The digital dividend, the reason broadcasters have to move from analogue to digital terrestrial television, will be released to telecommunications operators on a province-by-province basis, communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said in parliament.
Speaking on the occasion of her department’s budget vote on Tuesday, Ndabeni-Abrahams said the plan is to free up the spectrum as quickly as possible.
“The spectrum will be released in a phased provincial manner across the country towards our goal of end of March 2022. This process, combined with the digital-to-digital migration, will make available a total of 168MHz spectrum in each of the provinces,” the minister said.
Digital-to-digital migration, also known as digital restacking, is a process that has to happen after analogue switch-off where digital channels are moved out of the digital dividend bands of 700MHz and 800MHz.
“We are working with the TV broadcasting industry to ensure that the target of March 2022 is realised,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
She decried the delay to communications regulator Icasa’s planned spectrum auction, saying the lawsuits from Telkom and MTN have derailed the process, which should have been concluded in March.
“The current litigation on spectrum auction and licensing of the wholesale open-access network hampers our determination to rebuild our economy. We have and continue to implore parties involved, including the regulator, to find an amicable solution to the ongoing impasse. I believe that it is within the industry’s ability to find an out-of-court dispute resolution mechanism and avert the delays and stagnating economic impact.” — (c) 2021 NewsCentral Media