Managing Director of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), Valmikki Singh finds it “reckless” and “unprofessional” that Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) Board member, Tony Vieira, is attempting to stymie Guyana’s advancement into the digital technology age. Vieira, in a recent public statement, argued that Guyana “(does) not have to go digital”, referring to the evolution from analogue transmission to digital transmission.
Analogue transmission is a method of conveying voice, data, image, signal, or video information, using a continuous signal varying in amplitude, phase, or another property that is in proportion to a specific characteristic of a variable.
Analogue transmission could mean that the transmission is a transfer of an analogue source signal which uses an analogue modulation method. FM and AM are examples of such a modulation.
Digital transmission, on the other hand, is a literal transfer of data over a point to point (or point to multi-point) transmission medium – such as copper wires, optical fibres, wireless communications media, or storage media. The data that is to be transferred is often represented as an electro-magnetic signal (such as a microwave).
Anchored in the past
Vieira argued that there is “nothing which is written in stone” that says Guyana must go digital and accused the NFMU of planning the change-over without consultation and consideration of how such a radical transformation will affect the poor.
“Are we going to do like Mexico, just go digital and buy US$2 billion worth of TVs for our citizens, a lot of whose television sets cannot receive digital signals and who would have to purchase additional equipment to demodulate the digital signal to analogue form to accommodate the change-over,” he contended.
However, the NFMU asserts that Guyana must embrace digital technology if the country wishes to develop and move forward.
“The television broadcasting sector has been one of the areas that has been benefiting from the rapid advancement in technology. The global transition from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting started several years ago. The developed world and many developing countries have already completed the transition or are actively in the process of the transition,” the NFMU outlined in a letter to the editor, noting that Guyana cannot afford to be left behind.
According to Singh, in this information age, where the limited radio spectrum is increasingly becoming scarcer, efficiency in its use is a key element in the success of a business and ultimately the development of a country. In addition to its technical superiority to analogue TV, Digital TV is inevitable, the regulation body underscored.
The NFMU finds it “unbelievable” that persons are so anchored in the past and unaware of the tremendous benefits of going digital.
“It is unbelievable that in this day and age of computers, tablets, smart-TVs and the Internet, we have to still debate the benefits of digital over analogue,” the NFMU Managing Director posited.
He also criticised the GNBA member for peddling falsehoods regarding the consultation process on the move towards digital transmission.
Singh explained that the Guyana Government was offered and accepted assistance from the International Telecommunication Union (funding was provided by the Republic of Korea) to develop a Roadmap for the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting in Guyana.
He said a National Roadmap Team, comprising representatives of the GNBA, the GNBS, MTIC, GRA, NCN, the Guyana Consumers Association and the NFMU was established in 2013.
Additionally, Singh explained that public consultations, as well as consultations with TV broadcasters on the development of the Roadmap for the transition to Digital terrestrial television were held in July 2013 and January 2014.
This final report was delivered to the NFMU in January 2016, according to the NFMU Managing Director. He said the report was promptly sent to the Public Telecommunications Ministry for discussion and further action.
Further, Singh asserted that the NFMU sent copies of the Roadmap report to the GNBA in February 2016, which were subsequently sent to all Board members in early April 2016.
“In its letter to the GNBA, the NFMU proposed to meet at mutually convenient times to discuss the implications, impact and actions necessary as a result of the imminent transition to DTT (this was also expressed to the Board). To date, there has been no response to NFMU’s request to meet,” the NFMU outlined.
In this regard, the NFMU berated Vieira for holding on to the report for some eight months, but did not even offer a response regarding its contents. “(He) did nothing with it but now states boldly that Guyana does not have to go digital. This is the kind of unprofessionalism and recklessness that will stymie and retard the development of the Broadcasting, Telecom and ICT sectors in Guyana,” the NFMU contended.
Singh expressed that it is unfortunate that Vieira, a prominent GNBA Member, wishes to keep Guyana rooted in the 1980s where technology was limited.