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.



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS

Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT addresses ITU Plenipotentiary Conference

Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, today addressed the 19th International Telecommunication Union plenipotentiary conference in South Korea. Read More

UNDP donates ICT equipment for DRC elections

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has donated ICT equipment to the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to support the electoral process in this war-hit Central African nation. Read More

Ghana govt to appoint interconnect clearing house

Ghana’s Minister of Communication has hinted at the government’s intention of appointing a company to take charge of the country’s interconnect clearing house by the end of this year.   Read More

IPO not foreigner-friendly

The CEO of BTCL, Paul Taylor, has allayed fears that foreigners resident in Botswana will snap up shares reserved for locals when his organisation starts the Initial Public Offering in November.  Read More

Congo Brazzaville’s bid to switch to e-agriculture

The Central African nation of Congo-Brazzaville has 10 million hectares of arable land, but has so far used only 2% of that land. Analysts believe that the country could 'move mountains' and eradicate hunger with the use of ICTs in improving agriculture. Read More

Malawi Agriculture transport system automated

In partnership with Techno Brain, Malawi’s Agriculture Ministry has launched the first Automated Fleet Management Information System in public service in Malawi. Read More

Telecom Namibia starts work on govt fibre network

Telecom Namibia Managing Director Frans Ndoroma says the national telecommunications services provider has started constructing a fibre-based network to connect the central government to the administrative capitals of all 14 regions in the country. Read More

NCC slams indigenous firms over incompetence

Internet Services CEO Olushola Teniola, ATCON President Lanre Ajayi and NCC EVC/CEO Dr Eugene Juwah The Nigerian Communications Commission has slammed indigenous operators in the industry over ‘incompetence and culture of impunity’. Read More

Malawi explores initiatives for rural mobile roll-out

The Government of Malawi is exploring ways and means to reach out to the far-flung areas with mobile phone service communication in line with the country’s revised Communications Act.  Read More

BOCRA cracks whip on hospitality industry

The Botswana Communications and Regulation Authority (BOCRA) has issued guidelines on minimum internet connectivity requirements for Botswana’s hospitality industry.  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

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

FEATURED STORY

Growing African focus on data securityGrowing African focus on data security

Beachhead Solutions’ new SA and Mauritius country manager explains the challenges and solutions around securing customer data and compliance with new personal information legislation.

IN DEPTH

Africa lags on digital migration Africa lags on digital migration

Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.  

COMPANY NEWS

VMware reports third quarter 2014 results

VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, today announced Year-over-Year Revenue Growth of 18% to $1.52 Billion in its financial results for the third quarter ...