Communications Authority sets date for rollout of digital radio technology

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) will roll out a pilot for a new digital radio standard before December next year as it moves to address the shortage of analogue frequencies which it says are close to saturation.

The Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) framework, whose preliminary implementation will feature Nairobi and its environs, will enable broadcasters to use their current spectrum to transmit signals.

DSB is a high-definition radio transmission network that converts analogue audio into a digital signal.

In a presentation outlining the road map for the shift execution, the CA says the pilot targets minimising implementation risks before confirming investor commitments as well as to raise awareness.

“Planning and implementation of DSB trial network in Nairobi and environs including funding, objectives, authorisation, terms and conditions, commissioning, installation and monitoring has a timeline schedule of between March 2023 and December 2024,” reads the document in part.

The regulator had in November called for public views on a draft DSB structure with the comments being validated in February this year.

In the unveiled game plan then, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) was to be given priority after the setup of the first national Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) network by reserving capacity for the State broadcaster to transmit radio services and to launch new ones.

The new digital network will be an add-on technology to existing analogue frequencies as opposed to a replacement, the CA has said.

The regulator will issue two categories of licences, one to DSB signal distributors and the other to digital broadcast content service providers.

Among the advantages of the technology is a wider coverage, new business opportunities, and suppression of entry barriers. It also promises improved audio quality and content diversity while the government will reap increased revenue.

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