Nigeria Makes the Switch
Analogue Switch off starts in Jos, Nigeria and we were there!
Spirits are flying high here at Paywizard, as we’ve been hard at work over the last few months working on an analogue to digital switchover project alongside our partner Inview and client NBC in Nigeria. Finally, all that hard work has begun to payoff, as some of our fabulous team have recently returned from an exciting few days in Nigeria, training staff in using our subscription, billing and CRM platform, Paywizard Agile.
We successfully launched in Jos, Platea state, Nigeria on the 30th April 2016, with 75,000 boxes available for locals in the Jos area and this is just the start of the journey with over 300,000 boxes being delivered across Nigeria before the end of the year this is the start of a big switchover!
Paywizard expert, Rachel Easterby was on the ground in Lagos, Nigeria at the DSO contact centre for the launch weekend and offers her insights into how it went, what we learned and what’s next.
While in Nigeria, Inview did their set top box training while Paywizard conducted their Agile software training. We worked with a 30 strong DSO contact centre Team in Lagos 10 phones in shifts and they all needed to be trained. In the beginning, there was some concern about the volumes of potential calls to activate the set top boxes – there were 75k boxes to be circulated! However we were able to quell their worries by only doing a bit at a time, so that in the end, we weren’t so overwhelmed.
The local contact centre (ConSol) had a web page built that linked via API’s to the Agile platform, which made the whole training and process slicker and easier. We had an amazing team that were focused and full of energy, training them on Agile and the web page was fairly straightforward.
A major obstacle across Nigeria is Internet connection and power outage issues, it’s not uncommon to experience power outages 6-7 times a day so lucky for us our technologies are adaptable to work even under challenging infrastructure condition
Technology on-site was also important so the team could be shown the user experience – with set top boxes onsite in the ConSol centre allowed everyone to see first-hand, the actual experience the users would have. This is something we would always recommend; test, test and test again so everyone helping has experienced for themselves how the technology works.
What we learned
Size matters – In the UK, we all knew for years that the digital switchover was coming. However, in Nigeria, everyone knew the switchover was coming but not all the details until the last minute. Groups of people were hired to ‘town swarm’ and help build up the excitement and provide information of where locals could go and collect their set top boxes from. Communication is key and needs to be planned well in advance to built up hype for the switchover and in a country as large as Nigeria there is a huge potential for businesses and individuals with more than 200 million households affected by the switch.
Infrastructure is key – In any switchover to digital television, connectivity can be a major issue. Air conditioning, which is used throughout most African homes, is actually a device that can interfere with your TV signal. These are regional infrastructure issues that can easily manifest into major digital TV switchover problems and must be taken into account during the planning phase of every region’s changeover to digital TV.
Support is crucial – Switching from analogue to digital is not an option it has to happen otherwise you loose all your TV connection. Therefore, if the technology doesn’t work, it’s imperative to understand why. We’ve found that it’s often most likely caused by location of the transmitter and area that this covers. In Nigeria, there was no transmitter coverage map, which ideally, should have been provided by a third party in order to show how good the signal is or is not, in an effort to pinpoint any non-viewing issues and quickly figure out the cause.
Another obstacle we faced was reports of technical issues from people who had a TV, box and signal but could not see/view anything. This was due to connectivity and ensuring that the signal was passed to the box once activated in a timely manner however signals could be affected by power cuts or even due to the heat and tropical climate along with thunderstorms that affected the signal. This was something that hadn’t been planned for. Paywizard provided support from the UK’s digital switchover where we were able to use our previous experience and even with a vastly different climate we could provide information to help with the issue at hand – to combat this for future regional switchovers we are ensuring everyone have to hand relevant information and that viewers have FAQ information to help them if needed. Being aware of these climate implications is important as you can only influence the end result rather than the actual weather!
Paywizard provided the software on the ASO boxes provided by Inview. Agile software gave the opportunity to use voucher payments. In the first year, the voucher is incorporated into the box so when someone turns on their TV, they see a pop-up screen along with the code and instructions to start viewing digital channels.
Moving forward, this opens up opportunities for a phase two, allowing viewers to purchase a voucher for cash value in exchange for movies and other content. The flexibility is that there is a voucher and not just a card. We will continue to provide support via the Paywizard service desk, which will reduce overtime as they get more familiar with the technology. Inview is providing management to move the project forward.
It was a great experience being involved in this kick off weekend in Jos and I will be able to use this learning for future DTT clients. Congratulations to all those involved in the NBC digital TV switchover project over the last few months, it has so far been a smashing success and I look forward to seeing what happens next!