By Abolaji Fijabi
Nigeria’s start-stop journey to full digital broadcasting continues with the public not having an idea of when the process will be completed. About 10 months ago, there was some movement when the Federal Government rolled out the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Enugu and Osogbo in continuation of its efforts to ensure transition from analogue to Digital Terrestrial transmission across the country.
Reliable statistics from the DSO experience indicates that a total of 745, 480 STBs have been imported into the country. Of this figure, 566, 478 have been delivered, while 485, 409 have been sold. A total of 332, 095 STBs have been activated in Jos and Abuja.
Earlier in the year at a DSO Stakeholders’ Retreat in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Alhaji Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu, Director-General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), stated that preparations for the launch in the two states were close to completion, adding that the launch would hold before the end of the first quarter of the year. He equally stated that the Federal Government’s plan had the objective of concluding DSO roll-out in 12 states. Prior to then, the government had launched DSO in Kaduna, Ilorin, Jos and Abuja.
At the time, the NBC boss explained that a major impediment to the coverage of the states and territories where the DSO had been launched is topography.
“Coverage is related to topography. Take an example of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. 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,” Modibo-Kawu explained.
But this challenge is not encountered by customers of GOtv, the country’s leading Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) service. The service already operates on the digital platform and has been rolled out in about 50 cities across 26 states in the country. This was made possible by the fact that at launch, GOtv adopted the most modern digital video broadcast technology, DVB-T2, which is a considerable upgrade on the first generation and now discarded DVB-T systems deployed by the earliest adopters of digital broadcast technology. The early adoption of DVB-T2 by GOtv effectively puts Nigeria at the head of the queue of digital broadcast technology in Africa.
GOtv has equally been prominent in raising public awareness about the digital migration, most notably through the “Digilevelz Don Land, No Carry Last” campaign and hardware price slashes to broaden access to digital television. At N400, GOtv continues to give more Nigerians access to digital television at the most affordable rate.
DSO will occur when there is transition from analogue TV to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting. The process came to life in 2006 when member countries of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in Geneva, Switzerland, reached an agreement to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting by June 2015, the initial deadline. But Nigeria did not meet the deadline for a number of reasons. Missing the deadline, however, nudged the Federal Government into ramping up its efforts in that direction.
Digital migration is the transmission of digital television signal over the earth from masts to home receivers. When the switchover takes place, television viewers will require set-top-boxes (STB) or a digital television set in to receive television signal. An STB is often called a decoder.
By acquiring an STB compatible with DVB-T2, the second-generation broadcast technology, 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.
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 numerous benefits of digital broadcasting are greatly improved audio-visual quality and availability of bigger 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 deprecating in bad weather. Equally, the hardware (decoder and antenna) can be self-installed, making the use of an installer not absolutely necessary.
This is in addition to offering top class local and international channels broadcasting content such as news, movies, sports, documentaries, series, children entertainment and education for a maximum of N3, 200 on GOtv MAX. GOtv Lite, at N400 per month for 23 channels, still remains the cheapest DTT price offering on the landscape.