Timetable released for digital switchover in Nigeria

Thursday, March 11th, 2021
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Text of The Press Briefing By The Ag. DG NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, On The Occasion Of The Release of Roll Out Time Table For DSO in Nigeria

Ladies and gentlemen of the press it is with great pleasure that we have invited you here to intimate you on the time line for the completion of the Digital switchover process in Nigeria.

Recall that in order to deliver the benefits of digital broadcasting to Nigerians, in line with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) policy on transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and the subsequent Government White Paper on the transition, the Digital Switch Over (DSO) implementation under phase 1, successfully launched in six regions in Nigeria between April 2016 and February 2018 thus: Jos (April 30, 2016), Abuja FCT (December 22nd, 2016), Ilorin (December 20th, 2017), Kaduna (December 22nd, 2017), Enugu (February 12th, 2018) and Osogbo (February 23rd, 2018).

Delivered under the brand name, FreeTV, the DSO in this period has translated to an increasing digital television penetration and better quality television service in Nigeria. Other benefits so far include job creation in the creative and set top box manufacturing and retail sectors; creation of an information outlets for government to reach households in Nigeria and a PushVOD service which provide a secure outlet for Nollywood movie distribution to Nigerians.

As you also know, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on 10th February, 2021 approved the payment of some outstanding indebtedness to stakeholders. This was indeed a new lease for the DSO and signifies some sort of government endorsement and commitment towards completing the process. The Commission believes Investors can now look forward to a potentially active, productive and rewarding landscape.

In preparation for the commencement of phase 2 of the DSO roll out therefore, the Commission has held consultative meetings with stakeholders, discussed the state of preparedness, deployment challenges and the proposed timeline. The Honourable Minister of Information has also gone further to constitute a Ministerial Task team for the DSO to fast track the process. The task team have now approved a mutually agreed time table for the next phase of roll out as follows;

Phase 2 of the Nigeria DSO will commence with roll out in the most populous and commercially viable locations of Lagos, Kano and Rivers states as well as Yobe and Gombe states. This departure from the initial roll out plan of six locations from each geopolitical zone was necessitated by the need to evolve a self-sustaining strategy for the DSO.

The new timetable will therefore be kick started with roll out in Lagos state on 29th of April 2021, Kano state on 3rd June 2021 and Rivers state on 8th July, 2021; on the heels of these states will be switch on of Yobe state on 15th July, 2021 and Gombe state on 12th August 2021.

Following this rollout, the Signal distributors are expected to within the same period complete the installation of additional transmitters and gap fillers to attain 70% to 80% coverage in the existing six locations in Phase 1. That is in FCT, Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu and Osun states.

The first Analogue Switch off (ASO) is therefore slated to take place on 28th May, 2021 in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The remaining phase 1 states of Plateau, Kaduna, Kwara, Enugu and Osun will follow in June, August and September 2021. What this means is that effective from the date of analogue switch off, television broadcast can only be received with the DSO approved set top boxes. Adequate quantity of these boxes will be made available by the Authorized set top box manufacturers for these locations.

A two months period from the release of the DSO time table has been provided for the public to be prepared for the first switch off in Abuja. Analogue switch off for the remaining five locations in phase 1 is expected to be completed before the end of year 2021.

Following the commencement of Phase 2 roll out, with switch on in Lagos, Kano and Rivers states between April and July 2021; some 4 to 5 months period will be allowed before each switch off to allow for adequate public preparedness.

By the end of 1st quarter of 2022, an additional 10 states would have been switched on under phase 2 namely; Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Yobe, Gombe, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Jigawa and Ebonyi states.

Phase 3 switch on commences in December 2021 and ends with final Analogue Switch off (ASO) on 8th December, 2022.

May I also use this opportunity to appeal to state governments, local government authorities and other players in the process to give every necessary support to the DSO as it approaches their respective states knowing the immense benefits it will bring to the local community. State broadcasting services are expected to be fully revamped and digitized to participate in the process. Signal distributors sites may need infrastructural support from states. Authourized set top box manufacturers will also commence distribution of set top boxes to local dealerships and establish service centres nationwide.

It is important to put on record that the progress in the DSO so far, is due to improved synergy among the various stakeholders who have contributed to the actualization of the DSO. They include the Honourable Minister of Information and culture who has provided tenacious leadership; the board, management and staff of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Digiteam Nigeria, Broadcasters, signal distributors, Set top box manufacturers, the DSO platform managers and satellite service providers. We trust that this synergy will be strengthened as we enter the next phase.

The appreciation of the Commission also goes to President Muhammadu Buhari, for the political will to push for the completion of the Digital switchover.

Public awareness is critical for the next phase of the DSO, Channels on the FreeTV platform are expected to dedicate at least 10 minutes of airtime daily to public awareness. We also invite the gentlemen of the press to arise to this responsibility and partner with us in delivering the benefits of digital television and stimulating Nigeria’s digital economy.