Ghana may consider extending the deadline for completion of its digital migration program due to challenges in compliance, Minister-designate for Communications Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said here on Wednesday.
According to her, certain developments in the industry may put a strain on government’s financing of the supporting infrastructure for smooth take-off of the digital migration.
“The original funding proposal for this whole project was the sale of the 4G spectrum but we have been able to sell only one, leaving a funding gap to enable us to provide the power for the masts and other essential needs,” the ministerial nominee told parliament’s appointments committee during her vetting on Wednesday.
Ghana signed onto the Geneva 2006 (GE-06) Agreement of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) establishing the Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting Frequency Plan in the radio frequency bands 174-230 MHz (VHF Band III) and 470-862 MHz (UHF Bands IV&V).
The Agreement provided for a transition period during which the analogue television services and digital services will co-exist before the analogue services are switched off.
The West African country has already missed the June 2016 deadline for the migration from analogue to digital television platform and has therefore fixed a September 21 deadline for the migration.
Government has been distributing free digital set-top boxes to people within the low income brackets in order not to leave any fragment of the population behind in the digital migration.
The minister-designate stressed: “It is important that we stick to the essentials first before we consider the other measures. Subsequent to that, we can look for additional funding for the distribution of the set-top boxes which will enable those who have analogue TV sets watch the new digital technology.”
The transition periods in the Geneva 2006 (GE-06) Agreement of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) establishing the Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting Frequency Plan in the radio frequency bands which Ghana also signed onto were set to end on 17th June 2015 for the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Band and 17th June 2020 for the Very High Frequency (VHF) Band.
Owusu-Ekuful explained that the failure of government to complete the sale of the second 4G spectrum might compel it to extend again the September 2017 deadline for the complete migration from analogue to digital platform.
The nationwide Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network established by government is expected to provide coverage to at least 95 percent of the population as well as carry at least forty (40) standard definition (SD) television program channels in digital format.
The global timeline for all countries to migrate onto the digital platform is 2020. Failure to meet this time period will lead to a complete cut off of defaulting countries. Enditem