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Frequently Asked Questions

Set Top Boxes

What is a set-top-box?

It’s a receiver that decodes or converts the digital signal to analogue to enable the channels to be displayed on your analogue TV set. This set-top box is connected to your TV set. The DTT set-top box (also referred to as a decoder or converter box) is however not the same as the existing satellite or terrestrial-based pay TV service decoders. Analogue television sets cannot display digital transmissions on their screens without being connected to such a set-top box converter.

What does a set top box do?

A set top box, when connected to an analogue television set, converts digital signals thereby giving viewers ability to watch these programmes on their ordinary TV sets. Some set top boxes may also provide viewers with datacasting services and video, audio and data enhancements. Set top boxes capable of receiving and displaying a HDTV signal may not be available initially. Set top boxes can provide a picture output to either analogue or digital screen displays.

Where can I buy a set top box? How much does one cost?

See the list of type approved set top boxes and addresses of authorized dealers whom you may call for information on cost of the STBs and their outlets.

Do I need an outdoor aerial for my set-top box to receive digital signals?

Yes. You need a UHF aerial facing Limuru for those in Nairobi and its environs.

If I have two TV sets, can I connect my set-top box so that each receives its own digital TV channel?

No. You cannot use one set-top box to receive more than one program at a time.

Can my set-top box receive DSTV programmes?

No. The set-top box cannot receive satellite transmission like DSTV.

Can I view both DSTV programs and Digital signals on the same TV set?

Yes, but not at the same time.

Can I use my DSTV dish to receive digital transmission?

No. DSTV dish can only receive satellite transmission. You need a UHF aerial to receive terrestrial transmission.

How do I connect my set-top box to the TV set if my TV does not have AV terminals?

Before buying a set-top box you need to know what type of inputs your TV supports so that you know the type of set-top box to buy.

How many TV channels can I receive with my set-top box?

During the current phase you will be able to receive 12 FTA mainly local and some international channels on the KBC/SIGNET signal. They are upgraded to 20. The Pay Content Providers – Gotv has 40 channels while StarTimes has 70 channels.

Do I need to pay monthly subscriptions with my set-top box to watch programmes?

No. You don't have to pay monthly subscriptions to watch Free-to-Air programs.

I have connected my set-top box but I can only receive sound and a picture that freezes then disappears what could be the problem?

The signal you are receiving is very low. You may need to improve your aerial system by boosting the signal.

I have connected my set-top box to the TV set as recommended but there is no signal at all!

  • Ensure there is communication between your set-top box and the TV set by selecting the AV mode
  • Ensure that your outdoor aerial is well connected
  • Ensure both the TV set and the set-top box are powered
  • If everything is OK, you might be out of the coverage area

Can my plasma digital screen receive the digital signal without the set-top box?

No, unless the plasma is an integrated TV receiver (has an inbuilt digital decoder.)

If I have an integrated TV set or a set-top box from say America or Japan will it work with the platform?

If it is a DVB-T standard, it will work with the platform but if it is the American standard of ATSC or Japanese standard of ISDB-T, it will not work.

Does the government plan to waive import duty on set top boxes to make them more affordable

During the last budget for Financial Year 2012/2013, the Minister for Finance Zero rated taxes on digital set top boxes the result of which is that importers and retailers will considerably lower retail prices making the gadgets affordable to many consumers in Kenya.

Is there a compensation plan for the traders or consumers who purchased the old DVB-T set-top-boxes?

No. There’s no compensation plan.

Does CCK or Digital Kenya Secretariat provide support to type-approved STB vendors in their marketing and awareness campaigns?

CCK only licences vendors and type approves their set top boxes for sale in the market. CCK also encourages them to educate consumers on issues of proper installation.

Does Test Question?

CCK only licences vendors and type approves their set top boxes for sale in the market. CCK also encourages them to educate consumers on issues of proper installation.

end faq

Digital Migration Process and Timelines

Why must Kenya migrate?

The Regional Radio communication Conference (RRC) meeting of 2006, in a treaty, set 17th June 2015 as the deadline for all countries to migrate to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting. It is, therefore, a mandatory for countries. Digital broadcasting will result in more efficient use of the spectrum hence more valuable spectrum can be released and used for other services. The rest of the world is migrating to digital broadcasting and analogue broadcasting will not be protected from interference after 2015.

What is the deadline for digital migration in Kenya?

Kenya launched digital broadcasting in December 2009 with a 3-year simulcast period and an analogue switch off deadline of June 2012 which has since been revised to a phased switch off starting in Nairobi in December 2012.

