Malawi sets 2013 for complete Digital Migration

GOVERNMENT

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Malawi sets 2013 for complete Digital Migration

By Gregory Gondwe, Lilongwe, Malawi

Malawi has set 2013 as the year it will completely switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, according to the Ministry of Information and Civic Education, which is overseeing the process.

According to a report the ministry presented to parliament recently, Government has already engaged a Consultant, LS Telecom of South Africa, to spearhead the process.

The consultant is expected to recommend on the type of transmission network to be implemented in each area, taking into account cost of implementation, performance, and topography.

The report also says the consultant is expected to produce a map showing optimal operating parameters which will include transmission power, antenna height, indoor or outdoor receiving antenna.
 
LS Telecom will also make recommendation on what equipment will be replaced on the current analogue transmission network and advice on cost efficient infrastructure equipment to ensure quality multiplexing, distribution, and transmission of Digital TV and Radio Signals.
 
The consultant will also produce a statement of requirements with design and equipment specifications and costing.
 
The ministry says it is running the process in line with guidelines from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The report explains that in 2000 the ITU agreed that all countries should migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Considering that Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of audio and video by digital signals, in contrast to the analogue signals used by analogue TV which has standards of NTSC, PAL, SECAM, Malawi was at first scrutinizing the four standards of Digital TV that it could settle for.

The four standards are Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), adopted by the USA, Canada, Mexico and South Korea; Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial (ISDB-T), adopted by Japan and DMB-T/H, adopted by China Malawi  

Malawi has agreed to follow is the Digital Video Broadcast Terrestrial (DVB-T), adopted by countries in Europe, Asia and Africa that have already decided which digital television standard they will use.
Information ministry technicians, who have been lobbying parliament to support the switch through the allocation of resources, presented a case before the members of parliament aimed at convincing them on the need to make the switch.

Added efficiency

The government technicians say digital technology has extended to the provision of broadcasting services primarily due to the spectrum efficiency and flexibility of the technology.

“The digital technology allows programmes to be compressed in such a way that where only one programme could be transmitted on a single analogue frequency, several programmes can be transmitted with the digital technology,” explain the technicians.

This, they say, leads to additional programme capacity that would otherwise require additional spectrum with the analogue technology.

Another reason why the switch is important is because digital technology allows for a better and more uniform picture quality to be received throughout the coverage area whereas with the analogue technology the picture quality progressively degrades the further one is from the transmitter.

“Interactive services are also supported by the digital technology, allowing other information to be made available to the viewer, for example, weather forecasts, emergency information, electronic shopping, games, electronic newspapers, including internet access,” the technicians explain.

They also told the Malawi parliament that the planning of frequency bands by countries on a regional basis has generally been applied within the ITU to allow for the coordination of frequencies between countries to avoid interference between the broadcasting services of different countries.

“This allows for efficient utilisation of the limited frequency spectrum resources,” they said adding that this approach, known as apriori planning, enables countries to preserve their right to equitable access to frequencies and satellite orbits, irrespective of when those frequencies or orbits are going to be used by the respective country.

SADC agreement

The ministry technocrats add that Malawi is bound by the Geneva agreement, GE-06, which was signed in 2006 by countries in ITU Region 1, which includes SADC countries like Malawi.
 
The agreement provides the frequencies that are to be used by each country for digital broadcasting as well as the technical planning parameters that were used for the development of the plan (DVB-T based).
 
It also provides the conditions under which those frequencies are to be used as well as the timeframe for migration from the current analogue television broadcasting technology to digital television broadcasting technology on 17 June 2015.

Malawi, as is the case with all other SADC member states, has agreed on DBV-T2 standard and on an earlier date of 31 December, 2013 for switch-over, to allow for time to resolve any challenges that may be encountered by the switchover.
 
Running the process

Malawi started the Digital migration process in 2009 with digital migration training for operators likely to be affected by the migration process.
The government has finished developing a digital migration strategy which will guide the country on how to implement the whole program.
It has also finished developing a Communications Strategy for the migration process which will ensure that the nation is informed and made aware of the whole migration process.
In order to achieve all this Malawi put in place a steering committee, and sub-committees that were charged with establishing Policy, Legal, Technical, Content and Economical issues regarding the migration process.
 
The policy Sub-committee which is chaired by the Ministry of Information and Civic Education (MoICE) was charged with duties to review these issues of Public Broadcasting; free To Air (FTA) and subscription broadcasting services; signal Distribution Issues; dual Illumination period as well as set-top box subsidies.

It was also supposed to look at the implications of digital broadcasting on existing policies and legislation

The legal Sub-committee, which is chaired by Ministry of Justice, is was mandated to look at all legal and regulatory issues leading to effective migration. These include broadcasting rights and copyright issues.

