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CTO: Frequency spectrum, key to success of Nigeria’s digital broadcasting switch

CTO: Frequency spectrum, key to success of Nigeria’s digital broadcasting switch
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Shola Taylor, Secretary General of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), has said that frequency spectrum must be made available on sound economic grounds, if Nigeria wants to meet the June 2017 deadline for digital broadcasting switch over.

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]“Whenever possible, while it is the countries’ sovereign right to use spectrum as they fit, it is our view that it must be made available on sound economic ground first, including for the broadcasting sector itself” the CTO chief told the forum that attracted policymakers, regulators and broadcasting industry executives.[/quote]The Nigerian born chief of the influential Commonwealth telecoms group said this Wednesday in Lagos in his opening address at the Digital Broadcasting Africa Forum 2016 underway at Eko Hotels and Suites.

With theme The Pan Africa Transition:Achieving digital migration success Taylor says that CTO has learnt that spectrum has been undervalued in some parts of Africa but making it available is the key to achieving the Digital migration.

“Whenever possible, while it is the countries’ sovereign right to use spectrum as they fit, it is our view that it must be made available on sound economic ground first, including for the broadcasting sector itself” the CTO chief told the forum that attracted policymakers, regulators and broadcasting industry executives.

Shola Taylor, secretary general, commonwealth telecommunications organisation, on the left, and Alheri Saidu, acting director-general, national broadcasting commission, during the press briefin
Shola Taylor, secretary general, commonwealth telecommunications organisation, on the left, and Alheri Saidu, acting director-general, national broadcasting commission, during the press briefin

The forum was co-hosted by the National Broadcasting Commission, Ministry of Information and Culture, and the Ministry of Communication of Nigeria was aimed at reviewing the current state of digital migration in Africa and reflect on emerging trends in digital broadcasting and their likely impact on the continent’s broadcasting sector and on its economic development.

Taylor also told journalists at the sideline of the event that the CTO has launched a strategic plan on  cyber security.

He said cyber threat has become so prevalent today that it has made cyber security very important and extended to include child online protection.

According to him  “cyber security is very important for us today, and that includes child online protection, some of you have children, you protect them online, and there is a need to protect them offline too. Offline and online, we need to protect our children because of the increasing variety of content both positive and negative. So cyber security is one of our big focuses.”

Taylor adds that, “we are always engaging with our members and we look for specific projects. Just last year, we engaged with the National Security service in this country, the SSS, the law enforcement agencies, the telecom operators and the government on how to tackle cyber crime. Nigeria has established cyber policy, and also have a strategy in place.”

Mrs Alheri Saidu,-acting Director-General of NBC
Mrs Alheri Saidu, acting Director-General of NBC

Also speaking at the event, Alheri Saidu, acting Director General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) said that for broadcasters to maintain their relevance in this era of digitization, they must adapt to the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) technology.

She says that “given the competition from internet content, which adds to competing offerings from satellite, cable and now IPTV providers, broadcasters must adapt if they are to remain relevant to the digital era.”

The NBC acting DG also highlighted that migration to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) comes with a lot of very attractive prospects for the future of broadcasting in Nigeria. The switch brings with it “the potential for more channels, greater content choice, and interactive viewing are all very attractive prospects for the future of broadcasting.”

Commenting on the journey so far in meeting up up the ITU deadline, Saidu says that the broadcasting industry regulator has given 13 companies the approval to manufacture set top boxes, which she said would be given at a very subsidised rates.

She said the Jos Pilot digital switch which was launched in April has taken off with 15 channels in just the first month, saying that “by the time we finish in Jos, viewers would be able to watch around 30 or more channels.”

When asked about how much has been put in place for the DSO project by the Federal government, she said NBC is yet to know what the recently approved 2016 Budget has set for the Commission.

Cross section of participants at the forum
Cross section of participants at the forum

The benefits of the migration to the DTT was also a major point of focus by Eng. Friday Ojone Ukwela, the Director Technology, NBC, who also spoke at the event stressing the need to speed up the process.

Ukwela, who spoke on ‘Utilization of Digital Terrestrial Television broadcasting in the development of the African economy’, said “the slow pace of the digital migration can be seen as a dark cloud hanging over the African TV market.”

While listing the benefits of the migration, he said it will bring about the transmission of better audio and video quality and save spectrum based on the multi-channeling.

The NBC technology chief says that digital migration also has potentials to reduce the transmission energy usage with the implementation of single frequency network, interactive television, better signal processing and propel employment growth across Nigeria.

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Success Kafoi Journalist at Technology Times Media. Mobile: 08077671673 email: success.kafoi@technologytimes.ng

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