Kenya decides to upgrade its DTT system, affecting 30,000 consumers
December 3rd, 2010 - 15:12 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

The government of Kenya has suspended the importation of set top boxes for digital terrestrial TV, as it has decided to adopt the newer DVB-T2 system instead of the DVB-T system that has been operating in Nairobi for almost a year. The 30,000 early adopters who purchased DVB-T set top boxes will now have to purchase a newer box to continue receiving digital signals.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Information and Communication stopped with immediate effect further importation of the set top boxes using the DVB-T currently in the market to pave way for the superior DVB-T2. “All equipment vendors of the equipment to cease, with immediate effect, any further importation of the DVB-T set top boxes. All importations and sales must from now henceforth comply with the DVBT-2 systems,” said Dr Ndemo. He added: “In order to access programmes on the superior technology, consumers will have to invest on new gadgets that are compatible.”

Licensed vendors or dealers of such equipment will be required to display at the point of sale a valid vendor authorisation and type approval certificate issued by the Communications Commission of Kenya. This is aimed at protecting mechanisms for consumers to ensure they purchase set top boxes that are authentic and of acceptable standards.

The upgrade to the superior standard implies that any subsequent roll-out of the digital broadcasting infrastructure in Kenya shall be on the new platform. However, both the old and the new platform will run parallel in Nairobi up to 2012, meaning that those who have invested in the gadget can only use it until that period.

Other consumers to be affected by the move are those who have bought set top boxes from the recently launched pay TV service, Smart Television. “They will also have to upgrade as their set top boxes operate on the DVB-T” said Dr Ndemo. It also means that those holding the set top boxes will not be able to view any new broadcasting channels that will be introduced after the government has switched to the new platform.

To broadcasters, the upgrade will give a chance to offer better sound and picture quality on top of more broadcasting channels. Kenya started the pilot phase in December 2009 when the DVB-T was introduced. The technology has, however, since evolved, paving way for the superior technology which the country now intends to switch to.