Botswana: another long wait for set-top-boxes

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Batswana, who last year celebrated the move by the national television BTV from analogue to digital, will have to wait a little longer to get maximum benefits from such a transformation. According to a junior minister in the Presidential Affairs and Public Administration Ministry, the set-top-boxes designed to facilitate the quality viewing that comes with digital broadcasting, might only be available on the local market in June 2016.

According to Assistant Minister Philip Makgalemele, “there were two leading technical standards that were approved for the SADC region by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the world body with the mandate over the telecommunications and broadcasting.”

Makgalemele said these two standards were the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial (ISDB-T) and the Digital Video Broadcasting 2nd Generation (DBV-T2) which were the ones allotted to the SADC region.”

Botswana however opted for the ISDB-2 which originates from Japan. The minister said the rationale for the choice of the ISDB-2 was that the technology offered “economic and social benefit to Batswana, as well as the outcome of a comparative assessment and evaluation of technical and performance capabilities of the two standards.”

“The ISDB-T technology offers three modes of transmission being fixed, mobile and portable or handled from one transmitter , compared to more than one transmitter required for the same functionality with other service providers.” He added that the ISDB-T data casting application enables advanced emergency warning services.

According to the minister, in the meantime, the set-top-boxes were not yet available in Botswana but government had assured all concerned stakeholders that the boxes will be sourced locally and his ministry was working with relevant entities to avail the set-top-boxes on the local market by June 2016. A set-top box (STB) or set-top unit (STU) is an information appliance device that generally contains a TV-tuner input and displays output to a television set and an external source of signal, turning the source signal into content in a form that can then be displayed on the television screen or other display device. They are used in cable television, satellite television, and over-the-air television systems, as well as other uses.

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