Kenya Analog to Digital TV Signal Switch, Are We Ready

December 31st 2012 was a self imposed deadline by the Kenyan government for digital migration, it’s not a real serious issue as the one facing Americans in the name of fiscal cliff, but are we ready? It’s not like you’ll go hungry if you fail to comply neither is it some type of a crime, but folks who can’t go without TV, it’s a real issue. The economy is beyond what you’d call fair especially for average Kenyans and most of us are hoping it’s another bluff from the government considering the expected additional costs; personally, I hope not, we’d rather get over with it than continue talking about it. Unnecessary anxiety brings forth unnecessary issues, I’d be wrong but experience is on my side. First, if your TV doesn’t have a digital tuner, the type you’ll get on LCD panels, a set top box is a must have and currently, it’s not given free. Popular CRT TV’s we have in our homes have analog tuners; a set top box is needed to receive digital signals.

 For a couple of days now, I’ve used set top boxes from top pay TV providers in Kenya, there isn’t one that stands out but I guess we have less choices here, price and channels were my top priorities and clearly StarTimes excelled. Gotv has its strongholds you’d say, but a simple survey at subscribers reveals disturbing user experience. Alternatively, satellite receivers or cable television are the closest options, you’ll get world class channels on providers like Dstv and Zuku, but prices are way above board, that leaves us with StarTimes and Gotv. Analog technology isn’t a match to digital transmission in various ways; currently, only a single signal can be transmitted on a frequency in analog while digital technology can accommodate more signals on a single frequency, the impact is obvious and mostly beneficial to service providers. Signal reception is a major factor; we’ve learnt to adjust our antennas to a particular direction for a clear signal reception varying from channel to channel on analog platform, digital technologies don’t present exactly a similar scenario, you only have to adjust your antennae once as long as you have a decent reception, all channels will be crystal clear.

Beyond the signal clarity and frequency factor, you’ll be able to access channel guides on digital platforms as long it’s a feature from your provider right on the set top box menu. On the other hand, you’ll need to flip through those dailies to know when your favorite show will be aired on the current analog transmission, it’s an additional cost you’d rather avoid unless you get them free or you’re a vendor. Digital transmission is obviously better, but it has its own flaws you’ll need to deal with. Cost is a big factor especially in an economy like ours, TV’s with an inbuilt tuner are way very expensive and set top boxes aren’t cheap either. Unlike on analog platform where you can fail to receive some channels because of poor signal strength but access others with absolute clarity, the entire channel list will be empty on a digital platform in a similar scenario. Digital providers have grouped channels in bouquets with varying costs, it’s a disturbing revelation that free to air channels haven’t been spared either, StarTimes have placed most local channels on their basic bouquet except for Kiss TV which is on the Classic bouquet, both are not free, basic has a monthly subscription fee of Ksh.500 while for the Classic bouquet you’ll part with Ksh.1000. Gotv is no different, they’ve a single bouquet that includes all channels local and international, apparently only KBC has been spared by these providers, you’ll pay to watch the rest of local stations.


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