The GSMA has projected that the spectrum that would be freed from the migration from analogue to digital television systems by 2015 would triple mobile broadband capacity and lead to 11 million broadband connections in Ghana by 2020.
The world is moving towards phasing out analogue TV sets for digital TV by June 2015, but Ghana is working towards completing the process even a year earlier in 2014.
The completion of the migration from analogue to digital would mean a lot of the spectrum used by TV broadcasters would become free because the digital system enables the use of a small space of spectrum for more channels and better quality pictures.
Director of Spectrum Policy for the GSMA, Africa and Middle East Region, Peter Lyons told journalists if the spectrum is freed, ‘it will yield what we call digital dividend for mobile broadband operators, TV broadcasters, the people of Ghana and for the state as whole.”
This was after a day’s workshop in Accra on how to speed up expansion of quality broadband service in Ghana.
The workshop, jointly organized by the GSMA and the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, discussed telecom industry related taxations, quality of service, IP Exchange and how Ghanaians could maximize the benefits from the spectrum that would be made available for broadband expansion after the migration from analogue to digital TV by 2015.
Mr. Lyon explained that under the digital system the TV stations would be able to broadcast 22 Standard Definition channels or four High Definition (HD) channels on the same 8Mhz frequency on which they currently broadcast only one poor quality channel.
Mr. Lyons said broadband capacity would also triple and lead to at least 11 million mobile broadband connections by 2020, and that would also make it possible for Ghanaians to access quality broadband service with very affordable mobile devices.
“People will be able to use their phones and other affordable mobile devices to connect to the internet and update their facebook account and also watch live video streaming on Youtube and do much more than they are able to do now,” he said.
He said the increased broadband capacity would also create 930,000 jobs and power e-governance, e-health, m-health, LTE (long-term evolution) and particularly education, which is expected to be the killer app from the digital dividend.
“Increased broadband and additional jobs will at current tax levels also lead to an additional GHC200million per year in additional taxes for government and there would be increase in GDP by GHS1.5 billion per annum by 2020,” he added.
Mr. Lyon said it was important for the spectrum to be harmonized with those of other countries so that affordable mobile devices could be used across countries for the same quality of digital and broadband experience.
He urged the National Communication Authority (NCA) to expedite action on the migration saying that “without the release of spectrum in 2015 Ghana would only have 7 million mobile broadband connections by 2020.”
Director of Regulatory Administration at the NCA, Joshua Peprah said efforts are far advanced for Ghana to complete the analogue to digital migration by 2014, a year earlier than the global deadline, adding that there were plans to bring along people who would not be able to afford digital TV sets immediately.
He explained that migration does not mean an instant phasing out of all analogue TV sets, because there is a provision for people to acquire decoders like the MultiTV Digibox to convert digital signals to analogue for them to also watch quality pictures on their TV set.
He said there are plans to bring in affordable decoders when the time comes so majority of Ghanaians could have access to them and also enjoy multiple free to air and paid channels on their analogue TV sets.
Mr. Peprah said government’s policy direction would also favor local manufacture of decoders and that would create more jobs for Ghanaians as well.
In terms of the ensuring Ghana’s spectrum is harmonized with those of other countries for maximum benefit across countries, Mr. Peprah said the NCA is collaborating with their colleagues at the African Telecoms Union (ATU) and at the International Telecoms Union (ITU) in that regard.