Digital Television Migration
Analogue terrestrial television has been in existence since the 1940’s. The advancement in technology has rendered Analogue Television obsolete due to its inefficient use of the frequency spectrum which is a limited resource. Whereas Analogue Terrestrial Television uses one frequency to carry one programme channel, Digital Terrestrial Television can use one frequency to carry multiple programme channels thereby allowing for transmission of many television programmes using one frequency channel and at a lower cost.
Television Broadcasting utilizes two types of frequency bands, namely:
(a) Very High-Frequency Band (VHF), which range from 174 – 240 MHz, providing a frequency spectrum bandwidth of 66 MHz.
(b) Ultra High-Frequency Band (UHF), which range from 470 – 862 MHz, providing a frequency spectrum bandwidth of 392 MHz.
In order to enable the world to move into the digital age, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations Agency, has set 17th June 2015 as the deadline for countries to switchover from Analogue to Digital Television Broadcasting.
Zambia to go ‘Digital TV’
Zambia, like all other African countries and other parts of the world, will be changing the Terrestrial Television Broadcasting platform from Analogue to Digital. This will be in conformity with the provisions of the Geneva 2006 (GE06) Digital TV Broadcasting plan. The plan is a transformation of the old Analogue Television Plan (174-230MHz and 470-862MHz) and encompasses Europe, the Arab States and Africa.
The change is mainly meant to address the rising demand for Terrestrial Television Broadcasting. With digital transmission, up to eight Television programmes can be transmitted on a spectrum or frequency space of a single Analogue programme. This, therefore, means a capacity increase of eightfold. As a result of increased capacity, some spectrum will be freed-up for use by the broadband wireless access services. Other than capacity increase, digital transmission delivers superior quality with value added services such as tele-text, online programming guides as well as e-Governance and e-Commerce. The change will have to take place on or before Wednesday, 17th June 2015. All Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states would have switched over to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) by 31st December 2013. As a country, Zambia has set 31st December 2014 as a date by which all Analogue Terrestrial Television should have been switched off.
In order to smoothly and effectively affect the change, broadcasters will have to change the mode of transmission from Analogue to Digital, while the TV receivers will have to be digital ready TV sets or the current analogue sets but with digital set-top boxes (the latter convert digital signals to analogue – so the analogue TV set can display them).
A National Task Force on Digital Migration was set-up by the Zambian government to make recommendations and generally oversee the national digital migration process. The operations of the Task Force are being managed by a National Steering Committee which is composed of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, Communications Authority and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.
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