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.

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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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