Ex-adviser trashes Muthambi's TV policy - TechCentral

Ex-adviser trashes Muthambi’s TV policy

Roy Kruger

Roy Kruger

Digital migration expert and former ministerial technical adviser Roy Kruger says the final changes to the broadcasting digital migration policy, published on Wednesday, entrench the dominance of pay-television provider MultiChoice and short-change South Africans in other ways.

The previous adviser to former communications ministers Yunus Carrim and Dina Pule, who was responsible for overseeing the digital migration project at the former department of communications (now telecommunications & postal services), says the verification system adopted by the new communications department under minister Faith Muthambi is the most basic system available. It doesn’t allow government to meet its goal of protecting South African electronics manufacturers and providing e-government services.

Government’s final policy states that set-top boxes will have a control system to prevent subsidised units from functioning outside South Africa. But it firmly rules out the use of encryption or conditional access in these boxes.

Kruger believes the debate around encryption is a red herring and that government has been shortsighted in the latest policy changes.

“The set-top box is a computer and you can buy messaging, conditional access or encryption software for each. Sentech, for example, has a full-blown conditional access system with encryption. All signals transmitted by Sentech go via satellite and are all encrypted. Only when it gets to a remote station is it decrypted.”

The problem, according to Kruger, is that there is no secure “bootloader” on the system to prevent malicious software from being downloaded. A hacker can get into the system, remove the verification code and then the box could be used anywhere in the world.

Set-top boxes subsidised by government will be delivered to Post Office warehouses in their tens of thousands, Kruger says. If just one lot of boxes were to be stolen, it would prove to be a windfall for criminals.

The other problem, he says, is that the verification code is only going to operate on subsidised set-top boxes, according to the amended policy.

“There are still a potential 8m households that will need set-top boxes. Hackers will be able to figure out the code and ensure that it operates in cheaper boxes from overseas and so the imperative of protecting the local industry would be missed.”

Government’s stated aim of providing e-government services over the boxes will also not be supported by the verification system. Kruger says group messaging and mass messaging are not supported.  — © 2015 NewsCentral Media

80 Comments

  1. Government is supporting Multichoice?

    “The Sunday Times today reveals that the deal – signed on 3 July 2013 by SABC’s Acting Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Acting Chief Financial Officer Christian Olivier and MultiChoice’s CEO: Pay TV Platfortms Eben Greyling – prohibits the public broadcaster from making any of its channels available on any platform that uses access controls.

    We also need to know why a deal of this magnitude was not signed by the SABC’s Group Chief Operating Officer Ms Lulama Mokhobo, and whether the terms of the deal had interim board approval before it was signed.”

  2. Adil Nchabeleng on

    “Long stroll to freedom and economic liberation”…

    Roy thank you for the most sober and clear view on Encryption. When we spoke in support of encryption as (Namec founders) we got labelled, i am glad that you added a conscious voice to this debate. I pity South Africans for been mislead, this policy mess-up are going to haunt us in years to come. National socio-economic loss at the expense of who??? the masses in a country were over 70% of the youth (black & white) are unemployed in dire needs for opportunoties. And we kill the last bastion of hope. Young SA’s are brilliant and creative. Give them jobs. And we deny them hope. Encryption is the way to go… to solve our economic challenges, inequality, unemployment and eradicate poverty.

    South Africa 1st …

    We need radical economic Transformation now…

  3. Abdul Thompson on

    good read Roy,

    Either or, both paths show tremendous challenges but economic assessments and growth areas is needed in an technological challenged environment. All is needed to shift South Africans into the 21st century while being lead by even our “underdeveloped” neighbors “ICT policy”vsWorld Ranking.

    CA–should be encapsulated encryption to proprietor devices secured and branded by the supplier.
    -the device should be enabled to be monitored as a node on registration on air

    No CA — yes demands an influx of foreign reversed engineered devices but do we have a policy that prohibit that even from any content provider perspective
    ………

  4. Eric Martinsich on

    Roy Kruger

    is the same adviser that said that Telkom only requires a third of their workforce going forward. now that is what is happening

  5. Deon Labuschagne on

    Government is so stupid it does not know its nose from its arse! Typical .

  6. Andrew Fraser on

    I’m starting to understand why this process has taken so long when this is the kind of information provided by ministerial advisors.

