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UCC to switch off analogue by April as operators register massive sales

By David Mugabe

Added 22nd February 2016 06:34 PM

A visit to some of the set top boxes dealer centres at UBC opposite Uganda House shows a steady pile up of people buying or inquiring about the set top boxes from the close to 20 dealers, eight months since the migration began

UCC to switch off analogue by April as operators register massive sales

Gospel Digital Technology installing digital migration equipment for Vision Group, Vision Group Head Offices, Kampala, 6 Aug 2015. Photo by Richard Sanya

A visit to some of the set top boxes dealer centres at UBC opposite Uganda House shows a steady pile up of people buying or inquiring about the set top boxes from the close to 20 dealers, eight months since the migration began

The communications industry regulator will switch of analogue by end of April following the gradual migration and installation of digital equipment across the country.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says gradually, the concept of digital migration has been embraced by both operators and users.

"An assessment of its stability is going to be done soon, the availability of set top boxes (decoders) is no longer a challenge because more people have joined the business," noted Fred Otunnu, UCC's director for communications.

Otunnu said 17 sites had been installed outside greater Kampala including Gulu, Arua. Two of the sites were yet to be completed while 15 were up and running outside Kampala.

"The signal is on, whoever has STB can receive," noted Otunnu. With a set top box, a user is able to receive between 12 and 24 channels among them UBC, STAR TV, UBC 24, UBC Magic 1, Bukedde 1, NTV, NBS, WBS, LTV, Miracle, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CCTV, CITIZEN, EATV, CAPITAL, TOP TV, Record TV and Urban TV among others.

But Pay TV station Multchoice, who have operated digital products for over a decade, say they have noted incredible uptake of their products.

"We have more than quadrupled our sales, the active subscriber numbers have shot up," noted Tina Wamala, Multchoice Uganda spokesperson. Wamala says the fairly low cost option GOTV has also seen rising sales only hampered by reach because of its digital terrestrial set up that requires transmission masts.

"Customers want to get our products but there is a limit of reach, we are however building and expanding," said Wamala who also called for more public awareness on what digital migration is and what it can do.

A visit to some of the set top boxes dealer centres at UBC opposite Uganda House shows a steady pile up of people buying or inquiring about the set top boxes from the close to 20 dealers, eight months since the migration began.

Jean Kabatsi, a dealer at UBC says on average, they were selling about 30 to 40 decoders delay at the beginning.

"It has gone down slightly, but we are still doing business," said Kabatsi.

Available statistics indicate there is about 4 million television sets countrywide currently. Otunnu agreed that some dealers have imported low quality decoders and UCC has received complaints from users on the matter.

Currently the digital and analogue are running concurrently. Otunnu explained that the decision to have both platforms working was not to cause any disruptions during elections. Digital migration will bring about more efficient use of available radio spectrum.

Digital migration will free up more radio spectrum space for broadcasting and the associated benefits to the broadcasting sector like provision of more services, better quality picture and sound

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