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“The African Broadcasting Industry should adopt a unified system for successful digital switch-over”

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By Onome Amawhe

Giving the high cost of the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting, Khiran Keerodhur, CEO of Broadcasting Media Solutions operating from the Republic of Mauritius has called for a clear policy for countries in the African region to conduct a full technical survey and network design for the DTT migration, either by a professional company or an Integrator in the DTT Industry. Eventually, the survey report and the network design that determine the cost of the migration.

Khiran Keerodhur, CEO of Broadcasting Media Solution

 “I believe this approach will be the baseline in the migration process which will immeasurably help broadcast transmission companies define the DTT project in various phases in order to reduce the cost of the project and accelerate the migration process”, Mr. Keerodhur says in the wake of the just concluded 2018 edition of the NEXTV CEO Africa which was held in the Republic of Mauritius.

Africa’s journey to full digital broadcasting has been long and torturous. At technical and infrastructural environment level, digital switchover (DSO) came with teething challenges. At policy front, regulators are faced the challenge of buy-in from stakeholders.

He noted that though the continent may have dithered due to the obvious third world challenges , he expresses optimism that the region will finally cross over, knowing that opportunities exist, challenges also abound: “With some of the benefits anticipated in the digital broadcast migration in Africa ranging from an increase in the capacity of broadcast transmission networks, which means more data can be transmitted over the network , to the provision of quality HD images, more services and interactivity, reduction in power consumption of transmission which in return lowers operating costs; viewers will have more choice when watching DTT Television with more content while terrestrial broadcasters can also have freeto-view and pay TV platform to viewers”.

2017 was a critical year for Africa to meet the analogue switch-off deadline, and by following a Pan-African approach to technology, financing and content development – all citizens can be guaranteed of enjoying a digital life. Apart from clearer images, increased channels for content and easier reception, the availability of radio spectrum will allow expansion of the internetbased technology. All countries across the globe are required to make a complete switch from analogue transmission to digital following the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreement.

 A digital broadcasting plan, covering 116 countries (mainly in Africa and Europe), was agreed to for the frequency bands 174–230 MHz and 470–862 MHz at the ITU Regional Radio Communication Conference in Geneva in June 2006.

According to this plan also known as the GE06, the analogue switch-off date was June 17, 2015, except for some countries in some frequency bands where the deadline is 17 June 2020. In view of the 2020 deadline, Mr. Keerodhur also laments the little technical knowledge of broadcast transmission networks companies in the DTT migration process and the need for the adoption of the right business model to financially acquire the network.

On the standard for digital migration across the region, Mr. Keerodhur thinks Africa needs to adopt a unified system of technology for successful digital switch-over: “The current standard for digital migration differ country to country with each country having a task team that reviews the standards and take a decision that suits them best. Some countries already have the infrastructure but needs software changes while others need to do an entire network. In terms of technology, all countries have to respect the ITU regulations and policy”.

As part of the Group Sipromad, Madagascar’s leader in diversified industry, with operations in real-estate, finance, energy, tourism, aviation and technologies, Broadcasting Media Solutions (BMS) is an International Business Company which started its activities in the year 2014. Focusing on the continent’s digital migration. BMS partner with the Rohde & Schwarz for transmission solutions and other best pick and choose stakeholders to provide a turnkey solution.

As systems integrator for Digital Terrestrial Television, BMS works with broadcast transmission companies to assist them to lower the cost of the DTT Migration by optimising the network, providing robust world class equipment. BMS also focus on the value-added services by calculating the operating cost, recruit and train local engineers to install and operate the transmitters as well as provide services to increase viewership.

 As a major event sponsor, Group Sipromad participated in the NEXT TV CEO Africa (3rd Edition in Mauritius) through its subsidiary– Broadcasting Media Solutions

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