    Roy, your argument about the secure bootloader is built on a false premise:
    1. No imported STBs will require the control system. It is not necessary to hack an imported box to work. It is a wasted effort, STBs that conform to international DVB-T2 standards will work without any box hacking. The control system is there to disable boxes to control export of subsidised boxes.
    2. Criminals will likely look for easier pickings than STBs to steal and re-export. The labour required to unpack and reprogram the units, not to mention the logistic costs involved, simply makes the process uneconomic – No point in stealing a decoder which will sell for the same or more than a chinese imported one.
    3. Government has had 8 years to define e-government services. So far under Ivy, Roy, Dina, Siyabonga and Faith, none of these has been defined. I think that whining about it now is a bit late.

    Flawed as they are, what Muthambi’s regulations have provided is a possibility of actually implementing this project in a reasonable amount of time. For all her faults (and they appear to be many), no other Minister in the past 8 years can say that. And that includes the ministers that Roy advised.

  7. Andrew Fraser on

    Um no. Poverty and economic growth are not predicated on how additional taxes can be distributed. Economic growth is created with the addition of value.

  8. Hansom Stanford on

    As mentioned before, Nigeria (who’s enterprising citizens notoriously find creative ways to crack things), have opted for a robust STB Control system for their DTT migration, which includes encryption and a unified platform using Inview, to offer the latest digital benefits to its citizens, including OTT capability. See below from their official NBC Facebook page:

    “In Nigeria, Inview will:
    * Serve as a service provider.
    * They will be in charge of collecting the annual digital content access fee needed to activate your set top box.
    * Provide EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)
    * Provide Conditional Access Systems (CAS)
    * And also collaborate with MTS Communications Limited, consortium of Nigerian Broadcasters, in the provision of Freeview/Free Satellite DTT service in Nigeria.”

    Nigeria is way ahead of the rest of Africa, including South Africa. This policy protects their electronics manufacturing sector, offers broadcasters (old and new) horizontal and vertical opportunities, and provide their citizens with a platform which will offer more than just digital to analogue conversion (improved linear services, VOD, OTT).

  9. Minister Faith Muthambi should learn from real case studies. South Africa is far behind the rest. Conditional Access has a lot of positives. The cost of soft CA is small. The benefits huge.

  10. “Criminals will likely look for easier pickings than STBs to steal and re-export. The labour required to unpack and reprogram the units, not to mention the logistic costs involved, simply makes the process uneconomic”

    Not true – criminals could get thousands – maybe hundred of thousands – of these government boxes FREE of charge, hack it and resell it. They do have their networks in place. With ZERO cost to the box itself they can afford unpacking, hacking and distribution. They save the input costs of the box itself.

  11. Thanks, AF, it will take very, very long time and enormous concerted efforts to give the economically clueless, left leaning characters in Gov, unions and so many of their followers a proper understanding how the REAL global economy works and sustainable jobs and wealth can be created.
    Not by taxing the productive side of the economy to support the noncompetitive industries and sectors through massively inefficient, money wasting, bureaucratic Government incentive schemes, import duties and quota.

  12. CharlieTango on

    Not protecting local manufacturers is how the once burgeoning textile industry in the Western Cape was destroyed by short-sighted policies. If we keep importing products we will never see economic growth in SA. Irrespective of whether the imported products are cheaper – we have to take a long term view and protect our own industries and IP.

  13. Greg Mahlknecht on

    Oh come on… the theft angle is a red herring. It’s a government branded decoder – wherever it’s sold in the world, it’s 100% known to be stolen goods. And remember – these decoders are only an interim measure, they’re really just a dtt-to-analog converter – all new TVs all around the world come with that built in for free! In a few years as people’s TVs die and they get new ones, most the STBs will be doorstops or landfill with zero value anyway.

    And where do these hundreds of thousands of FREE decoders come from, or do you mean they steal them? Why go to all that effort when you could knock off a Hirsch’s warehouse and steal far more high value less traceable goods that don’t need high tech facilities to re-flash them.

    It’s such a huge effort, niche market item for thieves.

  14. Wrong. It is far easier with inside jobs. No break ins. Just wait for the contractor to deliver a truck load at your warehouse. We read about these inside jobs everyday.
    Who is interested in Hirsch’s high value stuff if you can get truck loads delivered to your doorstep?