Must I wait until the deadline to switch to digital TV?

No. You do not need to wait until the deadline for the switch off of analogue TV transmissions. If you are in an area that is currently covered by the digital signal (like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyeri and their environs), all you need is to purchase a DVBT-2 MPEG 4 set top box which you will connect to your existing analogue TV. This set top box will therefore enable you to receive digital broadcast on your existing TV using your existing UHF aerial. 2012 was set as the analogue switchover date. This means that broadcasters will shut down their analogue TV transmitters and only digital TV signal will be available. In that case, if by then you will not have acquired a set top box or an integrated digital TV, you will then not be able to receive digital TV service.

What is the current DVB-T2 signal coverage in the country?

The signal is “live” in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyeri and their environs). The Broadcast Signal Distributors – SIGNET and Pan African Network Group (PANG) project 70 per cent coverage of the population by December 2012.

Who are the signal distributors in Kenya?

There are two signal distributors licensed by the Communications Commission of Kenya:

  • Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC TV) through its subsidiary SIGNET is currently rolling out the signal countrywide starting in Nairobi.
  • Pan Africa Network Group’s DVB-T2 signal is also up and running in Nairobi and hopes to have countrywide coverage soon.

Are the local broadcasters currently on the digital platform?

Yes. The local broadcasters are on board the digital platform.

end faq

Digital Migration Technology

What is the difference between analogue TV and Digital TV?

Analogue and digital television differ in the way the information is carried from the source to the receiver. In other words, in analogue broadcasting the signal is in the form of a continuous wave, whereas digital is in the form of discrete bits of information.

In digital, the signal is encoded and can be compressed to allow for more channels to be broadcast. For instance eight (8) new Standard Definition TV (SDTV) programmes can be provided in the same frequency channel as one analogue TV channel.

What do I need to migrate to digital TV broadcasting?

  • An integrated Digital Television together with a UHF aerial or,
  • An analogue TV set together with a DVBT-2 MPEG 4 set top box and a UHF aerial.

What are the advantages of Digital Broadcasting?

Digital television is a far more efficient and flexible transmission system than the current analogue system. It allows broadcasters to offer viewers a range of new and different services. Digital television features can include:

  • Better quality picture and sound information;
  • Much improved reception capability, including the elimination of ghosting and other transmission errors.
  • Flexibility to simultaneously accommodate high definition and standard definition channels, mobile TV and digital audio.
  • Improved security to prevent unauthorized persons from receiving services
  • Electronic Program Guides (EPGs). A basic EPG can be used by viewers to navigate between channels, identify the currently screening programme and the next programmme ('now and next') on each channel. More sophisticated EPGs can be used to set reminders for program viewing, provide a short synopsis of the content of programs, identify programming in advance for several days, search for programs by genre, and provide access to some enhancements.
  • Program enhancements on separate channels to the primary program, e.g., additional camera angles on a sports match, statistics about a player, or additional information about a segment in a lifestyle or magazine program.
  • Broadcasters will be allowed to broadcast more than one channel when certain events, such as sporting matches, extend beyond time due to circumstances beyond the broadcasters' control, and overlap a regularly scheduled news program. This will allow viewers the option of continuing to watch the end of the event or the news bulletin.
  • Interactive television services and data casting services, including selected Internet services, home shopping, computer games, etc will be provided by broadcasters and data casters.

Will I need to buy a new TV to receive digital signal?

No, you do not need to buy a new TV if you already have an analogue TV. However, you will need to buy a digital set top box that complies with DVB-T2 and MPEG 4 standard and format. Current TV sets should be able to receive DTT using set-top boxes. You can use either the audio and video inputs (A/V), of your TV or alternatively you can use the RF input so that your set-to box can be plugged into your TV. With this, you should be able to use your current TV set.

What is an integrated digital TV?

This is a television set which contains all the components necessary to receive and display digital transmissions. Integrated digital television receivers will generally be distinguished by wide screens, high quality sound capability and high resolution screen displays. They do not require a set top box as this is inbuilt (integrated) in the TV set.

What is DVB-T2?

DVB-T2 is an abbreviation for Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial Second Generation. The new, more efficient, transmission system developed to meet the demands of the future of digital broadcasting and to allow for the launch of new services.

 It is the enhancement of the television standard DVB-T, used for the digital TV broadcast transmission. This system transmits compressed digital audio, video, and other data .With higher bit rate offered, compared to  its predecessor DVB-T, it is a suitable system for carrying more  SDTV, HDTV, mobile TV and other multimedia signals on the terrestrial TV channel

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