Telecommunications stakeholders of the Liberian Government, last week, held a policy validation workshop under the auspices of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications in Monrovia.
During the workshop, the telecommunications stakeholders expressed the greatest hope that Liberia will meet the deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union or ITU for migration from analogue to digital transmission broadcast for television by June 17, 2015.
Digital Migration is the transfer from analogue to digital transmission of television signals.
The ITU had given analogue stations operating between channels 1 through 12 in the UHF Bandwidth five years to migrate and completely phase out, and that stations operating outside such channels will not be protected from the increasing probability of frequency interference.
According to the Liberia Telecommunications Authority or LTA, Liberia falls in Region One of the International Telecommunications Union Network, adopting what is referred to as the Digital Video Broadcast Terrestial Version 2 (DVBT V2)- a category within which all ECOWAS Member States fall.
The immediate advantages of this mandatory change, according to the LTA, is that digital transmission takes up less bandwidth than analogue, making available more channels, sharper video images, multiple viewing of different channels at the same time, as well as the opportunity for the development of local contents, referring to the availability of more bandwidth due to the relinquishing of analogue transmission space as the digital dividend. Such dividend can be used for future broadband mobile applications generating much needed government revenue.
This is why, as Liberia and the rest of the world move towards the June 17, 2015 deadline set by the ITU to migrate from analogue to digital transmission broadcast for television, the LTA continues to urge buyers of new televisions in Liberia to be cautious of vendors selling ‘soon-to-be obsolete’ televisions at very low prices.
“Analogue televisions can be flat screen; they are not the same as digital just because they appear the same”, said an LTA statement issued in Monrovia quoting Chairperson Angelique Weeks.
“Consumers need to make sure they buy televisions, which are digital ready by checking the specifications at the back and stay away from analogue models, which are being phased out,” the statement warned.
While the LTA has also assured that analogue television users will not be left out of the new multi-channel options, and that they will require, however, a decoder or what is called a set top box to receive digitally transmitted programming after June 17, 2015, it is also important to heed to the warning when attempting to purchase TV sets.
Even though the foregoing effort by the LTA is well-meaning and appreciatiable, the need to go beyond cannot be over-emphasized. The LTA needs to create more awareness in the media-radio, TV and newspapers, with the hope of adequately sensitizing consumers. Such sensitization, especially on radio and television must also be done in the various Liberian dialects- and this is something that must be done now ahead of June 17, 2015.