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Tbilisi flood hampers Georgia’s plan to ‘go digital’

Today is the day Georgia is supposed to switch to digital broadcasting but this will not happen.

Officials announced the digital switch will now take place on July 1, in light of the severe flood that hit capital Tbilisi on June 13.

Georgia’s Economy Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who is responsible for the digitalization process in Georgia, explained the country was ready to go digital but it would be better to do this when the country was not in “such a stressed situation”.

An agreement between the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Union (EU) determined all European countries needed to switch from the existing analogue to digital broadcasting in 2015.

According to this agreement, Georgia had to go digital before its June 17 deadline.

Kvirikashvili said the digitalization process had been completed and the country was ready to switch to digital but Saturday’s natural disaster had hampered the process.

“The infrastructure was created and the country was ready to go digital. However we decided to not cause additional discomfort for the population who are stressed now because of the natural disaster,” he said.

“Let’s wait two weeks to let the country recover from this situation and finish the digitalization process in a more peaceful situation,” said the Minister.

Georgia’s efforts to go digital will begin in capital Tbilisi. From here in a step-by-step process, digital signals will be distributed all over the country until the end of 2015. Using this infrastructure Georgia will be switched to the DVB – T2 (Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial second generation).

Households around the country must purchase a special top-box for about 50-100 GEL to be able to receive digital signals. If households do not have a top-box by July 1, 2015 (the new deadline) when the analogue signal will be cut off, they will no longer be able to receive a television signal.