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Haiti Television – Is Digital TV a reality for us or do we need to replace Conatel?

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The world has gone digital. The majority of countries on this planet have already converted or almost completed the conversion from analog to digital TV. It is a topic that is now only of historic interest as it is old news, but yet here in Haiti we still do not even the basic infrastructure to have this technology. For many years, Conatel has been bragging about the benefits of digital TV and how Haitians will benefit from the better quality images, wider range of TV programs, access to new services like interactive technology, better sound and high definition pictures- but all this has been empty talk with no action.

 

The transition from analog TV to digital TV was a requirement of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which has set a deadline of 17 June 2015, to complete the transition. However, like most things that Conatel does, this deadline has no meaning and it will be missed. So far, Conatel executives and its hired guns have come up with every type of possible but pathetic explanations as to why nothing has been done for the past 3 years.

 

The digital switch over has been completed or is nearing completion even in countries that have fewer resources than Haiti. There is no word when the conversion from analog to digital TV will occur, but Conatel as always keeps promising and offering new deadlines.

 

It was in 2012, that Conatel had a major news announcement about conversion from analog digital TV and yet 3 years later in 2015, we have not even started to lay the basic ground work. At that time, Conatel had all the big wigs come to conference, which was moderated by the International Association Francophone Solidarity for Digital. The conference discussed how this new digital revolution in Haiti would allow for better TV programs for Haitians. At the meeting were policy makers, telecommunication operators, media association, and broadcasters. The conference discussed issues like the technical aspects of transition; legal and regulatory issues; problem of financing for the transition; economic scenarios and ITU initiatives on the digital transition. Even a report was completed as to how this digital revolution was completed in two very poor African countries like Guinea and Niger.

 

 

At the conference, the usual Conatel fanfare and razzmatazz was the showcase but it had no substance. In his speech, Jean Marie Guillaume, Director General of CONATEL, spoke a lot about the digital revolution and how it has affected modern society. All the attendees got to consume gallons of coffee, taste expensive exotic food and a variety of desserts- meanwhile three years later- we have a big ZERO to show for all their efforts.

 

After the meeting, the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL), as part of its awareness campaign on the transition from analogue to digital television in Haiti, went on a country wide tour to assess the geography of the country. Much was made of this nationally conducted tour, which traveled from Cap Haitien to Gonaives, Saint-Marc and Jacmel.

The principal aim of the tour was to acquaint and inform operators of television, state officials and the public about the digital revolution that was taking place. Much of the talk was more hogwash of what was presented at the conference in 2012. The nation was told that they should be prepared for conversion from analog to digital TV and how this would radically change their lives. Again, more money was spent on dining and chatting in expensive hotels but nothing ever came of the tour.

 

 

What should be shocking to the average Haitian is that even countries as poor as Haiti in Africa now have converted to digital TV and so far Conatel has not responded as to why there has been such a prolonged delay. All over Haiti, after the earthquake new innovations and startup in digital technology were taking place. We had the first solar hospital, our schools, public places and even the streets had access to FREE fresh water thanks to solar technology from Denver, Colorado. New roads were built, new schools were erected, kerosene stoves were being replaced and Haitians even started to mass produce Androids. But it seems that Conatel does not have a clue as to how to convert analog to Digital TV. When asked questions about the delays, the same answer is given by Conatel-we are not the cause of the delay but the system! No one knows what that means but it has been a typical answer from Conatel whenever it botches up. We now have several options left as Haitians- if Conatel is unable to do to the job and they should come out and say so and then offer it to someone more competent. Or we just accept the fact that we Haitians are stuck with analog TV because we have a telecommunications system which is totally inept.

 

The world is moving away from Haiti when it comes to telecommunications but not because Haitians do not want Digital TV, it is simply because of people who run our telecommunication sector. Haiti has undergone many digital improvements in the last few years and most have been for the betterment of the country-perhaps it is time that we see a change in how things are running in the telecommunication sector by replacing incompetent and inept leaders.

 

 

Henry Beaucejour

Haititechnews

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