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Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process

by Abbey Lily
Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process

Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process

Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process

Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process
Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process
ALTHOUGH the country is doing everything possible to meet the June 17, digital switch over (DSO) target, but to avoid the repeat of 2015, when the country failed to migrate like other countries, a call has come the way of Nigeria to tap from the experience of Kenya.
   This call is coming from the Global System for Mobile communications Association (GSMA), which said Kenyan government had a powerful vision that the migration would not only be a vehicle to deliver improved audio-visual content to consumers, but would also more efficiently and effectively utilise spectrum, freeing up the Digital Dividend band for mobile.
   Nigeria missed the June 17, 2015 deadline date set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for countries to migrate due to lack of funds and the political will on the part of the then government in power. As such, the digital dividend spectrum that should have been freed from the broadcasters to the telecoms sector to aid faster roll-out of broadband was not released, this impacted negatively on improved Internet connections and roll out of more digital services in the country.
  However, the process, which is now being supervised by the Minister of Information and  Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, seems to have prospect, as many pilot phases of the process have been carried out in Jos and Abuja, ahead of nationwide target.    
   But the GSMA in a a new report, “Digital Migration Process in Kenya”, which highlight the valuable lessons that can be derived from the country’s experience with its DSO in the last 10 years, provided useful information and guidance to regulators and policymakers from other countries where similar migration processes are ongoing or being planned.
   Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, John Giusti, said for countries that want to connect more of their citizens to the enabling power of mobile technology, making the so-called Digital Dividend spectrum (700/800 MHz band) available is key to expanding coverage.
   “As one of the largest and most diverse economies in East Africa, Kenya is a hub for technology and innovation in the region. One thing the country’s digital television migration shows are that, irrespective of the challenges faced, they can be overcome.”
    According to GSMA, the Digital Dividend is so important because is ideal for reaching more people with mobile broadband, as these lower-frequency bands can cover wider areas with fewer base stations than higher frequencies. This reduces deployment costs and allows operators to provide broader, more affordable coverage, especially in rural areas where connectivity can be a challenge.
   “But it is about more than just rural areas; Digital Dividend spectrum also delivers benefits in urban areas, providing improved indoor coverage as these frequencies can more easily penetrate buildings,” it stated.
   In Kenya, as in other countries, the digital migration process required consideration and implementation of a broad range of issues including policy, the state of the broadcasting market, funding for the migration, public outreach, consumer equipment availability and the inclusion of stakeholders in the planning process.
   According to the GSMA, lessons to be learnt from Kenya’s migration experience include that it started with a well-planned roadmap; the process was transparent; there were industry inputs, choose technical standards with international backing; increase in consumer awareness campaign and only delay the process when absolutely necessary. Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process
   In an interview, Policy Manager Africa, GSMA, Shola Sanni, there’s need to understand that digital migration is a complex process that requires consideration and implementation of a broad range of issues, ranging from policy to market factors, funding and stakeholder engagement.
  Sanni said it is critical for any country undertaking this process to get it right so that the benefits of digital migration can be realised. “That is why the GSMA published the report on Kenya’s digital migration process, which provides useful information and guidance to regulators and policy makers across the continent, which – as in Nigeria – are planning or currently undergoing a similar migration.”
   On how government’s support can turn things around for Nigeria, Sanni said it’s more a case of government support underpinning the entire process from end to end, which should include such things as developing a well-planned roadmap for digital migration with the steps required in the process and clear timelines, seeking and taking into account input from stakeholders, ensuring there is buy-in across the ecosystem and also addressing consumer-side issues like the need for awareness campaigns and the affordability of set-top boxes.
   According to him, it is also critical that the government is careful to make the process as clear, simple and straightforward as possible.
   He revealed that actualising the digital switchover and using Digital Dividend spectrum for mobile broadband will be a massive step forward towards realising full digital inclusion as well as the national objective of achieving the 80 per cent mobile broadband penetration target that the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2012-2018 set for Nigeria.
   “Not meeting the Digital Migration deadline would also expose the country to the risk of having its border areas still transmitting analogue open to new interference constraints which might arise where previously there had been none – emanating from neighbour countries which have successfully completed the digital switchover – and Nigeria would have to accept this interference as well as take steps to ensure that it does not cause any interference to the neighbouring countries where the digital migration has been wholly completed,” he stated.
    According to GSMA, in developing timelines for the process, all stakeholders should understand that adjustments will likely be necessary to address challenges and unanticipated developments. At the same time, multiple timeline adjustments create confusion and lack of certainty for consumers about the digital migration process. Such adjustments should be implemented only when objectively necessary and when their benefits outweigh the increased uncertainty;
   Beside, the body said it is important to seek international harmonisation in order to harness the benefits that come from economies of scale. On the consumer side, the provision of set-top boxes is key, including their affordability and availability. From both the network and consumer perspectives, proper consideration should be given to the digital television deployment capacity in different regions of the country.
. “For the benefit of citizens throughout the world, the Digital Dividend should be allocated and assigned for mobile broadband use in alignment with regionally harmonised band plans as soon as possible. A smooth and efficient digital migration is a key enabler to realising the true benefits of the Digital Dividend,” added Giusti.
Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process
Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process
Nigeria urged to tap from Kenya’s successful digital migration process

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