Two months after missing the international deadline for switching from analogue to digital terrestrial television, South Africa has still not begun commercial digital broadcasts. However, the department of communications said in parliament on Tuesday that it is ready to consult with cabinet about a launch date and to place an order for up to 5m set-top boxes.
Communications minister Faith Muthambi said the various roleplayers in the digital migration project are making good progress and South Africa should soon be ready to begin the switchover process.
Cabinet will soon discuss the launch date as well as the length of the dual-illumation period, during which both analogue and digital signals will co-exist. It’s during this period that consumers are expected to get ready for the analogue switch-off by installing the equipment they need to receive terrestrial digital broadcasts.
South Africa will adopt a phased approach to analogue switch-off, the department told parliament. Border areas will be prioritised in an effort to minimise any cross-border signal interference. South Africa has already signed co-operation agreements on spectrum harmonisation with all South Africa’s neighbouring countries, with the exception of Zimbabwe.
Twenty-six manufacturers will be involved in making set-top boxes, while three have been identified to supply antennae.
Government will place orders for set-top boxes this month, with the logistics and distribution framework to be finalised shortly. The state is subsidising as many as 5m boxes for free provision into poorer households.
The department said Sentech’s digital TV signals now cover 84% of the country’s population, with the remaining 16% to be provided services using direct-to-home satellite. — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media