Digital Migration

South Africa Makes Progress In Digital Migration Project

Twenty-five thousand low-income homes in South Africa’s Northern Cape province have been migrated from analogue broadcasting and connected to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

The country’s Department of Communications (DOC) revealed this information recently in parliament as it detailed the progress of the digital migration project in SA.
A further 21 000 homes receive a digital signal through satellite, according to the DOC.

However, these numbers have little significance in comparison to the total number of households that the SA government had promised to support in order to facilitate the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) programme.

The South African government had committed to subsidising over five million qualifying homes with digital migration packages, including free set-top boxes (STBs).
The STBs are critical for the digital migration process as they will convert digital broadcasting signals on analogue televisions. The decoders will, therefore, allow consumers to receive DTT without having to purchase a new digital TV.

South Africa's road towards digital migration has been an incredibly bumpy ride, characterised by minimal progress and the constant shifting of deadlines along the way.

In 2006, SA, along with many other countries had committed to the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU's) deadline of June 2015 for all countries to switch from analogue to digital TV.

The ITU also called on countries to migrate to digital in order to allow radio frequency spectrum to be freed up and used for mobile broadband services.
However, SA missed the ITU's deadline and is now playing a game of catch-up.
The DOC said that it is now targeting July 2020 as the new "official deadline" for the country to complete its digital migration.

The state believes that successful migration will enable it to bridge the digital gap, increase the economy’s competitiveness, build social cohesion and create jobs.

When the country has successfully migrated to DTT, it will free up radio frequency spectrum which is currently being utilised by analogue services for other broadcasting and broadband services. Mobile operators say that they are excited to see the full implementation of the DTT project, as this will unlock the spectrum that they have long been calling for.

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