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Kenyan rural dwellers embrace digital TV broadcasting

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyans in rural areas have fully embraced digital TV, giving a huge boost to the east African nation’s migration to digital broadcasting.

The uptake of digital broadcasting services in upcountry regions has cast away initial fears that residents would be left behind as the country transited.

Rural residents have not only bought digital set-top boxes to make the switch, but also TV with inbuilt digital gadgets, which are now widely available across the country.

In rural Kenya, the number of citizens enjoying digital broadcasting rose from less than 1 million in 2015 to 5 million in June this year, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) said in its latest report.

In 2015, CA had a three-phase timetable to migrate Kenyans to digital broadcasting.

The first phase covered Nairobi and its environs was implemented on Jan. 1. The second phase targeted bigger towns outside the capital, which included Mombasa, Malindi, Kisii, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Kakamega, and was implemented at the end of February.

The last phase, implemented at the end of March, covered the rural areas, with CA giving residents more time citing low incomes and lack of availability of set-top boxes.

“I bought the set-top box in early 2016 and have been enjoying digital TV since then,” Peter Afulo, a resident of Budalangi in Busia, which borders Uganda, said over the phone on Wednesday.

The gadget cost him 40 U.S. dollars, nearly doubled the cost in Nairobi.

“I had no choice because I had stayed for months without TV,” said the fisherman.

“I am now happy because it was a worthy investment. I now watch all TV stations, local and even those from Uganda.”

According to him, several people in the village have similarly embraced the free-to-air set-top boxes, some even went for pay TV.

Total digital TV subscriptions in Kenya stood at 4.96 million till the end of June, up from 4.57 million in March.

A majority of subscribers, 3.81 million, are using set-top boxes known as digital terrestrial television (DTT), while the rest have subscribed to cable, internet and home satellite TV, according to CA.

DTT remains the preferred option in Kenya because of affordability of subscription services, with set-top boxes now going for an average of 25 U.S. dollars while one can subscribe to pay TV services from as low as 2.5 dollars a month.

Another factor in particular is spread of broadcasting signal.

Analysts said that increased awareness in rural areas on digital migration has helped to raise the uptake.

“People in rural areas now know that they need a set-top box to watch TV, including my grandmother. This is good awareness, unlike in 2015 when the government switched off the signal, some did not even know what had happened,” said Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solution in Nairobi. 



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