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Botswana’s telecoms regulator takes swipe at digital broadcasters

Despite having made significant progress in the migration from analogue to digital, Botswana’s broadcasting industry is way off the pace set by global counterparts.

This is according to the country’s industry regulator who criticised operators for their muted response towards the digital opportunity.

The Acting Director Broadcasting and Corporate Communications at the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Masego Jeremiah said: “Television broadcasting in Botswana still must do a lot to get to a level where it can compete on the global stage.”

Jeremiah said that while the regulator had licenced several operators on the DTT platform, they have failed the market. “Regrettably most of those licensees did not do well in the market. Some have discontinued operations, while some remain inactive, something that continues to concern us as a regulator. The market gap remains untapped.”

Jeremiah said despite obvious benefits of digital technology, including more efficient use of frequencies, competition and improved quality of customer experience, the regulator is concerned about low levels of local adoption.

Botswana’s digital terrestrial television switch is based on the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial (ISDB-T) system, originally developed in Japan.

To date three state-owned TV stations have gone live with ISDB-T. One is a 24-hour news channel, the other for sports, entertainment and variety, while the third is reserved for education programmes.

Viewers require set-top boxes to access the digital terrestrial services. To date over 35 000 of these set-top boxes have been distributed and 46 digital terrestrial transmitters rolled out across the country.

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