Over 51,000 TV sets to be switched off today as digital migration process ends

Over 51,000 people you won’t be able to watch their favourite soaps and news broadcasts beginning midnight today (July 31) as the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) switches off their analogue TV sets, concluding the migration from analogue transmission to digital broadcasting.
Last call: Customers lining up at Star Media to buy digital decoders. (File)
Last call: Customers lining up at Star Media to buy digital decoders. (File)

Over 51,000 people you won’t be able to watch their favourite soaps and news broadcasts beginning midnight today (July 31) as the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) switches off their analogue TV sets, concluding the migration from analogue transmission to digital broadcasting.

According to figures from the 2010 national census, over 192,800 homes had television sets.

“Out of those, 141,260 (70 per cent of all people with TV sets) homes have acquired decoders,” the regulators said. This means that about 51,540 (27 per cent) do not have decoders.

All people with TV sets were expected to have bought set top boxes, commonly known as decoder, by the end of today to enable the switchover to digital broadcasting.

The last phase of the switchover from analogue television transmission to digital broadcasting will involve the west and southwest regions, Patrick Nyirishema, the Rura director general, said last evening. The four-phase switch from analogue to digital transmission started in January this year and ends today July 31.

On January 31 Rura switched off analogue sets in Kigali, while those in the north-west and East were barred on March 31 and on May 31, the regulator switched off north-east and southern parts of the country.

In 2008, the government decided to digitalise the whole network of the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency following the set deadline by the International Telecommunication Union for TV analogue switchover of June 17, 2015.

According to Nyirishema, before the digital migration exercise started, 50 per cent of the TV sets used analogue transmission. “However, the digital coverage is currently at around 95 per cent.”

He said Rura adopted a phased approach to migrate due to decoder distribution constraints.

Rwanda will become the second country in sub-Saharan Africa after Tanzania to switch off its analogue television signal.

Tele 10, Sorim, TransAfrica and Star Africa Media are the four companies licensed to import decoders.

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