. With an existing analogue TV set, one only needs to buy an approved Set Top Box that complies with Ghana's Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) receiver standard and has the 'Digital Ghana' conformance logo.
Since analogue TV sets cannot receive digital TV signal directly, an intermediary device popularly called Set-Top Boxes (STBs) or decoders can be installed to enable TV viewers to watch digital TV services on their current analogue TV sets.
A Set Top Box is a unit that receives the digital TV signal captured over the air by an antenna and decodes the digital signal into a will depend on how you would want to operate the TV Sets.
If a person has more than two television sets, it is possible to feed all sets from one set top box but, they will all show the same programme that this is selected. Due to this, for the television set to show different programmes, each television set needs to be connected to a separate Set Top Box.
In any case one has to ensure that, the set Top Box and Integrated Digital TV conforms to Ghana's Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Receiver standard, where conformance to Ghana's DTT standard is MEANS IDENTIFICATION marked by the digital Ghana logo affixed on the receiver.
Alternatively one can buy a Digital Television set which is able to receive digital signals directly from an antenna.
People are asking questions that include, what the migration from analogue to digital means; why the migration is happening, when the migration will take place, how it would affect the individual, why the need for the migration as well as if the migration has taken place anywhere in the world.
All these questions surely have answers that would put the average Ghanaian's mind to rest and prove to them that, the Digital Migration is surely a 'big deal' for Ghana to enable broadcasters to offer more programmes, services, improve quality as well as improve spectrum and energy efficiencies.
There is, therefore, no need for concern over discarding your one's analogue television when the migration takes place, once a Set Top Box is available to support it.
But has migrating from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting happened anywhere in the world, one may ask, and the answer is 'yes.' The United States of America, for example, completed digital migration in 2009 while most countries in Europe completed IT by 2012. A few African countries including Rwanda and Tanzania have also migrated from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting.
It has, however, come to the notice of the ministry of communications that most television sets entering the system these days are High Definition Television (HDTV), Standard Definition Television (SDTV) and Integrated Digital Television (IDTV).
High Definition Television (HDTV) is digital television format whose display resolution is higher than that of Standard Definition TV, offering high picture resolution and enhances sound quality while Standard Definition Television (SDTV) is a digital television format that provides lower resolution than HDTV and higher resolution than analogue TV.
Integrated Digital Television, on the other hand, is a television set which contains all the components necessary to receive and display digital transmission. It has an in-built digital TV tuner and thus does not require a digital set to box.
It is important to note that existing analogue Television stations will be transmitting in Standard Definition (SD). However, the Ghana Digital Terrestrial Television (DDT) Receiver standard makes it mandatory for all Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) sets to support High Definition. The set-top box may support only SD or both SD and HD.
Again, there are some television stations that operate terrestrial television and satellite dish and some of these are DSTV and Multi TV.
Terrestrial television is the television broadcast service where ground based television transmitters send out broadcast as radiowave which are picked up by an antenna whereas satellite television broadcasts over satellite and picked up by a satellite dish.
DSTV and Multi TV decoders are fed from satellite dishes and can only receive satellite transmission, hence the need for a UHF antenna and a DTT Set Top Box to receive the digital terrestrial TV transmission.
However, it is worthy of note, there will be combo set-top boxes that may support both satellite and terrestrial services, although a dish antenna and UHF antenna would have to be connected to the combo set top box.
In as much as awareness creation on the migration from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting is still on-going, the caution is that time between now and March 2016 is very limited, for, after the digital switchover, analogue transmitters will be switched off and analogue sets would be unable to receive television programmes without a set top box.
In other words, if a consumer is unable to acquire a set top box or an integrated digital TV, one cannot access TV programmes.
Digital migration is happening whether Ghana is ready for it or not. Ghana cannot to be left behind neither can the country afford to sit on the fence, but move in the direction that technology is taking the world.