Botswana launches digital TV

But unlike most of its neighbours, Botswana has chosen the Japanese rather than European broadcasting standard for digital terrestrial television. By Duncan McLeod.


Botswana has switched on digital terrestrial television, beating South Africa, its big neighbour to the south, to launch digital broadcasts. However, unlike most other countries in the region, Botswana has opted for a Japanese standard for its roll-out.

South Africa spent a year working with its neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) considering alternatives to the European DVB-T standard. This followed intense lobbying by Japan and Brazil to adopt ISDB-T. South Africa eventually settled on the second generation of the European standard, with most of Sadc — with the exception of Angola and Botswana — falling in line.

Botswana is the first country in Africa to launch digital TV broadcasts using the Japanese standard. “I wish to express my heartfelt thanks and respect to all government officials of Botswana who made enormous efforts in deciding to adopt ISDB-T and commence digital TV,” says Keiichiro Tachibana, vice-minister for internal affairs and communication in the Japanese government.

Japan has promised to provide assistance to Botswana, including human resource development and technology transfer, as it moves from analogue to digital broadcasts.

A number of countries in Latin America, led by Brazil, have adopted ISDB-T for digital broadcasts. However, DVB-T and its successor, DVB-T2, remain the most popular standard worldwide.

“I would like to make today’s ceremony an opportunity for other countries in Southern Africa to adopt ISDB-T and prompt a smooth transition of the introduction of digital TV,” says Tachibana. “Japan will continue encouraging other Sadc member countries to adopt ISDB-T.”

That is unlikely to include South Africa, whose state-owned signal distributor, Sentech, which is responsible for building the country’s digital distribution network, has mostly completed the roll-out of a nationwide network based on DVB-T2.

Botswana vice-president Ponatshego Kedikilwe says the government has already invested more than P160m (about R185m) in expanding its radio and television transmission network. By June 2013, Botswana Television covered 85% of the country through terrestrial signals.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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  • Joe Black

    And to think if Julius was able to bring about a regime change then they’d probably be stuck with analogue for the next 10 years.

  • Lumina SS

    How many channels? 1 of 1…. In South Africa we have more than 400 channels to choose from via satellite broadcasts. Digital TV is far behind satellite technology hence the word terrestial in between it.

  • Greg Kawere

    would have appreciated some insight on the implications of the use of the DVB-T or ISDB-T standard . is there some incompatibility that will result from the use of the different systems at country, regional & continental level

  • stevesong

    sticking with analogue is probably the smartest, although not politically acceptable approach. hunker down and wait for a combination of Over The Top and satellite technologies to blow past digital terrestrial broadcast

  • stevesong

    they are completely incompatible, 6MHz vs 8MHz channels for a start. now there is the possibility of cross-border channel interference. there is only one reason for Botswana choosing ISDB-T… money

  • monocular

    Botswana will rue the day they chose the Japanese
    system. DVB-T2 is technically so comprehensively better than ISDB-T
    that choosing it is a no-brainer when setting up a new system in a
    country from scratch. I will stick my neck out and forecast that
    Botswana will abandon the Japanese system down the road and switch to
    DVB-Tx in its then, latest iteration.

  • Joe Black

    I agree about Over the Top especially, but I myself see nothing wrong with Digital Terrestrial. It’s certainly more efficient than analogue. I really do not see the reason why the DoC seems unable to make headway there. It’s quite frankly suspect. From there the very popular speculation on topics ranging from propaganda by state owned media all the way to financial government interests in media.

    It’s so easy to forget that in the end the widespread use of Over The Top services will never be viable here if the DoC cannot pull its head out of its behind on the fixed line problems we face. Neither will Satellite TV ever be accessible to the poor even with low costs such as these without massive subsidization. I mean come on… R2000 installation. I might go for that if I like the channels, but if the state does not pay for the installation you won’t see many of these on the shacks of poor people.

    They could have gone with any of the standards long ago and just allowed the use of imported set top boxes for decoding (300 bucks a pop) and the problem would have been solved. But the whole thing was mired in obstacle after obstacle thrown in the way mostly by DoC ministers – If not actual obstacles then simply inaction. I mean the process of delivering nothing has actually cost SA many billions of Rands over the decade or so that they have failed.

    The long term benefit of locally manufactured set top boxes is rather debatable.

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