On the other hand the technical sub-committee by state owned broadcaster, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was mandated to look at all technical issues in respect of frequency planning and the development of relevant technical standards for the broadcasting services.

These included multiplexing; dual Illumination transmission; standards of decoders; resource sharing between broadcasters; collaborations with other stakeholder  like Communication Regulators' Association of Southern Africa (CRASA).  

The content sub-committee, chaired by privately-owned radio station, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), was mandated to consider issues of increasing local content; funding mechanisms for the development of content; to educate consumers on what to buy and avoid and inform the public on the availability of set top boxes.

It was also charged with responsibility of providing information to the public on dual illumination period as well as informing the public on the available digital signals.
The economic sub-committee, chaired by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, is mandated to look at all economic issues mainly impacting the viewers in respect of the migration process.

Set top box funding

The report to parliament also states that the issue of making the Set Top Box (STB) affordable has been discussed at length, with proposed subsidization of the STB/duty waiver as one method of encouraging the uptake of digital broadcasting services. 

Ministry of Information technicians approached parliament over the funding issue, which is threatening the success of the Digital Migration Project. It is currently being funded by Malawi Government only.

In the 2010/11Financial year, there was a provision of MK190 Million in the budget, however only MK20 was released.
 
In the current financial year there is a provision of MK205 Million.

The report says this is insufficient, considering that it is expected to pay the consultant developing the migration plan as well as start procuring the required equipment.

The Ministry had requested MK1.2 Billion for the Digital Migration Project, but failed to secure the required budget.



Faneil Mahatta - Sept. 29, 2012, 5:34 p.m.

Very informative website keep up faneil

Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS

ICT ‘holds hope for Africa’

Minister Omobola Johnson says the ICT industry holds hope of a better future for the African continent.  Read More

DRC brings in ICTs to combat deforestation, timber theft

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has one of the biggest rainforests in the world, but lack of resources and expertise and political will, and corruption are the primary obstacles to fight the illegal exploitation of these rainforests by foreign companies and unscrupulous local businessmen. Read More

CAK approves thin SIM technology

Communications Authority of Kenya has licensed three Application Service Providers to offer Mobile Virtual Networks Operators services. Read More

Uganda installs floods surveillance system in Mt. Elgon

Uganda has installed a Floods Early Warning System to mitigate the floods and landslides which have claimed scores of lives in the Eastern region, particularly in areas bordering Mount Elgon.  Read More

SAP innovation transforms how Governments conduct business

SAP Africa kicked off its public sector innovation roadshow in Johannesburg, to highlight how the SAP innovation solutions portfolio including, cloud and big data, supports all levels of government. Read More

ATCON roots for spectrum market

NCC board chair Peter Igho, Commisisoner  Mrs Biodun Olujimi, and ATCON chief Lanre Ajayi ATCON has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission to enable the creation of a “spectrum market” where the scarce airwaves could be bought and sold. Read More

MACRA cautioned as court okays ‘Spy Machine’

Three days after the Supreme Court of Appeal in Blantyre ruled that Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) can roll out the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (CIRMS) which is popularly known as ‘the Spy Machine’, the country's consumer rights body has cautioned the regulator on the use of the ... Read More

Fake NIN enrolment agents on prowl, warns NIMC

Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has raised the alarm over reports making the rounds that eligible applicants must pay certain sums of money before they could enroll for the National Identification Number (NIN). Read More

ICT-enabled census to make a difference in DRC

MONUSCO/Myriam Asmani, Wikimedia DRC’s first census in 30 years will be supported by ICTs to ensure a fast and faultless process. Read More

NCS tasks govt on R&D funding

The Nigeria Computer Society has urged the Federal Government to increase funding of R&D. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoice

FEATURED STORY

MFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmersMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers

Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures. 

IN DEPTH

iProcure delivers inputs to farmers’ doorsteps using ICTsiProcure delivers inputs to farmers’ doorsteps using ICTs

An innovation dubbed iProcure is already being used by several agro input firms which are now relying on it to distribute their products to farmers. 

COMPANY NEWS

VMware announces VMware Workstation 11 and VMware Player 7 Pro

VMware Workstation 11 marks 15 years of innovation with Windows 10 Tech Preview readiness, state of the art performance and cloud connectivity.

Schneider Electric signs exclusive off-grid solar distribution agreement with Zimbabwean firm

Schneider Electric has announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with Samansco, a Zimbabwean renewable energy, back-up power and appropriate technology company.

SAP Innovation Helps The Global Fund Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in Africa

Extending a longstanding partnership, SAP is a founding member of The Global Fund’s new Innovation Coalition to support disease prevention and treatment.