Last week the Zimbabwe government through the ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services called on all Zimbabwean editors in Chinhoyi to discuss the national migration to digital broadcasting ahead of the International Telecommunications Union 2015 deadline.
While we commend the deputy minister, Hon Supa Mandiwanzira in speeding up the long overdue process which was announced years ago, the last 7 months should be spent focusing on the relevant digital technology to Zimbabweans.
By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Unfortunately, for ZBC, it is a reality that most people have lost confidence in it as a public broadcaster with millions of Zimbabweans completely shunning it, preferring the Over The Air transmission via satellite stations.
It Is reality that even Zimbabwean companies have been frustrated by the regulator to an extent that they ended up settling for satellite transmission as the Broadcasting authority of Zimbabwe has unnecessarily delayed or frustrated the issuing of licences to local players.
Churches and local broadcasters have created a huge following on satellite channels. In solidarity with the move, Zimbabwean enterprises are now advertising on the satellite TV stations. This is what the government is supposed to be worried about. The battle has been shifted to spectrum debates but the whole platform has changed and government is just but a little too late now to be offering the spectrum.
Hon Mandiwanzira said that “As a ministry, we are in the process of ensuring that we raise sufficient resources to give to Transmedia which is building a network of digital transmitters so that we are ready for 2015,” he said.
“As a result of the migration, one frequency will translate into 20 new TV channels. We have four frequencies, which means we can have up to 80 TV channels.”
Deputy Minister Mandiwanzira said there was no doubt Zimbabwe would have more television stations next year, with the licensing of other players by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe underway.
“The Broadcasting Authority is right now working on the framework on how do we licence, do we licence per channel or per multiplex as ZBC will be licenced per multiplex,” he said.
He said those interested in establishing television channels should prepare adequately to apply for a license.
No doubt it’s a good move to finally open the airwaves to various players as there are many applicants applying for the channels but is this what the digital migration is all about.
We could have been fascinated by the removal of the “Wasted space” of 900-1500ghz frequency which is being used by the TV stations and give that to more digital solutions like LTE or 4g technology.
The nation has failed to implement 4g technology because beaming in high frequencies will demand that the operators install many base stations since the frequency range is too far and will not broadcast over a long distance.
Forgive me to say that it would make sense to completely remove the now defunct ZBC or TV stations from that spectrum and offer the spectrum to the digital movement opening space for emerging technologies.
The white space can be used to allow local Internet Service providers to transmit data at very low costs thus catching up on the 2015 digital migration the digital way. We have the spectrums, how to allocate them should resonate well with the digital evolution.
Transmedia needs $30million to implement the digital migration, it would be a complete waste of national resources if we do not consider the entry of Internet Protocol (IP) in the market as a force to equally accord proper spectrums.