The Liberia Telecommunications Authority will host a strategic steering committee meeting on Digital Migration today which will expedite the process for how the nation will move away from the analogue platform for transmitting television signals to a digital platform which will bring better quality video and audio across the nation.
The migration is part of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) mandate which states that all countries must complete the process by June 17, 2015. It will require as much as US$35,000.000 by some estimates to pay for the infrastructural changes for the nation’s sole broadcaster the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) in Paynesville.
Television owners however, will not have to buy new T.V.’s if their old ones are not digital. What will happen is that a small unit called a Set Top Box (STB) will be distributed at an affordable price which will sit on top of analog televisions and will convert the digital incoming signal to analog for viewers to watch television.
It is important that the public not to be persuaded to purchase new analog televisions during these months leading up to the migration because they will still be on the market at very low prices. In fact the fear is that if we do not migrate by the June 17, 2015 deadline Liberia will become a dumping ground for analog equipment from those nations which have migrated.
The advantages clearly outweigh the present analogue provisions which use up far more frequency space to broadcast than the new digital system. “We will have the capabilities to have far more channels available for our national audience than what we have now” LTA Chairperson Angelique Weeks explained, “Our spectrum is a scarce resource and Digital Migration will permit us to make better use of it.”
The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications heads the national effort and will put together the migration policy, the regulations will be drawn up by the LTA, and then there will be extensive stakeholder input and public awareness about what to expect. Today’s meeting will help prioritize how we go forward despite the setbacks from the Ebola epidemic. The sector is determined to stay on course.