  15. Greg Mahlknecht on

    Doesn’t the same “inside jobs” argument hold true for every single company and every single type of goods. What makes STB’s special and more susceptible to this kind of problem?

  16. Greg Mahlknecht on

    EVERYONE agrees that CA is an absolute necessity – the problem is it shouldn’t be sponsored by government, it’s something the private sector should take care of itself.

    You do realize that government mandated CA in their boxes would probably kill companies like OpenView? Shame. What have they done to deserve that? Do you like killing jobs? 🙂

  17. Greg Mahlknecht on

    Then they should stop killing it through awful legislation and utter incompetence in the SOEs.

    The number of potential jobs created by DTT is totally inconsequential compared to the number of potential jobs killed by BEE, Eskom incompetence, Telkom failures, etc.

    Total FUD put out by the STB makers who want some sweet sweet gravy train money.

  18. Greg Mahlknecht on

    > Encryption is the way to go… to solve our economic challenges, inequality, unemployment and eradicate poverty.

    Just how many jobs do you think this is going to create?! Wow. Nothing’s going to be CREATED here, they’re just going to import cheap Chinese decoders, flash the firmware and squirt it out the other side of the production line. While you might object to the idea, doing any more than that is just wasting taxpayer money in a desperate attempt to create jobs at any cost. There are millions of LEGITIMATE jobs the government could create where the money is far better spent.

  19. If it was that easy why does it not happen with DSTV decoders with conditional access? Can you buy any hacked DSTV decoder today?
    Conditional access is good to protect hardware as well as content.
    Government should stop the import of cheap Chinese set top boxes to be flashed and used in SA.
    Job creation is crucial for SA. Jobs to be created: putting boxes together, packaging, distribution, installation and even some new premium content producers in SA.

  20. This time you are 100% correct. Inside jobs are well known in your words “every single company”. So the clever thing is to use conditional access to fool proof government set top boxes exactly the way DSTV is protecting theirs.

  21. SABC does not belong to the private sector? Government should be forward thinking in planning for many new TV channels with premium content. OpenView should be available on these new channels as well.

  22. Greg Mahlknecht on

    Seriously, these STB’s are a temporary measure and of low value. They’re not going to be a big target.

  23. Greg Mahlknecht on

    DSTV uses Irdeto2 (owned by Naspers), which is in my research, the only encryption that remains uncracked to this day. If the government were to use Naspers’ encryption it’d be MORE conspiracy theory fuel.

    > Job creation is crucial for SA

    There’s a right way of job creation and a wrong way.
    Right way: Create an environment for job creation through good tax laws, stable electricity, great telecoms
    Bad way: Invent an unnecessary widget and make sure only locals can be employed to make it.

  24. Andrew Fraser on

    So we should base our system on what criminals may do if they steal these devices in bulk? Do you realise how stupid that sounds?

    There is no way that any self-respecting criminal will bother with these boxes. There are far easier ways to make money.

  25. These boxes are first and foremost made for SABC. SABC can only benefit from conditional access. Premium content attracts more viewers. More viewers attract more adverts.
    Multichoice scores big with subscription fees plus adverts.
    Go for conditional access for a win win situation.

  26. Andrew Fraser on

    To be fair, the casing and packaging will probably be produced in South Africa. The boards will be imported in SKD form and they’ll be assembled by semi-skilled people.

  27. 100,000 stolen set top boxes at R100-00 profit = R10,000,000. Not too shabby for an inside job?

  28. Greg,
    As all your other posts, you show much knowledge of the Multichoice systems and technologies.
    Entrenching the monopoly of Multichoice serves only a few and it seems like you are one of them…

    The governments BDM policy has two main STATED objectives:

    1. Protect the governments investment
    2. Protect and promote the local electronics manufacturing industry.

    The new amendments repeat these statements and at the same time call for the elimination of the only proven protection available in the market today.

    The local manufacturing industry has been asking for years to include conditional access and encryption as a mandatory requirement and had repeatedly specified the advantages such system has. Yet, these industry experts, whose livelihood is at stake and are meant to be protected by this policy, have been completely ignored for no legit reason.

