Ghana sets standards for DTT set top boxes
Ghana’s NCA has released the specifications for receivers of digital TV in Ghana, as the nation prepares for digital migration.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) has released the Minimum Specifications for Receivers of Free to Air Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in Ghana.
This is in pursuance of the Authority’s mandate under Section 3(a) of the National Communications Authority Act, 2008, Act 769 to establish and monitor the implementation of national communications standards and ensure compliance accordingly.
The Minimum Specifications have been developed because the free to air terrestrial television stations: GTV, TV3, TV Africa, Crystal TV, Metro TV, Viasat1, Net-2 TV, e-TV Ghana, Coastal TV, GhOne, Top TV, UTV and all other stations with similar licenses will migrate their transmissions from analogue to a digital platform in accordance with the Geneva 2006 (GE06) Agreement of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) offers improved spectrum efficiency compared to analogue TV. It also offers enhanced video and audio quality, interactivity, as well as increased programme choices.
Terrestrial television broadcasting in Ghana is carried out in the frequency bands 174–230 MHz (VHF) and 470–862MHz (UHF). Initially the DTT service will be available in parallel with the existing analogue service (i.e. simulcast period). However, the analogue TV network will be switched off in phases starting from December 2014.
During the digital television transition, viewers would require TV sets with the capability of receiving digital television signals transmitted according to the approved standards i.e. integrated digital TV (iDTV) sets. Viewers whose TV sets are able to receive only analogue signals will need to use special digital adapters, i.e. set-top boxes (STBs), which have the primary function of converting digital input to analogue output signals.
The NCA said the objective of the Minimum Specification is to ensure a DTT receiver which will provide good quality video and sound for the viewer and to ensure the lowest possible cost for the free-to-air receiver. The Specification therefore sets requirements for a free-to-air DTT receiver which will result in a low cost, low maintenance unit providing basic functionality, i.e. demodulating the DVB-T/DVB-T2 signal and decoding the MPEG-2/MPEG-4 programme broadcasts and an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) providing details of the available services.
All Standard Definition (SD) functionalities shall be mandatory for all DTT Receivers. High Definition (HD) functionalities are mandatory for iDTVs but optional for STBs.
It said: “In accordance with Section 5(c) of the National Communications Authority Act, 2008, Act 769, the Authority shall take the necessary steps to protect consumers from sub-standard products. In this regard, the Authority shall apply its mandate under Section 66 of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008, Act 775 to certify terminal equipment of public electronic communications network.
In pursuance of this mandate, the Authority hereby requires that all digital terrestrial television receivers (set-top boxes and integrated digital television sets) sold on the Ghanaian market to conform to the minimum receiver specification which is available on the Authority’s website (www.nca.org.gh). To enforce this requirement, all STBs and integrated digital TV sets sold in Ghana shall pass a conformance test in order to obtain the 'digital Ghana thumb' which has been developed as a certification mark to help consumers and retailers through switchover in Ghana. The logo is designed to identify digital TV products and digital TV services that have been tested and found to conform to Ghana’s technical specifications.
With immediate effect, there shall be no manufacture, assembly, importation, marketing, or sale of a set-top box (STB) for Digital Terrestrial Television which does not conform to the requirements specified in this document.”
Consumers of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services were advised to “look for the logo" when buying digital TV equipment.