HARARE,– Zimbabwe has signed a three-year contract with French-based satellite provider Eutelsat Communications to help build the country’s digital terrestrial television (DTT) capacity, with the system expected to launch in the first quarter next year.
The capacity will be used to deliver twelve free-to-view channels to a nationwide network of 48 DTT transmitters, affording viewers improved image quality and a broader choice of television programming.
Zimbabwe is still using analogue television signal after missing last year’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) June 17 deadline to migrate to digital.
DTT allows for the transmission of numerous channels, using the same amount of spectrum used to transmit a single analogue TV channel. It can also support interactive services, high-definition (HDTV) and mobile TV.
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) Chief executive Obert Muganyura, said in a statement on Tuesday the partnership will accelerate digital transition of Zimbabwe’s national broadcasting network which was initiated in 2011.
“Access to EUTELSAT 3B will transform our country into a nationwide provider of digital broadcast services. With this Eutelsat partnership and our project partners, the stage is set for Zimbabwe to accelerate the transition from analogue to digital TV in order to deliver improved service to viewers nationwide,” he said.
Michel Azibert, Eutelsat’s chief commercial and development officer said the deal is set to expand Eutelsat’s presence in Africa as the continent migrates towards digital.
“This contract with the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe marks a first step in our involvement in Zimbabwe’s digitisation process and reflects the increasing contribution of satellite to rapid and efficient digital transition,” Azibert said.
Zimbabwe’s authorities have said they will be in a position to licence more players to bring competition to a sector where the state-owned broadcaster runs the country’s sole state television channel.