Btv tender won by Japanese firm

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana Television (Btv) has handed a lucrative project to Hitachi Kokusai Linear Equipamentos Eletronicos (HKL), a subsidiary of Hitachi Kokusai Electric, for the development of digital terrestrial television (DDT) broadcasting transmitters.

According to details of the project, the tender includes the design, production, installation and construction of all the digital transmitters located in 45 transmitting stations in Botswana.

The development follows the visit to Japan by leading government officials last year. The then Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is now the country’s vice president and the then Minister of Transport and Communications, Nonofo Molefhi the new Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST) visited Japan last year and discussed the features and strengths of Japan’s ISDB-T transmitters, as well as considerations for introducing the equipment to Botswana.

Botswana is the first country in Africa to adopt Japan’s digital terrestrial television broadcasting system. According to Wikipedia, DTT is a technological evolution of broadcast television and advancement over analogue television. DTT broadcasts land-based signals.

According to the deputy permanent secretary in the Department of Information and broadcasting, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo, the winning Japanese company will supply, install and commission digital terrestrial television transmitters for the television station.

He pointed out that this was an “open international tender,” adding that “the delivery of the transmitters is expected to begin in February 2015.”

“Digital terrestrial television broadcasting will allow Batswana and anybody who watches television broadcasting in Botswana to enjoy superior quality and wider offering television as soon as Botswana migrates from analogue television broadcasting to digital television broadcasting,” he explained.

In February last year, Botswana adopted Japan’s ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial) as its digital terrestrial television broadcasting standard.

Reports say Botswana anticipates that digital terrestrial television will become an additional driver in the country’s efforts to transform the country into an E-Society.  Currently, the country is putting in place administrative structures, to be led by a digital migration implementation office and task force to fast track project delivery.

Media reports say the country’s decision to adopt the Japanese ISDB-T standard for digital terrestrial television instead of the European standard, favoured by many of the neighbours, and prompted sharp criticism from a South African industry body. The Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association (SADIBA) recently pointed out that “the decision would burden citizens with unnecessary costs, reduce the prospect of costs dropping in future, and reduce the benefits possible from the transition to digital.

However adamant authorities defended the decision saying “digital transmitters will create an environment for viewing digital television broadcasting, adding that the IS series digital transmitters to be delivered in this order are compatible with the standard of Japan’s ISDB-T. This is the standard for the transmission of digital television over-the-air (terrestrial).”

Hitachi Kokusai said it was entrusted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan to carry out demonstration tests of digital terrestrial television broadcasting in Botswana.

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