TV viewers rush to buy digital converters

Following the switch-off of analogue transmission sites at Jali and Rebero mountains, demand for set top boxes and decoders has increased as viewers are in a frenzy to get onto the digital platform.

Following the switch-off of analogue transmission sites at Jali and Rebero mountains, demand for set top boxes and decoders has increased as viewers are in a frenzy to get onto the digital platform.

The analogue switch-off, which was effected on Friday mid-night, marked the first phase of the digital migration process that will be done progressively until July 31.

The areas affected in the first switch-off include, Kigali's three districts; Gasabo, Nyarugenge and Kicukiro. Muhanga, Rulindo, Kayonza, Kamonyi, Rwamagana, Bugesera and their surrounding regions.

Rwanda Broadcasting Agency’s technical director Innocent Nkurunziza said they had noted a rise in demand and inquiries regarding set top boxes after the analogue transmission switch off.

“Since the switch off was effected, the traffic on our hotline has significantly increased with people wanting to know where they can obtain the STBs, what make and if they can purchase digital television sets,” Nkurunziza said.

However, he added that the number of affected viewers was not big.

“We do not think that many people were locked out following the switch-off. There had been enough awareness campaigns in the areas that were set to be affected and most people were prepared.”

Patrice Nsengiyumva, a resident of Remera, one of those who were caught up by the switch-over and have missed out on TV programmes for the entire weekend, said he had been reluctant because he assumed that RBA would not follow through with the switch-off.

“There has been talk of the migration for a long time and every time they kept postponing. Now that they have gone through with it, I am getting a set top box as soon as possible,” Nsengiyumva said.

Engineer Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, the head of communication and Media regulation department at Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (Rura), said there had been enough awareness carried out before the switch-off to ensure that the residents of affected areas were well aware.

“We have been using the various mass communication outlets from radios, television, bill boards and working with media practitioners through press conferences to see to it that as many people as possible were aware that they would lose their signals if they were not on a digital platform,” Eng. Mutabazi said.

Last week , RBA carried out a test-run where they switched off the analogue transmitters briefly as part of the awareness campaign.

Medard Nezehoze, Sorim Ltd managing director, one of the companies authorised to distribute set boxes, confirmed that demand has been high prior to the switch-off deadline, including orders from government institutions.

According to Rura, the period between now and the next switch off planned for March 31 that will target the analogue transmitter stations at Mugogo, Rubona and Gitwe, they will monitor and evaluate the success of the first phase and draw lessons from it for the next switch off.

Among the benefits Rwandan stand to receive from the migration is better image quality for viewers as well as a choice from six free-to-air channels.

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