    How many millions did Multichoice pay the NOT honorable minister Muthambi (who had ignored the public protectors comments on the raw deal between SABC and Multichoice) is the only unknown in this saga… Maybe you can supply us the answer to this question?…

  29. If assembling of knock-down units can create jobs why not? We have to do something to reduce jobless people breaking into our houses. Job creation is a priority.
    Add to this jobs for logistics, installation, repairs, etc.

  30. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>How many millions did Multichoice pay the NOT honorable minister Muthambi

    With the stalemate that has been delaying this process, the decision in the end was always going to result in some parties being unhappy.

    A calculated decision as to which option presented the greater risk to government in the the event of a legal battle was probably the deciding factor rather than your insinuation of bribery.

    If etv has its aspirations and mission set on broadcasting then there are plenty of reasons to find which makes the policy also work for them… however, if they are in the business of court battles then by the time this one is over they will not exist but we will still have government.

    With the situation as it was the only sensible thing for the government was to brace for battle with the weakest link and let the country move forward with the freeing up of spectrum.

    So to answer your question… niks, nothing, zip, nada, lutho, f-all, not a cent.

  31. Tender calls for PCB population – SKD would be illegal (although no doubt will be bypassed by some Tenderpreneers)…

    The local electronics manufacturing industry, which also invest heavily in R&D (believe it or not), were the ones who were supposed to be promoted by this project. Instead, some have already closed their doors and the rest are on their way.

    How many jobs lost – thousands! How many could have been created – thousands more…

    Very sad day for SA!

  32. >> the only sensible thing for the government was to brace for battle with the weakest link

    This is the only part I agree with you on, Vusumuzi, only that it wasn’t sensible… The government ceretnly did not choose the right option, but followed what Multichoice wanted and what would benefit Multichoice only. Not the government, not the public and certainly not the local industry and our economy.

    Whether Multichoice assisted this decision to be made by handing out monies or benefits (some flagged and published already in the media – e.g. the deal with NAMEC leader Keith Thabo that was lobbying the removal of conditional access) – unless you are the CFO of Multichoice, you are not in a position to dismiss this highly likely theory, considering the stakeholders involved and the amount of money we are talking about!!

  33. Greg Mahlknecht on

    You can get a cheap STB like this for less than R100 in china. If they have R10 to R20 resell value as stolen goods (remember they’re clearly identifiable as a stolen product), I’d be surprised.

  34. Greg Mahlknecht on

    >Entrenching the monopoly of Multichoice serves only a few and it seems like you are one of them…

    Sorry to disappoint you, but I have no horse in this race.

    >The governments BDM policy has two main STATED objectives

    You’re working from the false assumption that it’s a good policy. Anything that creates a market for the sake of creating jobs is a bad idea, period. There are good ways of creating jobs – building and maintaining roads; building out and maintaining our terrestrial telecomms infrastructure to name just two, which are needed FAR more than CA.

    > The local manufacturing industry has been asking for years to include conditional access and encryption

    And why are these guys above suspiscion? They’re basically tenderpreneurs, I would think they’d be FAR more likely to do bakchanded stuff than Multichoice, who everyone’s watching. If Multichoice has paid the minister (which I doubt) then one must assume that the local manufacturers did too, but were just out-bribed by Multichoice.

  35. Greg Mahlknecht on

    >in the end was always going to result in some parties being unhappy

    Exactly this. And whoever lost was going to accuse the other side of paying the minister off.

    The STB manufacturers have FAR more incentive to play dirty than Multichoice.

    > brace for battle with the weakest link

    I don’t agree Multichoice is the weakest link here, government now has to fight against all the unhappy BEE companies who can moan about how many jobs are lost.

  36. Greg Mahlknecht on

    2 problems with your argument.

    1. These CA STB’s will still have to be created. If the knock-down units are a viable business, then the same jobs will be created anyway, just not paid for by taxpayers this time.

    2. “jobs for logistics, installation, repairs” will be created regardless – the same number of STB units have to get to the same people and be maintained. Those jobs have to be made regardless of government’s involvement – so why get them involved? They’ll just screw it up and funnel the money to struggle buddies.

  37. It is a government project!! Why can’t you just admit that it is a gov project? That’s it! Simple and easy. Gov is the only entity to drive the 5 million sponsored boxes.

