DIGITAL MIGRATION: UCC Starts Final Count Down

Signal testing is currently underway as Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) moves to make the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting.

In a few days, Uganda will finally make the Switch from analogue to digital to meet a 2015 deadline that was agreed upon by members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

UCC ED Godfrey Mutabazi
UCC ED Godfrey Mutabazi

UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi confirmed on Wednesday that the digital signal is being tested at Kololo Transmission Summit, after the process of installing equipment winded last month.

Mutabazi said after satisfactory signal testing, the switch will happen by end of July or early August.

He also explained that Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) is the sole signal distributor, since it has ready infrastructure, even as the government reviews the Digital Migration Policy to allow other players.

The UCC ED was clear that no specific Pay TV service provider has been contracted to supply the set top boxes needed for transmission of the digital signal, but all players are free to enter the market as long as they provide ample services to customers.

The migration which was earlier set for December 2012 saw the cost of set-top boxes drop after the Government scrapped a 25 percent import duty on the boxes.

Although the tax waiver ran from June 2012 to June 2013, set top box vendors such as Star Times and Go TV argue that the uptake by the public does not reflect the urgency in the switch.

Simon Arineitwe, the Star Times Country Marketing Manager, says the public should be sensitized to acquire decoders before the deadline.

Arineitwe explains that the digital transmission will use two systems; the dish to home and digital terrestrial technology. In dish to home, a user needs a decoder with a dish which can access a signal from a transponder or satellite.

The digital terrestrial technology on the other hand uses transmitters which can pick different content signal from different countries and series.

According to Mutabazi, users are expected to enjoy a range of benefits including; clear sound and picture, and variety of content. It will also mean full utilization of frequencies, users in small frequency areas will be compacted while new entrants can use the space relieved on the spectrum.

Currently, 20 free to air TV channels in Uganda use 20 frequencies, with the switch all the 20 channels can be carried in a single frequency.

The five East African Community (EAC) member states had agreed to complete digital migration process by 31 December 2012, three years earlier than the 2015 ITU deadline.

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