By Olamiji Oyedele
Nigeria’s journey to full digital broadcasting will continue later this month when the Federal Government rolls out the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Enugu and Oshogbo as part of its efforts to ensure transition from analogue to Digital Terrestrial transmission nationwide.
Mr. Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu, Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), recently said at the DSO Stakeholders’ Retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, that preparations for the launch in the two states are close to completion and that the launch will hold before the end of the first quarter of the year, with a plan to ensure conclusion of DSO roll out in 12 states. The government had previously launched DSO in Jos, Abuja, Ilorin and Kaduna.
A major challenge to the coverage of the states and territories where the DSO had been launched, explained Modibbo-Kawu, is topography.
“Coverage is related to topography. Take an example of the Federal Capital Territory. It is a city of hills and undulating grounds. The signal distributor for Abuja has purchased feeder pillar transmitters, which will be installed for the entire Abuja and environs to be covered. The same thing applies in Plateau. The signal distributor has to put feeder pillar transmitter in places like Langtang for the entire state to be covered,” he said.
GOtv subscribers, however, are largely excluded from this challenge. The country’s premier Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform is already digital and has been rolled out in 44 cities in 26 States in Nigeria. Right from its launch, GOtv has used the latest generation digital video broadcast technology, which leapfrogs the outmoded T1-systems utilized by first movers in digital migration and puts Nigeria at the forefront of technology in the process on the African continent.
GOtv has equally been actively involved in raising awareness about the digital migration, notably through Digilevelz Don Land, No Carry Last” campaign and hardware price slashes to widen access to digital broadcasting.
DSO will occur when there is transition from analogue TV to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting.
It came about in 2006 when member countries of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in Geneva, Switzerland, signed an agreement to move from analogue to digital broadcasting by June 2015, the initial deadline for DSO. Nigeria, for a variety of reasons, failed to meet the deadline, the reason for which the Federal Government is intensifying efforts in that direction.
Digital migration entails the transmission of digital television signal over the earth from masts to home receivers. When DSO occurs, TV viewers will require set-top-boxes (STB) or use a digital TV in order to receive television services. An STB is what is often referred to as a decoder.
By acquiring a Set Top Box compatible with DVB-T2, the second generation broadcast technology (analogue uses the DVB-T or T-1 variety), with or without monthly subscription or by a digital television set, a television viewer will be able to receive signal when the DSO takes place, following the analogue switch off (ASO).
DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) is the standard for digital television that has been adopted in most countries in ITU Region 1, where Africa falls.
Among the benefits of digital broadcasting are higher audio-visual quality and availability of greater number of channels to viewers, including access to Free-to-Air at the expiration of subscription. That GOtv operates on the latest technology platform also prevents its signal from degenerating during adverse weather conditions (“rain fade”). In addition, the hardware lends itself to self-installation, removing the need to hire an installer if not absolutely necessary. It is equally pocket-friendly, offering a range of packages with top class local and international channels across news, movies, sports, documentaries, series, children entertainment and education among other genres for a maximum of N3, 800 on GOtv MAX.
*Oyedele, a broadcaster, is resident in Ado-Ekiti