  38. The Sunday Times today reveals that the deal – signed on 3 July 2013 by SABC’s Acting Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Acting Chief Financial Officer Christian Olivier and MultiChoice’s CEO: Pay TV Platfortms Eben Greyling – prohibits the public broadcaster from making any of its channels available on any platform that uses access controls.

    We also need to know why a deal of this magnitude was not signed by the SABC’s Group Chief Operating Officer Ms Lulama Mokhobo, and whether the terms of the deal had interim board approval before it was signed.

    I understand that these conditions for the 24-hour news and entertainment channels were not put before the previous SABC board. We need to know how thoroughly the interim board understood the far-reaching consequences of this agreement and how thoroughly they interrogated the business case.

    This deal severely jeopardises the government’s set-top box (STB) local manufacturing policy which was designed to boost the local electronics industry and, supposedly, create thousands of jobs.

    Minister Carrim needs to explain whether the SABC had government approval to sign this deal that contradicts government’s years-long insistence that STBs have access control systems to, in the main, grow and protect the local electronics manufacturing industry.

    About 36 companies submitted responses last September to the Department of Communications’ request for proposals for the manufacturing of STBs with access control systems. The announcement of the successful manufacturers was put on hold earlier this year when former minister Dina Pule announced that the DTT policy was being reviewed. There has been no known progress on this revision.

    I have been told by a number of companies that submitted STB manufacturing proposals that they have had no invitation to meet Minister Carrim to discuss the crisis, but they have received a request from the Department of Communications to ‘extend our tender price until 14 October 2013’.

  39. The Sunday Times today reveals that the deal – signed on 3 July 2013 by SABC’s Acting Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Acting Chief Financial Officer Christian Olivier and MultiChoice’s CEO: Pay TV Platfortms Eben Greyling – prohibits the public broadcaster from making any of its channels available on any platform that uses access controls.

    We also need to know why a deal of this magnitude was not signed by the SABC’s Group Chief Operating Officer Ms Lulama Mokhobo, and whether the terms of the deal had interim board approval before it was signed.

    I understand that these conditions for the 24-hour news and entertainment channels were not put before the previous SABC board. We need to know how thoroughly the interim board understood the far-reaching consequences of this agreement and how thoroughly they interrogated the business case.

    This deal severely jeopardises the government’s set-top box (STB) local manufacturing policy which was designed to boost the local electronics industry and, supposedly, create thousands of jobs.

  40. Greg Mahlknecht on

    Of course it’s a government project! That’s the whole problem with it!

  41. Andrew Fraser on

    Except that it won’t be R100 profit. They’ll not make any profit. Because it’ll cost R200 per unit it to reflash and smuggle. And it’ll be marked as stolen. And you can buy a chinese box for less than R200.

    And 100 000 pieces? Do you have any conception how much inventory that is? It’s enough to fill a 25m swimming pool.

  42. Abdul Thompson on

    The scenario, Job creationVsjob loss

    It can never be,

    Establish a standards committee SA (we have enough people with ieee credits of compliance awaiting the opportunity ) —
    —why are the best leaving SA?
    —We need to start hosting standards development and contribute
    —-we need to start living in our own shoes and stop letting go of talent to go

    The likes of equipment failing to operate because of type LOL look at the base (standard, coding and plugin). look at transport mediums.

    stop anticipating political rights over money but rather look at empowering the transition to a new competitive edge to drive GDP pushing for economic placement and world class ranking.

    Everyone will still be making money in a more competitive environment.

  43. I hear that it would cost the government $1.50 per box to provide a STB with a full Software based CA. This is what it will take for Government to achieve its stated aims of protecting its investment of providing free STB’s and protecting local manufacturers from grey imports. I believe this is a reasonable costs to pay for the stated benefits compared to the taxes it will collect of 21% of the price of each box. The headend part of the CA will be paid for by the broadcasters themselves. Remember that this STB is HD enabled and all the manufacturers will include an Ethernet port as well. This is what Multichoice is scared of. The boxes are future proofed and to add additional services like OTT, VOD will not need replacing of STB’s. Also, talk of IDTV’s is a nonstarter for a project like this. Nowhere in the world are IDTV’s used for mass deployment. This is still a very expensive option for all but the monied few who can afford them. Compared to STB’s that can cost between R400 and R900 depending on who you talk to, there is no IDTV that costs less than R4000. We certainly cannot ask government to pay for this.

