Namibia plans June DTT launch


The Namibian government is looking at an on-air DTT (digital terrestrial television)
launch date of June 2013, following the April switch-on of the DTT transmitter in
Gross Herzog, which covers the whole of Windhoek.

Prior to this, the country’s first ever DTT transmitter was switched on for trial
purposes in September last year in Klein Windhoek, a gap filler site in Windhoek. The
DTT transmission standard selected by Namibia is DVB-T2 with MPEG-4 compression.

Once Namibia switches off the analogue signal in March 2016, 65 DTT transmitters
will provide coverage for 80% of the country. Because the deadline set for Africa’s
analogue switch-off by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) is June
2015, border sites are being prioritised in Namibia’s DTT roll-out.

Says Aldred Dreyer, chief technology officer of NBC (Namibia Broadcasting
Corporation): “By June 2015 the ITU will not provide any protection to broadcasters if
a neighbouring country’s DTT transmissions interfere with their analogue
transmissions. If we switch on our border sites first we will eliminate this risk.’

He notes that as NBC has been deemed the national carrier, it has been tasked with
the DTT roll-out.

“The original plan was to launch DTT in April this year but we had to postpone
because of the NBC’s lack of decoder distribution readiness, as well as the
outstanding DTT policy and regulatory matters. Now NBC is looking at a June 2013

“We plan to order 20 000 decoders every quarter from manufacturer Shenzen Jiuzhou
Electric Co Ltd until we reach a figure of 100 000. A tender has been issued to select
a company to handle distribution of the decoders because we decided that this
activity should be fully outsourced,’ explains Dreyer.

He reports that the DTT policy guidelines have now been finalised and submitted to
cabinet for approval. It is expected that they will be gazetted this month. NBC is part
of the DTT National Forum, which comprises CRAN (Communications Regulatory
Authority of Namibia), free-to-air commercial broadcaster One Africa, and community
broadcaster TBN Namibia. The DTT Forum meets every two weeks to report on the
country’s digital migration progress to the Ministry of ICT (Information and
Communication Technology).

Two DTT mux (multiplex) licence categories have been created – a public mux (to be
operated by NBC) and a commercial mux. An open tender has been issued for the
national call centre that will be required to help consumers transition to DTT.

According to Dreyer, the entire DTT project is funded by government, which will make
public the decoder price once it is approved by cabinet. Pensioners and vulnerable
citizens will pay half the retail price.

NBC’s planned DTT channels include the existing NBC channel (a family channel), NBC
News (to be launched in June 2013) and NBC 3 (an entertainment channel to be
launched later this year). The broacaster’s 10 existing radio services will also be put
on the DTT public mux.

Dreyer concludes: “NBC appointed Huawei through a tender process as its system
integrator to upgrade our satellite uplink and the transmitters, implement the
encoding and multiplexing and build the system architecture.’

By Joanna Sterkowicz

Screen Africa magazine – April 2013


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