Digital Migration

South Africa: Subsidised Set-Top Box Distribution Delayed Despite Stock Availability

The Communications Ministry’s Acting Director General (DG) Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani recently revealed the status of digital switch-over in South Africa. In her address, Jordan-Dyani stated that only 600 000 Set-Top-Boxes (STBs) had been installed thus far in qualifying households.

Jordan-Dyani described this number as an ‘a drop in the ocean’ when she considered the amount of work and installations needed to be carried out to migrate the entire country from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting. The Acting DG also shared the status of the Free State analogue switch-off, which has the town of Bethlehem to be still completed to date. According to the Acting DG, installations in the Northern Cape province has already started.

The custodian of the Broadcasting Digital Migration project (BDM), the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), presented its annual performance plans for the 2021/22 financial year to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications.

During the presentation, the Acting DG spoke on the digital switch-over progress said that the current delays have been due to challenges with STB installers. She highlighted that the installers were displeased at one stage due to the issue of payments. According to the installers, the revenue earned from the project was below commercial value. DCDT then consulted with the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA), overseeing the rollout, and an agreement was signed to increase installation fees.

Jordan-Dyani also emphasised that the reason for the lagging behind in the depletion of stock is the limited capacity when it comes to installers. However, the department has introduced a voucher system which is set to speed up progress.

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