The country’s broadcasting signal distributor Sentech says it’s on track to complete the installation of digital set-top boxes countrywide by the end of March next year – that will mark the end of the Analog Broadcast era in South Africa and usher in a new era of Digital Broadcasting.
South Africa should have moved to Digital Broadcasting for both TV and Radio from Analog five years ago, but the government has failed to meet that deadline until now.
In his State of the Nation Address in February this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa gave Sentech the new deadline of 31st March next year.
Sentech’s Executive for Operations, Marlon Finnis, says they are now on track to meet the new deadline.
Sentech says the installation of set-top boxes will enable television viewers throughout the country to receive a better quality picture on their TV screens and a multitude of channels at the same time.
Finnis says the installation of set-top boxes has been completed in the Northern Cape and Free State provinces. The rollout has now moved to North West, other provinces will soon follow.
Households with a combined income of less than R3 500 a month qualify for a free installation.
The broadcast signal distributor says it does not predict any problems following the migration from analogue to digital in the Northern Cape.
Sentech CEO Mlamli Booi says they’ve had a successful transition in both the Free State and Northern Cape and have not received any complaints.
“We’ve developed and established infrastructure for digital broadcasting and we’ve been in the journey of switching off analogue to digital. The network is stable. Sentech has done a great job to make sure that it is maintained, kept at the highest level of quality and at all times the signal is up and running. So, we have been making good progress having switch off analogue in the free state and now we are in the Northern Cape we will be moving to the North West and other provinces where we will be turning off analogue so that we can free up the spectrum that is so much required,” says Booi.
Government clarifies the switch from analogue to digital:
Where is South Africa’s digital migration?
In 2006, the South African government accepted the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) agreement that called for countries to migrate from analogue Television to Digital Television by June 2015.
The purpose of the mandate known as the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) process was to improve the quality of TV services and maximise the efficient use of the spectrum.
The South African government initially set the deadline to complete the migration process by 2011, however, this never happened as the programme suffered setback after setback during the technology negotiations process.
On March 18, 2015, South Africa started the process of migrating broadcasting signals from analogue to digital. However, recently Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni indicated that the television broadcast digital migration process is set to meet the 31 March 2022 deadline that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation Address earlier this year.
To assist the masses, the government says it will run an Analogue Switch-off message that will scroll on analogue TVs with dates to ensure that the population is aware and migrates before the set dates to continue receiving television services.