BTV sets June date for digital migration

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The Botswana Television digital migration taskforce is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to meet the June 17 deadline for the national broadcaster to move from analogue to digital. Already, an aggressive nationwide awareness campaign is underway to get people alert of the changes that are subsequent due to this migration.

Currently the question among the DBS officials undertaking the project is “How many Batswana fully understand the system?” “We are currently visiting the rural areas although we know this will take time to get the message across but the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) has pledged to the nation that all will be well,” said one DBS official. 

According to BWIT, a local ICT portal, “Digital television is the best thing to happen to television in Botswana.”

However, a decoder will be the first thing one will have to acquire before one can enjoy the full benefits of this new technology. “For one to enjoy the benefits of Digital television one should buy the Black Box decoder also known as the Set top, it is a small sized decoder with a little antenna on it,” said BWIT.

It explains: "The set top box comes with an HDMI cable which you just plug to your television and you are all set. If you happen to own one of those old hunchback televisions it is okay, you are not left out, and you can still get it plugged in. Digital Television will have live data broadcasts, that means you will be having a live feed on whatever is happening at that very moment, for example if there is a football match on, and you turn on the television 30 minutes into the match, you will be able to read all that happened in the first 30 minutes you missed."

All government departments will also be able to feed Batswana with live updates therefore now Batswana will always be in the loop if there is a PITSO (conference) called or allocation of residential plots is about to take place with live weather updates of Botswana all around. Users will also be able to download forms from government departments which one can retrieve from the decoder by connecting your flash drive (memory stick) to your decoder.

In addition to the traditional gadgets that we always associate with TV, “Digital Television allows one to be able to watch television from their smartphone, these phones have not yet landed in Botswana though BWIT got a chance to use it, One will be able to purchase this phone as soon as Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) have given the go ahead. The Set Top decoder is estimated to be selling for between P150 and P500.

Botswana has made progress towards meeting the 2013 SADC and 2015 world deadlines of migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting.

“Government is very much alive to the fact that technological transformation of this magnitude will not come without significant initial cost and potentially on-going development costs over time,” said the former vice President Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

Already, government has invested in excess of $20 million in the expansion of radio and television transmission network alone. As of June 2013, reception of Radio Botswana across the country stood at 95.23 per cent while reception of Botswana Television was 85 per cent on terrestrial network.

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