Suppliers and vendors of digital migration equipment will be required to supply genuine digital set top boxes (STB’s) to consumers when the shift to digital broadcasting takes off.
The Ministry of Information and Communication has said that failure to follow the required specifications, the dealers will be subjected to heavy penalties according to the law.
The move comes in yet another forum by the Government, meant to fast track the digital shift to meet the national deadline. Another forum was held earlier for the broadcasters, that saw the addition of Media Owners as a third distributor of digital signals.
Speaking during the dealers of electronic equipment forum at a Nairobi hotel, the Deputy Secretary of administration in the ministry of information, Henry Mungasia said that the suppliers play a critical role in ensuring the shift takes off smoothly. He however cautioned them to ensure they supply the right types of set boxes to be on the safe side of the law.
“I cannot emphasize on the importance of obtaining and selling only type approved equipment, suppliers found to be dealing with fake or unapproved equipment will face serious penalties,” said Mungasia in a speech he read on behalf of The Ministry’s PS, Bitange Ndemo.
The genuine set top boxes should be able to access capability and interoperability with other formats, should be compatible with STB’s and be able to accommodate a wide range of multimedia services.
The ministry has reiterated that both the Digital Video Broadcasting- Terrestial (DVB-T) and DVB-T2 compliant set top boxes will be used simultaneously until the consumers prepare to purchase the latter which is the new standard recommended by the government. The move comes after an outcry for compensation by the consumers who are facing challenges of replacing the old standard.
“It is the considered position of the Government that both standards shall be used simultaneously for sometime to prepare consumers for the purchase of DVB-T2 equipment,” Mungasia said.
DVB-T2 is an upgraded version of the current Digital Terrestial Television standard(DTT), DVBT. This second generation standard has the capacity to increase up to 50 percent of reception conditions through the use of antennas. The viewers will also experience clear signals, quality sound and enhanced interactivity as they will be aware of the subsequent programmes through the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). This is unlike the analogue version that was characterised by poor infrastructure due to sharing of the resources among the broadcasters.
The DVB-T2 also has the provision of doubling the number of channels through the use the MPEG-4 AVC compression format and make between 8-10High Definition(HD) television programme services available to viewers . This makes it effective in increasing profits for suppliers.
On his part the acting Director General of the CCK, Francis Wangusi said compliance with the commissions specifications will avert the hurdles of up taking the digital migration and end complaints and dissatisfaction from consumers.
“Their adherence will ultimately minimize the consumer complaints and dissatisfaction that may bring resistance to the expected change to digital broadcasting,” said Wangusi.
According to the Communication Commission of Kenya, petition from vendors in possession of the DBVT will be considered upon sending their petition to the commission. However vendors have been urged to embrace the changing technology and desist from seeking compensation in future.
“It should be noted that nowhere in the world is compensation provided for technological enhancement because technology is dynamic. Those seeking for compensation should send their petition to the CCK for consideration,” said Mungasia.
On the issue of taxation of the digital migration equipment, which is perceived to be costly to the consumers, the ministry said that zero rating of set top boxes may be considered in the next financial year.
“The digital transition committee is pushing for the removal of tax on the set top boxes to ensure they are cost effective to consumers, this may be considered by July 2012,” said Stanley Kibe, head of spectral efficiency at the CCK.
The implementation of the new standard has been a borne of contention among the broadcaster and manufacturers of the equipments who have lamented on the cost of developing and distributing the set top boxes.
However according to Kibe, in a speech he read on behalf of the CCK’s acting Director General, urged the retailers to invest in the Sh20 billion market segment that will be created by the shift.
“Looking at the four million plus Tv sets in the country, there is greater business potential for retailing in the set top boxes than ever before,” he said.
The ministry of Information and Communication is calling on the private sector to partner with the Government to realize the potential of the Migration. The partnership seeks to enhance awareness creation for the consumers on purchase of the right equipment.
At the same time the Digital Transition Committee (DTT) called on more Universities to embrace the move of facilitating the manufacturing of the equipment in the country. Currently DTT considers to carry out the manufacturing process with the University of Nairobi.
The communication commission will soon release the list of approved suppliers of the digital set top boxes to avoid cases of counterfeit products in the country.