What is the digital switchover and what are the implications?

This is when the traditional analogue television signal you have been receiving will be switched off and replaced by a new, stronger digital signal. The due date for the start of digital migration is November 2015 in Plateau region. If you do not have a decoder installed by the time analogue is switched off your television will not work.



What is the difference between terrestrial and satellite television?

There are two different ways that a TV signal is broadcast. Terrestrial, or over the air, television uses a network of transmission towers on the ground to send broadcast signals around the country. Signals sent can be either analogue (like radio waves) or digital (encoded information). You receive the broadcast service via an antenna (usually on your roof or on top of your TV set). Satellite television uses satellites in the sky to send broadcast signals to our homes via a satellite dish. A single satellite can cover a large area.



What is a set-top box?

This is the only new piece of equipment you need to buy. The decoder device converts digital signals into images that can be shown on your TV set. While your antenna can receive the new signal, you need the decoder to decode it into a video signal so that the picture can appear on your TV set. It plugs straight into your TV set and, despite its name, it can sit on top, underneath or next to your television. Once the switchover process of transferring television services from an old analogue to a new digital network happens, you won’t be able to view television without a decoder. It is sometimes called a decoder or a digital set-top-box, but it is not the same as other satellite or terrestrial pay-tv decoders or set top boxes.



How do I get a set-top box and how much will it cost me?

Decoders and set-top-boxes are available from most electrical distributors and retailers. The decoder or set-top-box will cost N1,500 and includes the 1st year’s Digital TV Pass, currently worth N1,000 in the price.



How do I get digital TV? Do I need to buy a new television set?

No, you can use your existing set to watch digital television; provided it is plugged into a decoder or set-top-box. This box plugs directly into the TV via the antenna socket (RF input) or the audio and video inputs. It receives the digital signal and translates it into images and sounds that you can see on your TV set. If you do not install a decoder, your TV will stop working once the government switches off the analogue signal. Televisions with built-in or integrated decoders (known as idTVs) are starting to be manufactured, but they aren’t available yet in most African countries.



Will I have to pay extra to watch digital TV?

No. Free-to-air programming will still be available after the switchover. As long as you have the right decoder or set-top-box you will be able to watch television as before. Pay TV will also be delivered digitally, so you can choose to subscribe to be able to take advantage of what’s on offer.



My TV is very old. Will it still work?

Almost all TVs will work with a decoder or set-top-box. But some older sets may not have an audio-video input. You will need to buy a decoder that has a built-in UHF modulator, or buy an extra modulating adaptor to connect to your TV.



Do I need a special antenna to receive DTT?

No, you don’t need a special antenna to receive DDT. But you may need to upgrade your existing antenna if it is old or have your existing antenna to be re-positioned by an expert.



I have three TV sets, how many decoders do I need?

More than one TV can be connected to a decoder or set-top-box, but all the TVs will show the same programme. This is because you use the decoder to change channels. So if you want each of your TV sets to show a different channel, you will have to buy a decoder for each of the sets.



If I have more than one set-top box, do I need more antennas?

You don’t need more than one antenna to receive a signal. So no matter how many televisions or decoders you have, you only need one antenna.



What if I have a satellite dish?

If you subscribe to satellite television, such as DStv, then you will not be affected by the change as your service is already running on digital via the satellite dish and decoder. A free-to-view satellite service will be launching in Nigeria soon. You will need to buy a free-to-view satellite decoder or set-top-box and connect it your existing satellite dish to receive the service. If you would like to receive the digital terrestrial television service and free-to-air channels, then you will need a decoder as well as an antenna to receive the signal.



Can I install my set-top box myself?

Yes. The decoder or set-top-box is a “plug-and-play” device, which makes it very easy to start using. You’ll get a quick start guide and a user’s manual with the decoder, but it is easy to install: simply connect the cable from the TV antenna to the decoder, and then follow the installation menu.



Will I still be able to use my VCR or DVD recorder?

Once your television is receiving digital TV from a decoder, your VCR or DVD recorder will be able to record it. But if you want to watch one channel while recording another, you are going to have to buy another decoder for your recorder.