The Government has officially announced December 13th as the date that the analogue signal will be turned off in Nairobi and its’ environs, commencing the first phase of the switch to digital television.
Under this phase, the areas of and around Nairobi County, Kiambu County, Ngong, Ongáta Rongai, Kitengela, Isinya, Kajiado, Athi River, Machakos and Thika will go live followed by Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret in phase two (30th March 2014) and the final phase for the rest of the regions by 30th June 2014.
Under this scheme according to the Government the country will receive more than 40 free to air (FTA) high definition channels due the expanded capacity. Digital Migration will help the country to utilize digital signals rather than the analogue waveforms to carry broadcast over assigned radio frequency. And with the Digital broadcasting, the Government expect at least 80% of the Kenyan population to be covered.
It is a simple fact that with Digital broadcasting, there would be more than enough spectrum and therefore more channels. The release of spectrum from the digital dividend will enable more services to be deployed.
An estimated 1.2 Million households have analogue television sets. More than 566,000 of these households in Nairobi and its environs currently have access to digital channels via the various modes of transmission, leaving slightly over 700,000 in need of migration to the digital platform before the switch-off deadline.
So for the normal guys out there, currently there exists three types of digital devices that can be used by consumers to receive the DVB-T2 digital signal according to DigitalKenya site:
1. DVB-T2, MPEG 4 compliant set top boxes to be used with existing analogue televisions. There are two types of set top boxes (free to air STBs and pay TV STBs).The use of these set top boxes is considered the cheapest and easiest method of migrating consumers with analogue TVs as this ensure they continue to use their existing TVs. Different models ofset top boxes are likely to be imported for sale in the country as a result of the recent waiver of import duty on STB and decision to make conditional access feature optional. This will translate into lower prices and increased availability of compliant STBs.
- Integrated digital TVs (idTVs) which are digital TVs with inbuilt DVB-T2 tuner. Such a receiver shall be used mainly for reception of the free to air digital signal. They are generally more expensive at the moment but are likely to be readily available in the local market in the near future. CCK is already type approving compliant models. idTVs do not require digital set top boxes or analogue TV
- DVB-T2 USB dongles which are digital receivers used by consumers to receive digital TV signal on their computer /laptops.
The Digital migration has been championed by the Pay Tv stations leaving out the free to air Media houses. The problem with that is that many people think that once you have the likes of Dstv you will always have access to the free to air channels after the migration, which is not the case. For example with the Dstv, once the monthly subscription is over then you can only access KBC and the free ads on channel 100. There is word out there that the likes of NMG, Standard Group and Citizen have refused to air the ads for the digital migration campaign. I wonder what the beef is, if not the feeling that they might lose out after the migration but that is a story for another day
For consumers ensure that you buy DVB-T2, MPEG4 compliant and not DVB-T1. For those who are planning to buy to buy a new set especially the ones they refer to as modern TV set (flat screen, LED, plasma, high Definition) , remember not all are digital ready. A digital ready TV for Kenya is one that has integrated DVB-T2 tuner and whose compression format is MPEG4