The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has announced that Kenyan broadcasters will be allowed to adopt a new digital radio standard, enabling them to use their current spectrum to transmit their signals through a digital network as the regulator moves to address the shortage of analogue frequencies.
The sector’s regulator has called for stakeholder and public views on a draft Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) framework it has formulated to ensure the efficient use of the available broadcasting spectrum and encourage investment in the sub-sector.
In a statement, the regulator, CA, said, “The objective of this consultation is to develop a suitable framework for Digital Sound Broadcasting in Kenya to address the challenge of high demand and low availability for analogue FM broadcasting frequencies that are currently being experienced.”
According to the regulator, the DSB refers to a high-definition radio transmission network that converts analogue audio into a digital signal for conveyance to an assigned channel in the FM frequency range.
In the draft proposals published on the regulator’s website recently, the CA says the DSB network will act as an add-on technology to FM radio as opposed to a replacement, clarifying that there will be no switch-off date set for the AM or FM radio.
The draft in part reads, “Development of DSB will have an objective of substantially increasing the range and diversity of radio services available to listeners including providing for new digital-only services and enabling existing AM and FM radio services to simulcast on the DAB+ network.”
The regulator said Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) will be given priority after the first national DAB multiplex network setup by having sufficient capacity reserved for the State broadcaster to simulcast all of its national radio services and to launch new ones.
CA notes that the inaugural trial of the DAB network service will be in Nairobi with transmitters located in Limuru and Machakos sites to test coverage, reception quality and data services.
“The trial DAB+ network service is estimated to cover an area of 9,176 kilometres squared with a population of 9,329,253, representing 17 per cent of the population of Kenya. The trial will help build local capacity and raise awareness of DAB+ network services in the country,” said CA.