  44. Greg Mahlknecht on

    If you go to Alibaba, you’ll find DVB-T2 STB’s starting at around $15 – Nagravision (a cheap CA) boxes start at around $30. So these aren’t rumoured or assumed prices, these are prices you could go right now and get them for. Probably good indications of what the costs differences here would be like.

    Of course, going by what kind of numbers are being thrown around for STB cost, it seems the tenderpreneurs are planning on putting at least 100% markup on international prices anyway.

  45. Andrew Fraser on

    Circular argument. It is a government project because government created the project. That doesn’t make the project efficient or sensible. Without govt meddling and fiddling, this project would have been complete 4 years ago.

  46. Andrew Fraser on

    Localised PCB population will result in a few more jobs in those companies with sufficient capital to invest in the insertion equipment. But costs of these boards will be multiples of what the global price is.

    There will be jobs created in this project, but they are not value-adding, just tax supported temporary employment. After the 5 million or so freebie decoders are produced, there will be very little demand… Those jobs wil disappear as fast as they were created. If local companies are investing in R&D, then they shouldn’t need tax support to compete.

  47. As long as we continue with this inefficient, unskilled non vision Government SA economy is in a the spiral of decay! Investors have already pulled the plug! One such investors recently said they will no longer deal with Country run by criminals! “We need to wake up very quickly before everyone in SA will suffer!

  48. Greg, a decent box from Alibaba with encryption and HD will cost you around $38 FOB. Multiply that by 12 and you will get R456.00. That is the price when it leaves the factory. Add to that freight cost to SA, then customs duties, VAT of 14%, Ad Valorum tax of 7% then logistics costs to say JHB. Cost of certifying the box for conformance with SABS, then adding your margin before sending it to the Post office for distribution or the nearest retailers who will probably add 30% to the price. How much money do you think that $38 box from Alibaba will end up costing you to bring it legally into SA and getting it on the shelfs of the retailers? By the way, I have not added the warranty and insurance and finance costs to all of this to get to the final price.

  49. Greg Mahlknecht on

    You missed my point. I was addressing the CA/non-CA difference, and taking the cheapest of both boxes is the best way of isolating that cost. Your massive mark-up chain example serves to reinforce my point.

    The $1.50 that you “heard” would end up more like $23 (working of the $15 CA premium I found plus your own mark-up and tax examples) – so it’s not $1.50 – we’re looking at more like R300. Not counting warranty and finance costs.

  50. No Greg, I did not miss your point. I heard that the price difference between CA and Non CA box was $1.50 if one used a specific CA vendor. My understanding is that this was a price from one CA vendor so you maybe right also on the price you quote because different vendors would charge differently. The point is just as you can get different prices for STB’s, the same applies to CA vendors. At this price, it would be foolish not put it in the boxes. Also, the STB manufacturers could give the government a discount of $1.50 so as to take the argument of government funding of the CA for broadcasters out of the way. I wonder what would be the excuse of Multichoice then if that were to happen.

  51. Greg Mahlknecht on

    OK, well “I heard” isn’t much to go on, until there’s something a bit more concrete it’s not really relevant – my price is a known cheap technology (backed up with real numbers), from a dirt cheap Chinese vendor. Someone offering it at 10% of that cost is really hard to believe.

    > I wonder what would be the excuse of Multichoice then if that were to happen.

    I don’t believe Multichoice have argued the price angle, as you say they have – they’ve argued on unfair competition. So your scenario wouldn’t change their excuse in any way.

    I’m not only against the whole idea because of the price, I believe that CA is a place government shouldn’t be sticking its nose in. It should just deliver a bog standard DVB-T2 implementation and let the market take care of the commercial side of it. You think it’s so cheap – so the people making money on the pay-tv services can surely subsidize the box! Even better, go for an OpenView type model and then many pay-tv operators can share a STB and exclude DSTV, which is a far better long-term strategy IMO. I can’t see how they could keep DSTV off a government-controlled STB.

    That way the jobs created will be sustainable organically created jobs, not a bunch of jobs created just for the sake of it – something which many people in this thread seem to think is a good idea, for some reason!

