Digital Migration

South Africa: Sentech In The Hunt For A Viable Digital Set-Top Box Maker

South African leading signal distributor, Sentech, is looking to sign a five-year standing supply contract with a set-top box manufacturer – or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) – to co-develop and provide set-top boxes (STBs) unsubsidised markets.

Charged with administering the government's multibillion-rand Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) plan, the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) is now facing dissolution. The above mentioned stems from years of debate about its management, procurement, and STB rollout, resulting in a partnership with Sentech to help with phase one of the BDM project's rollout.

Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani, acting director-general of the communications ministry, announced a tender last month. After she said that the 600,000 STBs installed in qualifying households as part of the government's switch to digital migration is "a drop in the ocean" compared to the number of homes that still need to be migrated nationwide. For each product supplied, the winning bidder will be required to obtain approval certifications from ICASA and the South African Bureau of Standards.

The switch to DTT, which was mentioned in President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address earlier this year, is expected to save the cash-strapped South African Broadcasting Corporation. A significant amount of money will also be made available to broadcasting services by freeing up the radio frequency spectrum for mobile broadband.

However, the transition has been plagued with delays and challenges, causing the country to miss the International Telecommunication Union's deadline set in 2015 to complete the project. "Completing digital migration is critical to the country's ability to successfully embrace the immense potential afforded by technology development that is occurring around the world," Ramaphosa said.

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