UBC On Digital Transmission Pilot

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In short
Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has completed the initial stage of installing digital transmission equipment, and is piloting both the digital and analogue signal before making the switch.

Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has completed the initial stage of installing digital transmission equipment, and is piloting both the digital and analogue signal before making the switch.

This means that viewers with the Digital Video Broadcasting – second generation Terrestrial (DVBT2) set top boxes can already receive the digital signal. However, transmission of the analogue and digital is simultaneous and the analogue signal will be switched off once Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) determines to do so.

Uganda Radio Network made a short visit to UBC’s Engineering Department, and found the digital signal being relayed through DVBT2 set top box. The Studio and Production Engineer Angelo Nkezza says the set top box came as part of the package of digital equipments that are already installed on the Kololo mast.

The installation of the mast on 4th August, temporarily switched stations linked to the Kololo mast off air. Affected TV stations were Bukedde, Urban, CCTV, CRI, Citizen, East Africa TV, NTV, ITV, LTV, Miracle, Top TV, WBS, NBS and Record. Tenant radio stations that were also affected were; Super FM, BBC, Citizen Radio, Sanyu FM, and East Africa Radio.

The Digital Migration Policy specifies that UBC is the sole distributor of the digital signal for a period of five years.
 
Nkezza explains that the National Digital Plan involves the installation of the Head End, the process where signals from content providers are digitized, encoded, and converted into a digital transport stream. The signals are then distributed to digital TV sets or DVBT2 set top boxes. The process enables dissemination of digital signals to consumers throughout the country. URN spoke Kampala viewers already receiving the digital signal.

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Nkezza says that once all consumers acquire set top boxes, it will be easier for UBC to convert the digital signals to analog TV sets. It is estimated that there are about 2 million analog TV sets in the country. Simon Arinaitwe, Head of Marketing and Sales at StarTimes, says as a pay TV provider, they have stocked digital TV sets in combination of DVBT2 set top boxes.
 
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For the process to move smoothly, UCC has embarked on a sensitization campaign to inform the public on what to expect during and after digital migration.

Already UCC has signed a supply, installation and commissioning contract with Harris Broadcast to carry out the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) for Greater Kampala. This extends to a radius of 50 to 60 km covering Najjera, Nansana on Hoima Road, Bweyogerere along Jinja Road, Zana on Entebbe Road, Gaba, and Kyengera on Masaka road.

The project has the capacity to carry 24 channels, but Nkezza informs that once equipment with a wider capacity is procured, the number of digital channels available in Kampala will increase to 48.