What is Digital TV and Why It Is Good News For Africa

Analog TV
goodbye analog TV; so long. It is time to usher in a new era in the TV history.
The Kenyan government gave the broadcasters a 2012 deadline by when all their signals should be switched from analog to digital. The global deadline is 2015. Do not kid yourselves, we will eventually move to digital TV sooner rather than later. I know a lot of people did not understand what this meant, including myself. Today, I try to demystify this digital/smart TV thing. All local stations are currently airing analog signals, and to receive them we place aerials on the tallest tree (or building in urban areas). To receive digital signals, this can be done via cable or satellite, which is more reliable and achieves better picture quality.

For those of us who did some Physics in high school, you may understand that we have a limited frequency spectrum over which it is safe and possible to transmit electromagnetic waves. This frequency range can be VHF or UHF.. either way, there is a limit to the number of TV stations that can a TV can receive at one time. However, with digital signals, up to 15 TV channels can be carried over one carrier signal (let’s say frequency). The signal is then decoded and you can choose the channel.

Digital TV
Welcome to digital TV
If you are already using Zuku TV or DSTV, congratulations, you have an understanding of what digital TV is all about. Most TVs being sold are analog, so you will have to buy a decoder and receiver dish (for satellite) in order to receive the signals. Future TVs will have an inbuilt digital decoder. Currently, a DSTV decoder can only decode DSTV channels, a Zuku decoder only channels available on Zuku and so on.. However, pretty soon, I can bet on the Chinese manufacturing decoders that can deliver all possible channels available on satellites within range!

Here is a number of reasons why digital TV is good news for Africa:

Increased Coverage

There is a satellite company that received a license by the Communication Commission of Kenya to distribute digital signals. This is SES whose coverage they claim is over 99% of the world’s population. This means that even if you are in the remotest parts of the world (Africa), you have a 99% chance of receiving the signal. Of course, this will face the challenge of having signal but no electricity! I don’t know the stats, but I can be sure less than 50% of Africans have no access to reliable electricity.

Better Quality Signals, More Channels

With digital TV, we can have High Definition TV; high quality images video and sound. As I said earlier, many channels can be carried on a single signal without affecting quality so we will have access to so many channels that we didn’t have access to before.

More Local Content, Cheaper to be a Content Producer

With all those channels available, can we expect more local content? I surely hope so! I am so tired of seeing all those cheap, trashy, white-washed excuses for soap operas that NTV, Citizen TV, KTN, Kiss TV, K24 are airing. Aren’t you?

With CCK regulations, you can only have a license to be either a distributor or a content provider, not both. So current local stations will have to forgo their distributing or content producing licenses.

It should now be cheaper to apply for a license to be a content provider and start airing your own shows. You will however have to liaise with a digital signals distributor such as Zuku to host your signal.

Only about 10% of household in Africa have access to digital TV, hopefully the number can increase. This is according to SES.

I hope I have clarified what digital TV is all about. Hit me up with any questions you may have. I will give a better answer than: go to google.com, type JFGI and click on I’m Feeling Lucky :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1316723510 Gilbert Barasa

    u have done much better than what the way the govt digital secretariat explained..as a consultant in this area(i have already sone feasibility studies for a local media company) I can also inform you that both GoK and Kenyan media are extremely confused by the digital tv(literally waiting for superman)….

    I would like to point out the following..The current decoders being sold by smart tv are DVB-T and will not work post 2015 when the simulcast period ends. The right decoders to buy are the DVB-T2 decoders…..it is worth noting that the GoK okayed the former only later to change its mind to the latter. many a businessman burnt their fingers with millions of DVB-T decoders already imported..Smart TV MAY recall those decoders in exchange for the right ones, so not much cause for alarm unless they are ready to face a class law suit…

    As concerns decoders being specific to say Smart TV, there are actually some which have provisions to cater for all..The specific ones are DVB-CA while on the contrary we have DVB-CI..yes JFGI..the GoK is dillydallying on this issue thus leaving businessmen in a limbo…u have done much better than what the way the govt digital secretariat explained..as a consultant in this area(i have already sone feasibility studies for a local media company) I can also inform you that both GoK and Kenyan media are extremely confused by the digital tv(literally waiting for superman)….

    I would like to point out the following..The current decoders being sold by smart tv are DVB-T and will not work post 2015 when the simulcast period ends. The right decoders to buy are the DVB-T2 decoders…..it is worth noting that the GoK okayed the former only later to change its mind to the latter. many a businessman burnt their fingers with millions of DVB-T decoders already imported..Smart TV MAY recall those decoders in exchange for the right ones, so not much cause for alarm unless they are ready to face a class law suit…

    As concerns decoders being specific to say Smart TV, there are actually some which have provisions to cater for all..The specific ones are DVB-CA while on the contrary we have DVB-CI..yes JFGI..the GoK is dillydallying on this issue thus leaving businessmen in a limbo…

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the additional information. I guess everyone is waiting for someone else to do something!

  • http://twitter.com/MackelTisa Mackel Tisa

    Can’t wait for 2012, though I no longer watch TV as much as I used to…

    • Anonymous

      Maybe this will give you a reason to watch TV again… what do you do in the evenings, read?

  • http://greatrnk.wordpress.com The Greatrnk

    A lot of Geek stuff, but I have got what is important for me. I also cannot remember the last time I watched anything apart from news and football on TV.

    • Anonymous

      Now you will have access to many news channels and sports channels. DSTV is likely to become cheaper, so yay to supersport!

  • http://twitter.com/Stengosia Steven Ngosia

    Correct me if I am wrong but seem to be talking more about satellite (DTH) rather than the Digital Terrestrial TV that is advanced by CCK. Get your facts right on the platforms, timeline and the long term benefits to consumers. I bet you have heard of signet, smart TV, Oxygen TV. Research on those digital TV players and of late GOTV. After that come up with solid infor. Don’t take it personal, I am just so into this stuff.

    • Anonymous

      That’s the point of the blog.. to bridge the gap between experts like you and clueless people(like me).

      Digital signals can be propagated by satellite or terrestrial means, fact. What’s more, satellite can reach more people than terrestrial.

      The timeline: The GOK has set its deadline to 2012. The global deadline is 2015. That’s a fact.

      Signet, Smart TV, Oxygen TV, those are just companies propagating digital signals and selling to consumers. What do you want me to write about them? I have heard of them.

      Maybe you should get your facts right.. My work is not to go into details of the technology behind satellite TV or the players in the industry, just a general overview.

  • Anilizaignacio

    This is actually cool. Yeah, it is a good news for them because they don’t need to us satellite on it.