The Presidential Committee on the Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting in Nigeria has announced the first half of 2014 as the period for a switchover to digital broadcasting. This disclosure was made by Edward Amana, Chairman of the Committee, also known as DigiTeam. He explained that Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Enugu will commence switchover during the period.
Amana also said that “the federal government would realise more than $2 billion from the auction of unused mobile broadband spectrum as a result of vacation from the UHF bands television stations which would be sold to prospective telecommunications operators.”
He also said, “The telecommunications operators require additional bandwidth in order to deliver faster internet services which Nigerians are willing to pay for.”
Digital broadcasting is the use of digital data rather than analogue waveforms to carry broadcasts over television channels or assigned radio frequency bands. Digital broadcasting uses less bandwidth, has improved image quality, and reduces noise from weak signals amongst several advantages.
Amana also noted that “one of the benefits of digital transition is that by the time we switchover from analogue to digital, part of the upper UHF will now be available for the telecoms operator to use for mobile broadband, which will now make life in the rural areas a lot more easier for those who can afford it.”
Amana said, “The decision to transit to digital broadcasting was taken in 2007 when it was decided by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that the upper band of UHF 790-862 should be set aside after the transition to be allocated on co-primary basis with other service providers.
“In 2012, the telecoms operators were pushing for more allocation for their mobile broadband; it was now again decided that after the transition, the band from 694-790 should also be added and identified for use by mobile broadband.”
“NCC is an end user like NBC, so at the end of the day, if the nation and the rest of Africa decide that the leftover spectrum be used for mobile broadband, leftover frequencies will now be left for NCC to auction to telecommunications operators.”
“You remember, when MTN and others were bidding for their licences, what they were basically bidding for was to have access to the spectrum to be able to deliver GSM. A similar process will be carried out here as this particular spectrum is even more competitive than what they had before.”
“Gradually, we are looking at switching on the major cities first, starting from Abuja in the first quarter of 2014 followed by Lagos, Port Harcourt and Enugu in that sequence before the deadline in 2015. Starting from Abuja, the mistakes we have made will be corrected gradually as we push on to other states across the country.”
“The nature of the success is getting all the big cities to switch over first and catering for the rural area is less of a problem. Our strategy is to move from city to city before the deadline which is June 17, 2015.”
“A critical issue to be resolved was the appointment of companies that would help in the manufacturing of the Set Top Boxes (STB) and the three main carriers that would be responsible to set up the platform for the transmission of the programmes.”
“One will evolve from the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), while the others will be by open bids. Now that we have agreed on a common standard, very soon, the bid documents will be made public; interested companies by then can bid for the carrier because they have to set up a network of transmission covering the country. Anybody who wants to operate a television station will now negotiate with them.”