Digital Migration

Telkom's CEO Criticises South Africa's Digital Migration Efforts

Following the highly publicised analogue switch off by the South African (SA) government, the Telkom CEO has shared his criticism of this so-called achievement, stating that the SA government has missed all of its digital migration deadlines for the past ten years.

Sipho Maseko, the Telkom CEO, said that South Africa is far behind its goal, which was to migrate the current terrestrial broadcasting frequency ten years ago. The migration objective has always been to free up the high demand spectrum by migrating from analogue to digital signals, said Maseko. In doing so, large amounts of high demand spectrum would be free for use by cellular networks.

Digital dividends, as known by the industry, have been lobbied by the leading telcos in the country for the past ten years. The telcos have requested the government to release the spectrum in order for them to improve coverage and reduce mobile data costs.

Highlighting Telkom's predicament, Maseko said that Telkom's main reason for earmarking the dividends is due to the telecoms company not having access to a lower frequency spectrum for its cellular network.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) had included part of the digital dividends in its plans to auction the high demand spectrum; however, Telkom filed against the move. Telkom reasoned that the spectrum could not be auctioned due to it still being occupied by broadcasters, therefore, would not be available for commercial use.

Maseko noted that the SA government has been unable to meet its own goals; therefore, the telco felt that the auction would be a reckless expenditure. Also, there was no guarantee that the switch over would be completed by the advised date.

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