August 23, 2013

Viewers Rush for Digital Technology

Recently, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) switched off some television and radio signals linked to the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) mast in Kololo, during installations of digital broadcasting equipment.

The public widely interpreted the blackout that ensued as the ultimate digital switch and are since flocking Pay TV centers to buy set top boxes.

According to Engineer Jonas Buntulaki, UCC’s Director of Broadcasting, the switch off of all services providers connected to the Kololo mast was to facilitate uninterrupted installation of digital equipment.

Speaking to local media, Buntulaki said the migration process is ongoing and advised viewers to acquire the right gadgets to help with smooth transition.

Although UCC had projected to make the final switch by end of July or early August 2013, the complete switch is expected to be made by June 2015.

As per agreements by member countries to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Uganda adopted second generation Digital Video Broadcasting -Terrestrial 2 (DVB-T2) set top boxes as the standard for the digital switch.

This meant that viewers who had initially purchased the Digital Video Broadcasting -Terrestrial 1 (DVB-T1) set top boxes would need to upgrade to receive a clear signal. Luswata Yasin is already using a DVB – T2 set top box, but observes that many people are not informed of the switch.

StarTimes was recently dragged to court by the Uganda Consumer Protection Awareness Association (UCPAA) over claims that it was selling to customers the renounced DVB – T1 set top boxes.

Simon Aneiritwe Sales and marketing Manager at StarTimes informs that the DVB – T1 decoders had been stocked before UCC made a standard policy, adding that they are valid until 2015 and viewers who wanted the prescribed DVB-T2 have an alternative to exchange.

Arineitwe told local media in interview Wednesday that the viewers’ using StarTimes set top boxes will likely make the complete transition by June 15, 2014 ahead of government’s June 30, 2015.

While Tina Wamala, Public Relations and Communication Manager,  MultiChoice East Africa says they have been selling the recommended DVB-T2 set top boxes, currently going at 79,000 shillings with a monthly subscription of 18,000 Ush.

She says the DstV package ranges from 169,000 shillings to 269,000 shillings minus a monthly subscription and installation of the kit. The banquet carries signals of four local channels; Bukkedde, WBS, UBC and NTV. She says with the upgrade from analogue to digital more channels will be included in the banquet.

UCC has since prohibited importation of decoders compatible with first generation DVB-T1 as the country adopted the second generation technology DVB-T2.

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