STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
ZAMBIA today switches from analogue television to digital terrestrial broadcasting in line with the June 17 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
This means that Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) will now have an initial four channels dedicated to news, sports, Parliament and children.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Chishimba Kambwili told Parliament in a ministerial statement yesterday that ZNBC will also be the official carrier of the signal for other television stations.
Mr Kambwili assured citizens that there will be no blackout of television because there will be dual casting of the analogue and digital signals for the next six months.
He explained that President Lungu is scheduled to officially launch the switch-over on Monday, June 22 at Mass Media Complex in Lusaka
Mr Kambwili said the digital migration, which has been done today, is along the line of rail from Livingstone in Southern Province to Chililabombwe on the Copperbelt and is under phase one of the project
He said under phase two, all provincial centres will be migrated to digital terrestrial television while the rest of the country will migrate under phase three.
Mr Kambwili said viewers will be required to acquire set-top box decoders approved by the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) selling at K130 at post offices to access digital television, which is finer and better.
The minister said people need not throw away their television sets because they will only require set-top boxes for continued use.
â€œThere is no need for panic. Old television sets will work even if they are black and white type,â€ he said.
Mr Kambwili said the process of digital migration under phase one cost Government over US$9 million and was undertaken by Star Technologies of China.
And Mr Kambwili said Government will give the decoders to people in rural areas on credit and they will pay the K130 in three instalments.
He said this in response to Gwembe member of Parliament Brian Ntundu (UPND), who wanted to know whether Government will give free decoders to people in rural areas.
With digital transmission, up to eight television programmes can be transmitted on a spectrum or frequency space of a single analogue programme. This, therefore, means a capacity increase of eight-fold.
As a result of increased capacity, some spectrum will be freed up for use by the broadband wireless access services.
Other than capacity increase, digital transmission delivers superior quality with value-added services such as tele-text, online programming guides as well as E-governance and E-commerce.
STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka