More often than not, what comes to mind when people think of digital pay-television is its expensive nature. To a great extent, GOtv has changed that notion in Nigeria, where it brings family entertainment and information to millions of homes at ridiculously pocket-friendly prices, essentially becoming a lifestyle choice and transforming the national pay-TV landscape.
GOtv Nigeria is not only affordable, but also widely available. Presently, Nigerians can access the service in over 50 cities across 26 states, which makes it by far the widest nationwide digital terrestrial television (DTT) network coverage, despite not being the first operator to launch in the country.
Achieving this is no mean feat, especially when one considers the challenge of Nigeria’s notoriously acute infrastructural deficit which by itself is enough to discourage any potential investor. But GOtv, launched by Details Nigeria in October 2011, has shown confidence in the local broadcast industry.
That is demonstrable in the fact that in a decade, it has spent well over $100 million/N48 billion on investments in broadcast technology and infrastructure in the country, which oustrips those of licensed signal carriers and has significantly contributed to the nation’s economy.
GOtv has been the foremost figure in pushing Nigeria’s drive towards migration from analog to digital transmission after the government joined a host of other countries in signing up to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) agreement of 2006.
The company has since worked closely with the government and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in providing affordable digital television for everyone through unmatched investments in modern broadcast infrastructure.
In line with Nigeria’s aspirations to get on the digital broadcasting train, GOtv at inception rolled out the DVB-T2 decoder, a second-generation technology platform approved by the ITU as the standard for digital television broadcasting.
The DVB-T2 technology allows for up to 20 channels per frequency, compared to DVB-T1 technology, an outdated system that only allows for 12 channels per frequency and was widely used by first movers in the digital migration.
It also delivers a vastly superior digital audio-visual quality, a higher number of channels, access to Free-to-Air after subscription expiry, and prevents signal depreciation in adverse weather conditions.
So with the launch of GOtv came a dramatic improvement on the dividend of terrestrial frequencies available to Nigeria when DVB-T2 was deployed. The company was the first Nigerian DTT provider to offer its service on the modern technology, which is one of the most advanced broadcast systems and infrastructure established in Africa and globally.
For Nigerians, it meant access to a premium digital audio-visual quality and enhanced viewing experience at extremely cheap rates. And for Nigeria, that effectively put the country at the forefront of technology on the global digitalisation map.
Over the years, GOtv has continued to invest heavily in the latest technology in digital television, especially on its transmission technology, which it has consistently improved upon.
Notable among investments made in infrastructure was the building of 73 transmitter sites between 2011 and 2015 at a cost of $95.5 million, to provide DTT coverage for over 50 percent of Nigeria’s population.
As the coverage increases, so does the need for similar significantly large investments to maintain the transmitter sites in peak condition for effective transmission. GOtv has not been shy to spend in that regard too. Between 2014 and 2018, more than N8 billion was expended on the maintenance of transmitter sites.
In 2014 alone, N572.2 million was spent and the sum rose consecutively in the following years – to N1.39 billion in 2015; N1.9 billion in 2016; N2.033 billion in 2017; and N2.28 billion in 2018. It is vital to note that the huge sums invested in the provision and maintenance of broadcast infrastructure are exclusive of what was invested in bringing digital broadcasting to Nigeria.
These investments by GOtv in the local broadcast infrastructure and the expansion of its network coverage have come as the government-driven digital switchover programme (DSO) progresses in fits and starts. The country has missed several deadlines since the digitisation process took off in 2008, mainly because of inadequate funds.
Meanwhile, the two signal carriers licensed by the government to spread DTT coverage across the country have not functioned optimally. Set up about five years ago, they have been unable to provide nationwide coverage due to lack of finance and technical capacity.
The sub-par infrastructure provided by the carriers has led to endless complaints by Nigerians in most states where the switchover programme has been launched. Among those who have bought the device recommended by the National Broadcasting Commision (NBC) as its digital transition vehicle, there have been issues such as partial or total lack of reception, which sometimes lasts for several months, as well as service availability limited to the state capitals.
While the heavy investments by GOtv have been crucial in helping the company beat topographical hindrances that most DTT operators face and ensure subscriber access in several cities across the country, they rarely occur without a ripple effect on national development and the impact has been massive, in terms of improving lives and job creation.
At the heart of it all is a commitment to stimulate the national digitisation process, boost the government’s efforts towards national socio-economic development and impact millions of lives, as GOtv puts pay-TV services at the disposal of as many households as possible that wish to migrate into the digital age.
Business Insider Africa