The federal government has launched Digital Switch-Over (DSO), a switch from analog television to digital television, in Lagos State.
The event, which held on Thursday, at Ikeja, Lagos, marked the beginning of the second phase of the rollout of DSO across the federation.
The first phase of DSO rollout held in Jos, Abuja, Ilorin, Kaduna, Enugu, and Osogbo between April 2016 and February 2018.
The DSO, which was delivered with the brand name ‘FreeTV,’ signifies the transition from analog to digital television across the country.
Speaking at the Lagos DSO launch on Thursday, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, said it took the DSO train over three years to arrive in Lagos State.
He said the success of the project was made possible through the collaboration of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Digiteam, Broadcast Signal Distributors, Set-Top-Box Manufacturers, the Middleware providers -Inview and Renmore -, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON),creative content producers and members of the Ministerial Task
Force on DSO, which he chairs.
The signals distributors for FreeTV across the country are the Integrated Television Services (ITS) and Pinnacle,.
“I want to congratulate ITS for making the digital switch-on of Lagos State possible.
“The switch-on of Lagos is unique and epochal, because it marks the first time that the DSO project would be beaming 60 choice channels to television households. This is not by accident. Lagos is Nigerians creative hub, hence it is important to harness the creative talents that abound in the state through this project.
“Also, the DSO provides us with a great platform to key into the Lagos Smart City Project, which seeks to use technology to enhance service delivery in all spheres of life. The DSO is not just about high fidelity sound and picture, it is about creating jobs, especially for our teeming youth, stimulating local content, and empowering channel owners,” the minister said.
Mr. Mohammed said the DSO project will enhance the Lagos Smart City Project while revolutionising television viewing for the more than 5 million TV households in the state.
He added that about one million jobs to be created by the DSO project in the next three years will come from Lagos.
“Though it took the digital television train over three years to arrive in Lagos State, from its last stop in Osun State, the train is now ready to move faster. The DSO train has now changed from narrow gauge to standard gauge, meaning it will move faster to cover 13 states across the country this year alone in the second phase of the DSO rollout, which begins today,” the minister said.
Mr. Mohammed disclosed that DSO will launch in Kano State on June 3rd; Rivers on July 8th; Yobe on July 15th; Gombe on August 12th; Imo on August 24th; Akwa Ibom on August 31st; Oyo on September 9th; Jigawa on September 23rd; Ebonyi on October 17th; Katsina on October 21st; Anambra on November 4th, and Delta on November 18th.
“This may look like a daunting task. Indeed, it is. But the fact that we are here in Lagos today is a testimony to our resilience and determination to ensure the success of the transition from analog to digital television across the country,” he said.
The DSO offers viewers about 60 digital channels, including sports, music, movies, and news, it also provides Value Added Services.
Mr. Mohammed said the launch of DSO shows the power and the extensive reach of modern broadcasting, which makes it a veritable tool for national development.
He said there are over one million Set-Top-Boxes ready to be released to households.
A set-top box is a device that enables a television set to receive and decode digital broadcasts.
“Once a TV household acquires the Set-Top-Box and pays the once-a-year access fee, which is a token, it’s free viewing all the way. Our FreeTV brand is not a fluke. There is no monthly subscription payment.
“This enables millions of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay the rising subscription fees being charged by the Pay TV platforms to enjoy the benefit of digital television, ” he said.
Also speaking at the launch, Armstrong Idachaba, the director general of the National Broadcasting Commission, said the Nigerian government made a huge financial commitment to ensure the success of the project.
He said with the launch of the DSO, a set-top box is all that Lagosians need to enjoy over 30 digital television services, subscription-free.
“With this rollout in Lagos, a projected five million Lagosians are instantly going to access digital television services not only for broadcasting but with converged opportunities to Telecom and other ancillary services.
“Jobs will be created for creatives and Engineers and technicians, small scale business activities are going to be stimulated around the proposition, sale of boxes, installations, content production and the like,” he said.
Mr Idachaba said the NBC has licensed over 140 Digital Terrestrial Television Channels cutting across national, regional, and local channels.
“We expect therefore that Lagos will quickly scale up to some 60 channels, within the next few weeks. I am sure that the Lagos state government will also now explore the information outlet on the box to reach citizens,” he said.
The NBC boss said within six months, analog broadcasting will be switched off in Lagos, and all households need to purchase the set-top box to view channels.