  52. Jo Cocker – you are 100% correct. Software conditional access for 5 million boxes only adds $1.50 to the box. Even less if it is a government order. Several CA suppliers are willing to assist government for that price.

  53. “Hackers will be able to figure out the code and ensure that it operates in cheaper boxes from overseas…………………”

    Good. Why should my family’s standard of living be lowered by forcing them to support uncompetitive SA set top box producers. I am tired of being held hostage by SA businessmen, of whatever colour, trying to reinvent the wheel so that they can monopolise sales and price-gouge a captive public.

    I say good if we are able to import cheap Freeview HD DVB-T2 boxes from the UK and reflash the firmware to enable their use in Proudly SA.

    If you want to do something truly useful, come up with an decoder regime that excludes viewing of SABC TV stations, so enabling me to refuse to buy a TV licence and finance a broadcaster I don’t allow into my home anyway.

  54. From MMA – “As was evidenced in Mauritius’s own digital migration, signal encryption is crucial for ensuring that end-users are guaranteed uniformity of service.

    Let us eschew arrogance and exceptionalism and learn from the mistakes of those who have come before us.

    Encryption will also have the effect of giving free-to-air broadcasters the opportunity to access international high-quality premium content that will attract the viewing public and keep free-to-air broadcasters viable in the digital age.

    Moreover, without conditional access, there will be no STB interoperability, and
    end-users will be forced to buy decoder after decoder at prohibitive costs if
    they want to access broadcasting services additional to free-to-air.

    Further,“no conditional accesss presents a barrier to entry for new players, and
    maintains Multichoice’s market dominance in the broadcasting sector as well as
    its de facto monopoly in the pay-TV space.

  55. Andrew Fraser on

    Not to mention that it is pointless to do this. The control system doesn’t enable the decoder, it disables. The default settings for an imported decoder that conforms to DVB-T2 will work. No hacking required.

  56. Andrew Fraser on

    You didn’t mention the writer: Sekoetlane Phamodi, Coordinator: SOS Coalition, hardly an expert in migration and one who fails to provide any citation or support for his statement.

    “Moreover, without conditional access, there will be no STB interoperability, and end-users will be forced to buy decoder after decoder at prohibitive costs if
    they want to access broadcasting services additional to free-to-air.” – This is just bullsh*t. DVB-T2 is a standard. Of course there will inter-operability. In fact, inter-operability is REDUCED with CA.

  57. Andrew – Sekoetlane Phamodi, Coordinator: SOS Coalition does not need any citation if his remarks are relevant. He gives his honest opinion. His opinions are true.

    “Moreover, without conditional access, there will be no STB interoperability, and end-users will be forced to buy decoder after decoder at prohibitive costs if they want to access broadcasting services additional to free-to-air.” Nothing wrong with this statement because, according to government new players on DVB-T2 can provide their own set top boxes with their own CA. Sekoetlane is correct – How many set top boxes do you want to buy? 1 SABC plus 1 for New Player 1, another box for New Player 2 or 3 or 5? Crazy. Gov should lead with a good CA for all on DVB-T2. One CA for all on DVB-T2 = interoperability.

  58. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>How many set top boxes do you want to buy? 1 SABC plus 1 for New Player 1, another box for New Player 2 or 3 or 5? Crazy.

    SABC is FTA so I don’t need an STB when I have a digital TV that supports DVB-T2.

    As for New Player 1, New Player 2 or 3 or 5? they would most definitely be Crazy if they don’t all work together towards one CA for all… why should government get involved?

    The next thing when they can’t afford to pay for the “Premium” content when they have CA sponsored by government, will be to demand that government prohibit Multichoice from signing exclusive content deals with content suppliers.

    If they can’t pay for CA themselves then they definitely won’t be able to pay for “Premium” content when bidding against MC.

  59. Hansom Stanford on

    Apologies, just saw the question. No, OTA refers to firmware updates, OTT, in this case, is Over-the-Top content delivered via IP. Naturally one needs the right middleware such as HbbTv to have this capability. 🙂

  60. Wow! The bullsh!t level in this thread is stunning! Just one example:

    > Remember that … all the manufacturers will include an Ethernet port as well

    Really? Please show me where in SANS 862 any mention of an Ethernet port is made. Section 4.12.3 Connectors in the standard lists 7 different connectors. None of them is an Ethernet Port.

