Nigeria Makes the Switch – Part 2
Diary of a switchover by Steve Chilton
Here at Inview we’ve all been working incredibly hard to bring to life the Digital switchover in Nigeria. Finally all the hard work is beginning to pay off as the service launched in Jos, Platea state, Nigeria on the 30th April 2016 and I was fortunate enough to be in Lagos, Nigeria at the DSO contact centre for the launch weekend.
I’m Steve Chilton, Commercial Manager, Inview, I started my career in Digital TV 15 years ago and during this time have held senior roles in companies such as Top Up TV and ITV Digital, prior to working with Inview and assisting them with the digital switchover in Nigeria.
Whilst in Nigeria I worked alongside other members of the Inview and PayWizard team to help train the 30 strong DSO contact centre team in Lagos. I was asked a few questions on my time in Lagos so here are some of my thoughts and lessons learnt.
What was the atmosphere like over the weekend and who was involved?
The atmosphere was tense yet excited. The 5 days leading up to the launch had been spent finishing off the integration of the Paywizard API’s into the local contact centre (ConSol) systems and then testing them to prove them out. Because of the shorter than usual lead-times we were working too, the final set of API’s didn’t get signed off until around 7pm on the Friday – the night before the launch. On the launch day itself the team of ConSol agents assembled early for a breakfast briefing. Once they’d been briefed and had gone through their scripts and systems training a couple more times we settled down to watch the live feed of the Honourable Minister for Information and Culture’s launch event from Jos. As soon as that event had finished at around 1pm and we knew that the calls from customers would be starting to come through. A buzz started to go around the room and the excitement was tangible as the first few calls started to come in. My over-riding sense was off relief when I could see the first few Set Top Box (STB) registrations start to go through…
What were the challenges in preparing for the switchover launch weekend?
The main challenge was the timescale ConSol had to integrate the Paywizard API’s into its systems, test them and train them out to the agents. Paywizard provided invaluable support by sending two of their senior people over to Lagos to deliver the systems training in the 48 hours running up to switch on and to be on the ground providing hands on practical support and training on the switch on day itself.
What were the challenges during the switchover launch weekend?
Simple things like power outages and connectivity issues at ConSol were a bit of a challenge. We also found ourselves working with the ConSol tech team making small tweaks to the systems that had been set up to improve operational efficiency. The other challenge we encountered early on was the issue of customer’s lack of understanding on how to set decoders up and making sure their antenna were good enough to receive the service. The learnings from the first weekend were invaluable and allowed us to improve the communications in Jos at the point of disbursement of the decoders to improve the overall customer experience. It also helped us identify where Inview needed to make improvements to UI screens and to marketing communications in the boxes to make the customer journey to registering a box easier – all changes that are in the pipeline pending an imminent release.
What went really well over the weekend?
The fact that we managed to get 15 channels, scrambled with Nagra CA, broadcast from a transmitter in Jos with a contact centre and Paywizard systems working in the background to unscramble these boxes when customers called or texted their box ID’s to register.
What were the main requirements to enable the switchover launch weekend?
It was really tough, we had multiple stakeholders all working towards incredibly tight deadlines to deliver a fully functioning end-to-end system. In reality we had around 4-5 weeks from when the Honourable Minister announced the switch on date to launch. It’s a testament to everyone’s hard works and professionalism that we delivered a working system on time.
What services did Inview provide?
15 Free-to-air Nagra encrypted channels. Broadcast from a national head-end in Lagos to be down hauled, encrypted, multiplexed and re-broadcast from a transmitter site in Jos. This was supported by a massive distribution effort to ensure 100k+ decoders were in Jos, with a heavy above the line and below the line marketing campaign across the city. And last, but not least, we put in place the systems, with Paywizard’s help, for customers to register their decoders to then sit back, relax and start enjoying 15 channels in digital quality picture and sound.
Do you think there were any lessons learnt for other regional or city launches?
More time to launch. Having proved the concept in Jos, and proving to ourselves and all other stakeholders that a digital switch on can be achieved in Nigeria, the key lesson learned is – it only works and can only be achieved if all stakeholders are cooperating and moving together in the same direction.
What’s next for Inview and NBC Nigeria?
Oh, just the small matter of rolling out into 36 more states, 23million households and launching a DTH satellite platform – all by summer 2017!!!