Category Archives: Rants

Uganda’s Digital TV Migration is complete but where’s the EPG Data?

Now that Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says digital TV migration in the country is complete, its time to look at some of the benefits of using Digital TV.

One of the less advertised features of using digital versus Analogue TV is the extra data that comes with the signal. Among this data is the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) or in a lay man’s term – a listing of programmes and shows for each broadcaster with their respective airing times i.e. TV Guide. Forget that listing at the back of Uganda’s leading dailies – By the way, I can’t believe they still do that!

So why the fuss about EPG data? Other than the obvious, which is knowing when your favorite show will be on, EPG data can be used to schedule recordings on some smart devices. Knowing when a TV program will start and end is very central to most video recorder systems. Also, having this data automatically transmitted, takes the burden away from broadcasters from informing their viewers of any programming changes. It irks me every time I see “Coming Up,” “Up Next,” or “Programming guide” on TV.

As of today, the Free-to-Air mux(es) being used by Signet (474/594MHz) are not transmitting any EPG data. Only the Pay-TV providers are sending these data on the non-UCC frequencies.

It is time for Uganda’s TV broadcasters to start feeding EPG information along side their Free-to-Air TV channel streams. This is not an expensive proposition, and is in fact not optional for the Industry. This would be a small step, while we wait for all those extra channels resulting from the freed spectrum.

Uganda’s Digital TV migration has stalled

For nearly a month now, Uganda’s Free-To-Air digital TV signals have been off. After many followers of this project breathed a sigh of relief when the transmission began a couple of months ago, it has once again become clear why the transition to digital TV in Uganda will really be messy.

To date, the testing phase for the greater kampala area has really been nothing short of a gimmick. The channels allotted to free over-the-air broadcasters have been intermittent, and when off, no communication has been provided. Also, there’s no publicly available schedule – just press statements from officials.

Most perplexing is the fact that the body in charge of migration i.e. Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has been running adverts on local media announcing Digital TV and its benefits. Even, for someone who understands what digital TV is all about, I find these ads very unhelpful considering that they’s really no concrete migration schedule or ‘call to action.’ Also, why advertise at this point if no test or pilot program is even available. All I see that the adverts are doing is simply creating anxiety as opposed to informing the public.

I would like to suggest the following to UCC:

A signal test period with start and end dates be advertised to the public. This can be done on website, social media, and the local papers.

Notify the public when the channels are switched off such as during maintenance, upgrades etc

Furthermore, there ought to be a forum where TV owners and especially early adopters can provide feedback on TV quality signals etc. The current web pages on the UCC’s website on Digital TV migration do not provide any updates whatsoever.

Also, there’s currently no recommended manufacturer list of DVB-T2 converters that TV owners should buy. How about outlets where these tuners can be purchased? I know there are the pay TV providers, but that is not enough.

In summary, I highly recommend that UCC come out with regular updates on TV migration. Where exactly are we? The deadline date is really too close for such a venture!

OK, I know with all the issues being experienced with procurement, politics etc this may be too much to ask of Uganda Communications Commission to do.

But come on guys, Ugandans deserve better, and they would want to know what exactly is going on with this important project. If you have issues tell us, we understand the environment!