Rwanda Information Office (ORINFOR), is set to start broadcasting digital content starting March this year. The move is in line with government’s commitment to go digital, ahead of the East African Community’s agreed timeframe.
The EAC set a deadline of December 2012 for all member states to switch to digital television.
During this period, both analogue and digital content will run concurrently for a minimum of six months, when the country will fully switch over to digital transmission.
The move is meant to support both transmission formats so that people can get ample time to adjust and get used to the new system. After that period, analogue systems will be phased out completely.
The government last year allocated US$ 40 million to ORINFOR, to facilitate the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.
According to Innocent Nkurunziza, the Technical Director of ORINFOR, the public broadcasting body will soon supply 800 Set Top Boxes (STBs) countrywide to facilitate access to digital images of Rwanda Television.
The STBs are decoding devices that convert analogue images to digital. The converters will enable TV set owners to watch digital TV content without having to buy new sets.
Speaking to The New Times on Wednesday, Sam Alexander, the Managing Director of Better World Limited, LG’s partner in Rwanda, the new generation of flat screen television sets will have better clarity pictures and sound effects.
“The future is for digital and electronics during the digital broadcasting period, and the business community dealing in TV sets will benefit a lot from the migration,” asserted Alexander, whose company deals in digital TV sets.
The transition deadline of 2015 from analogue to digital Broadcasting was set by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2006 during ITU’s Regional Radio Communication Conference in Geneva.
Albert Rudatsimburwa, the founder and director of private radio, Contact FM, said digital transmission comes with a wide range of benefits to consumers and operators.
“It will create new spectrum for broadband wireless due to the fact that the digital broadcast signal can be compressed, spectrum can be freed up and this can be sold to communications operators who want to provide better wireless broadband services,” he mentioned.
Rudatsimburwa, who is an expert in digital broadcasting services, stated that with the digital revolution, people will be able to watch TV shows on their mobile phones, computers and other devices.
“This transition will facilitate content producers to produce the best content where the television viewers will get improved picture and sound quality,” he asserted.
He mentioned that going by the anticipated benefits, it is clear that everyone stands to benefit from the migration. Business operators and the general public should respond positively to the set deadline.
Benefits of Digital broadcasting
Digital broadcasting will provide better picture and sound quality, with those at the edge of signal coverage areas who currently get a poor quality signal or none at all, able to get high quality signals.
Broadcasters will in the future also be able to offer High Definition (HD) programmes to their viewers.
Other benefits include improved subtitling and other technologies that cater to the special needs of disadvantaged groups, such as people with disabilities and the elderly.
The Director General of the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), Regis Gatarayiha, told The New Times that his institution is currently working around the clock to attain full migration to digital broadcasting by the end of 2012.
“We have set up subcommittees to put together what is necessary before we fully switch over to digital migration. The digital network is already operational and service providers can acquire licenses to telecast digital content,” he emphasised.
Gatarayiha said that operators will also benefit from the switchover through anticipated lower transmission costs and the use of multiple transmitters on the same frequency.
People should look forward to the digital revolution where they stand to view a wider range of channels with improved content and sound, he said.
Rwanda’s digital transition in broadcasting has the potential to improve both the quantity and quality of what is available on television.