  61. > The governments BDM policy has two main STATED objectives:
    1. Protect the governments investment
    2. Protect and promote the local electronics manufacturing industry.

    Silly me! Here I was, thinking that the reason to migrate to DTT was to free up spectrum for broadband purposes.
    No wonder we haven’t made any progress

  62. A return path was included in 2009 already. Multichoice influenced Minister Dina Pule to remove the return path. SACF has put the Minister under pressure and the Minister had to include the return path. This was done at Cape Town ICT Indaba.

  63. > A return path was included in 2009 already

    In the Policy, maybe. Not in the specification. The only mention of a “return path” in SANS 862 is in the Introduction where it says:

    “The South African MHEG-5 profile supports a return path, but this is optional in this document. ”
    There are three fundamental difficulties with this “return path” concept.
    1) It’s completely undefined
    2) Those who are too poor to buy their own STB (and pay for a TV Licence) are really unlikely to be able to afford 3G data (or equivalent) to actually use a return path, even if it existed.
    3) The available bandwidth, even if an entire content channel was devoted to it, only allows 0.125 bits per second per household. That means that it would take more than an entire DAY to broadcast a single short email or text-only webpage in response to a “request” via this “return path”. A cellphone is far more practical.
    Let’s get back to the real world, shall we?

  64. Andrew Fraser on

    Thanks for the clarification. You’re right that advanced STBs are capable of this, but realistically, is government capable of managing a project with that kind of complexity? My opinion is that it is better to ensure that the government subsidised boxes are capable of vanilla DVB-T2 and that is it. Any additional services, features and encryption should be the responsibility of the broadcasters.

    There is nothing stopping the broadcasters from forming an alliance and setting specifications for a CA enabled box in order that they can provide these premium services. The only difference is that taxpayer funds are not used to finance these broadcaster’s commercial ventures.

  65. Why should poor South Africans suffer by not being able to access premium content? Nigeria is leading the way – with great reasoning: “Towards moving the Nigerian broadcast industry from analogue to digital broadcasting, the National Broadcasting Commission has signed an agreement with Inview Technologies Limited for the provision of a National Common Set-Top-Box system.

    A statement issued by the Assistant Director, Public Affairs, NBC, Mrs. Maimuna Jimada, in Abuja on Thursday, said the agreement would see Inview Technologies Limited, in collaboration with MTS Communications Limited, make available the software for the provision of key services.

    According to the NBC spokesperson, the key services include collection of annual digital content fee, conditional access system, electronic programme guide, push video on direct-to-home television, and interactive advertising.

  66. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>Why should poor South Africans suffer by not being able to access premium content?

    It is blatantly obvious to all that you are not the voice of poor South Africans because there is plenty that this tax payer money would be able do for the poor rather than being used to subsidize STBs.

    >>Nigeria is leading the way – with great reasoning:

    This is SA where such government institutions as the IDC, NEF, etc. not so long ago were severely burnt backing a venture that went up against Multichoice.

    There was a valuable lesson learnt from that and there’s no need to be repeating the same mistake just to please the likes of Antonio who lie about having the interests of the poor when its all about selfish interests.

    Multichoice has been leading the way from the very first decoder to bring a wireless pay TV offering to SA homes and are today a global force that is most definitely an unwarranted risk for government to go into competition with…

    …those who want to play in that space are in no way prevented from doing so by the policy and all they must do is fund their commercial interests themselves.

  67. Andrew Fraser on

    And your point? There is nothing stopping the poor from accessing premium content. It just shouldn’t be subsidised by government.

    Government has many developmental projects to invest tax money on, infrastructure, health, education, social services. Why spend that tax money to make tenderpreneurs rich at the expense of the economy?

  68. Vusi – The poor will speak for themselves. The poor are not totally in the dark. The poor is learning about these set top boxes as we speak. You can not short cut the poor all the time.
    Tax money assisting the poor is not a bad thing at all?

  69. Learn from Nigeria – Jimada said, “The agreement will essentially help the commission give birth to the National Set-Top-Box Platform that will enable commonality for all digital television services in the country.
    SA should provide top services by enabling commonality for all digital TV services – like e-government.

  70. Andrew Fraser on

    Maybe they should focus on just government. Judging by the debacle of this project, e-government is beyond their abilities.