Digital migration in Kenya seems to be progressing well even though most Kenyans do not have access to the expensive decoders, and only a few Kenyans are able to receive the digital signals.
Digital television (DTV) transmits television signals using digital signal rather than analog methods. Analogue signal conveys data as continuous signals of varying frequency or amplitude while digital signals are digitally processed in the form of discrete bits of information.
A decision made at the Regional Radio Conference of 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland (RRC-06) required all countries in the RRC planning area to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting by 17th June 2015.
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), a government media house, through its subsidiary Signet and Pan Africa Network Group (PANG-Kenya) are the only licensed distributors. A distributor delivers contents of TV stations to the consumers. In December 2009, the signal was launched in Nairobi and its environs.
Earlier, the government had adopted digital transmission using DVB-T signal technology, but it was abandoned and DVB-T2 technology which is more advanced was adopted.
Analog TV sets will require digital set top boxes to convert the analogue signal to a digital signal to enable the channels to be displayed on the analogue TV set. The user will also need a UHF aerial facing where a signal distributor has placed its broadcasting equipments. For those in Nairobi, the aerial should face in the direction of Limuru.
The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) has authorized 28 free-to-air set top boxes. There are two pay-tv set top boxes, Star times’ STAR9000T2, which is currently being sold at Ksh3,499 and Gotv’s PACE DT280IMC, going for Ksh.1,799.
There are other 36 free to air set-top-boxes and 1 pay-TV set-top-box that have been authorized but currently do not have any stock in the country. A consumer can also purchase a digital TV with an In-built DVB-T2 tuner which doesn’t require a set top box.
There are over 50 free to air digital channels, that ranges from commercial TV stations, educational, church, community TVs.
Advantages of digital migration in kenya
There are many benefits that come with the digital signal broadcast:
- The picture and sound are of high quality hence more appealing
- Consistency of signal reception over varying distances
- Interactive television like Internet services, computer games, and on-screen TV guide
- More than one channel can occupy the same air space since signals are more compact making it possible to fit more channels in a certain range of frequencies.
- There is improvement in signal reception, which eliminates ghosting and other errors.
- A greater number of channels, unlike analog TV you have access to just a couple of TV channels, digital platform will enable the end-user have access to countless channels.
- Digital platform is able to simultaneously accommodate high definition and standard definition channels, mobile TV and digital audio.
- A wide variety of programs and shows will be available since there are many TV stations.
- Promoting local Kenyan talents and artists.
Challenges of Digital Migration in kenya
- Unless you have a good antenna/aerial, the signal is weak and you may not be able to watch TV.
- You will need to buy set-top box.
- Difficulty in aligning the antenna, which must face a particular direction.
- There will be a slight increase in energy bills.
- Changing channels is slower, unlike analogue which is instant.
- Monthly subscription and one must pay for the free to air channels in kenya (in some decoders).
Digital migration in Kenya started several years ago, but due to lack of information and awareness, most Kenyans have been caught unawares. Having entered the final phase of the digital migration in Kenya, the analog signal could be gone for good and Kenyans must dig deeper into their pockets to get the decoders whose prices are expected to come down as many media houses and business people continue to import gadgets.