Bots’ digital migration choice questioned


Gaborone – Botswana has been criticised for deciding to adopt a Japanese digital television broadcasting standard ahead of 2015 digital migration deadline. In accordance with international broadcasting regulations, traditional analogue television signal will be switched off and replaced by stronger digital technology on June 12, 2015.

SADC affirmed the deadline in Geneva 2006 and all African countries chose the European standard of Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial 2nd Generation (DVB-T2). Botswana, however, became the only country in Africa to use the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial (ISDB-T) used by the Japanese.

Speaking at a digital migration conference in Dubai, the Executive Director of Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB), Dr Peter Siebert, “It’s not true that ISDB-T will be as good as DVB-T2. This is the only market that will use ISDB-T 8 MHz in the world. This is going to be expensive.”

He added that there are no economies of scale in using a standard that has been adopted by no other African country. At least 400 000 households out of Botswana’s population of about 2 million, are estimated to have television sets.

Siebert pitied those who will be disadvantaged by Botswana’s lone decision to adopt a Japanese model. The Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association (Sadiba) has also criticised Botswana for choosing a Japanese digital television standard over the more commonly practised European one.

Sadiba executive, Gerhard Petrick, said while it is within Botswana’s right to opt for a migration standard of her choice, comparing Japanese ISDB-T to European DVB-T2 is “unfair” because the Japanese model is less robust. “You need to get more for less and this will increase electricity bill.” Botswana adopted Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial (ISDB-T) because it is supposed to provide simultaneous transmissions to fixed, mobile and portable receivers from one transmitter, but in doing so, it snubbed the European standard used by neighbouring countries.

South Africa and other countries in the southern African region adopted the second-generation Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial standard. South Africa adopted a newer version of DVB-T2 following debates and a change in the communications minister.

Media reports indicate that following Botswana’s adoption of the Japanese ISDB-T, the Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association, which is an industry forum, has criticised the country’s decision, saying, in a statement, the decision will place the country “on the back foot”. “It burdens citizens with unnecessary costs, reduces the prospect of costs dropping in future, and reduces the benefits possible from the transition to digital. It sets a country up for a wasteful second transition to a newer technology in future,” said in a statement.

According to Sadiba, independent research conducted by the Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, South Africa, has proved DVB-T2 is “far superior” to other digital standards.

“The growing number of commercial deployments of DVB-T2 across Asia, Europe and Africa bear witness to the fact that DVB-T2 is the world’s most advanced terrestrial broadcast standard,” said Sadiba. Botswana, Brazil and Japan are the only countries that have adopted ISDB, except China and the Caribbean and the USA have adopted DVN-T2.

October 2013
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