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Cameroon digital switchover: A fever that never was

Cameroon’s commitment to the 2006 Geneva Agreement that marked the end of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Regional Radio-communication Conference heralding the development of ‘all-digital’ terrestrial broadcast services for sound and television and which set June 17 as deadline for complete switchover ushered in a new communication dispensation. Public authorities by virtue of this engagement were compelled to ensure that the pubic adhere to the exigencies of the agreement by replacing their hunchback TV receivers with flat screen receivers. This, of course needed a lot of tact, for, many people, in fact, the majority did not seem to understand the difference between analogue and digital. Seminars were organised and guidelines proposed. The new situation sent shockwaves down the spines of traders and many trading in TV sets suspended importation.

Some stepped down prices of old TV receivers. It was really an uphill task for the administration and telecommunication technicians to get the message across. To effectively demonstrate the advantage digital TV would have over the television they have been used to. They were told that the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting will create new distribution networks and expand the potential for wireless innovation and services. The digital dividend accruing from efficiencies in spectrum usage will allow more channels to be carried across fewer airwaves and lead to greater convergence of services. The inherent flexibility offered by digital terrestrial broadcasting will support mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data, making applications, services and information accessible and usable anywhere and at any time. It will open the door to new innovations such as Handheld TV Broadcast (DVB-H) along with High-Definition Television (HDTV) while providing greater bandwidth to existing mobile, fixed and radio navigation services.

What a complex explanation that many ended up not understanding. In fact, those who pretended to, said they prefer to wait and see the difference when it happens. Their hopes were further rekindled when authorities of the national television assured viewers of getting into the new dispensation urging people to acquire flat screens and decoders for better quality images and a package of a multiplicity of TV channels. Today, Cameroonians including those who sacrificed their hunchback TV sets continue to wonder in darkness. The decoders promised viewers are nowhere to be found and there is an apparent blackout as to when things effectively go operational.

The year ended with no iota of information on where things went wrong for the digital TV not to function and not projections for 2016. This delay does not however erase the advantages digital television would bring when it finally goes operational. Pending this period, it is important the population continue to receive information on the disadvantages of not acquiring digital equipment. The ITU has made it clear; countries that refuse to switch will not be able to receive signals from abroad or their own signals will not be able to be transmitted to neighbouring countries because of interferences. But the trouble looming on the country is how soon will digital TV effectively become a reality.

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Cameroon Concord  is an online publication covering and reporting on  local and world news, sports, entertainment, politics, business, and religious news. Serving Cameroonians .



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