Guyana prepares to go digital

…as broadcasters are urged to move away from analogue systems

Broadcasters in Guyana are being streamlined to embrace the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting. Towards the end of 2020, Guyana should at least begin the transition process in keeping with international standards.

Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes

Owners of television stations and broadcasters were on Friday taken through the roadmap to this process, when they gathered at the Police Training Centre, Camp Street, Georgetown. Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes, under whose Ministry the workshop fell, reminded that technology was moving at an alarmingly fast rate the world over. However, Guyana has been somewhat slow to embrace these changes.

“The reality is in today’s world we either prepare or change, or we will be left behind,” she warned.

In Guyana, the broadcasting system remains in analogue mode, while many parts of the world have already transitioned to digital terrestrial television. Hughes said whether it was embraced or not, the reality is unless Guyana begins manufacturing its own equipment, it will be left behind.

“So there’s no question about how we have to move or the direction we have to move in. The issue is how can we plan for it? How can we discuss the changes maybe in business models in technology? And how can we move toward a unified

Participants at the workshop on Friday at the Police Training Centre

sector forward?

According to the Minister, the close-off date for the transition in many parts of the world is 2020, leaving just three years for Guyana to come up to speed. She said the transition has already begun in the developed countries and has even caught on in neighbouring Suriname. She, therefore, urged the movers and shakers of the broadcasting sector to become aggressively involved.

Going through the roadmap which was developed a few years ago, Managing Director of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), Valmiki Singh explored what was happening globally. The United Nations Agency for Information and Communication Technology has established some guidelines for the transition and had even offered its assistance to many developing countries, including Guyana, to develop their roadmap.

The project is funded by the Republic of Korea and had initially included a number of meetings with the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU) among others. The roadmap, he explained, has three stages: preparation, development and implementation. Two of these stages have already been completed.

“We really are at the stage of implementation… we have a document on our hands and we need to get moving with implementation,” Singh said, continuing that before this could even come into effect, the understanding of broadcasters needed to be raised.

According to Singh, while the switch-off time from analogue is set around the world for 2020, the earlier it is done in Guyana, the better.

“We don’t manufacture equipment and if we want to prolong this, we may very well have to do that, because at some point in time, the manufacturers of this equipment will stop making this equipment and will stop putting the analogue tuners in the television sets,” he said.