DTT to launch in April 2012


As per the Budget Vote speech delivered by South Africa’s Minister of Communications Roy Padayachie in the National Assembly on 31 May, the public launch of digital terrestrial television (DTT) is expected to take place in April next year.

South Africa’s migration from analogue broadcasting to DTT has suffered several long delays since cabinet adopted the decision to migrate way back in 2006. However, Padayachie stressed that the Department of Communications (DoC) will implement interventions to ensure that South Africa migrates to digital broadcasting by 2013.

He noted that significant progress has already been made in implementing the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy for South Africa. “A successful trial conducted by broadcasters and the signal distributor has demonstrated that South Africa is ready with the process of migrating from analogue terrestrial television to digital terrestrial television, using the adopted DVB-T2 standard.

“Substantial work has been done by Sentech in upgrading its broadcasting infrastructure from the existing DVB-T to DVB-T2. By March 2011, Sentech achieved 60% population coverage on the DVB-T2 standard. The uptake of digital broadcasting technology will expand the public bouquet in content viewing, for example, increase the number of channels from the current three SABC channels to over 10. These additional channels will provide an opportunity for the growth and transformation of the local content development industry.’

The DoC expects the South African Bureau of Standards to finalise the second generation DVB-T2 standard during the last quarter of 2011. The set-top box (STB) manufacturing strategy and the scheme for the framework for ownership support will be submitted to Cabinet in August 2011.

“We are consulting widely with industry and relevant stakeholders towards finalising this process. This will pave the way for us to select the preferred STB manufacturers for the subsidised market by November 2011 and deploying the necessary infrastructure for the distribution of the subsidised STBs. The manufacturing of subsidised STBs will commence following Cabinet approval. With regard to the unsubsidised STB market, manufacturing will begin once the SABS standards process is concluded,’ stated Padayachie.

In June this year Sentech will switch-on the first DVB-T2 test transmission at the Brixton tower in Johannesburg, targeting townships and informal settlements around the Johannesburg metropolitan area.

Padayachie continued: “By the end of 2012, Sentech will have upgraded the existing infrastructure to DVB-T2, to cover 80% of the population. We intend to achieve 100% population coverage by the end of 2013 to enable analogue signal switch-off. Working together with all broadcasters and signal distributors, an integrated DTT project implementation plan has been developed and will seek cabinet approval in August 2011. Due to the complexity and the magnitude of the digital migration process, we have decided to establish a dedication Digital Migration Project Office to be located within the Department to drive the DTT implementation plan,’ said Padayachie.

Mail & Guardian reports that at a press conference following his speech Padayachie said that all broadcasters should contribute to the funding of the country’s digital TV migration. 
It’s worth noting that South Africa’s three broadcasters (e.tv, M-Net and SABC) have already invested huge amounts of money into digital migration in the form of DTT trials, first with the DVB-T standard and more recently with the DVB-T2 standard. They will also have to bear the costs of dual illumination (the period when both analogue and digital signals are broadcast in the run-up to the final analogue switch-off).


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