South Africa’s Department of Communications has confirmed that the country will not meet the allotted deadline for the switch-off of analogue television signals.
The primary objective of digital migration in South Africa is to clear the radio frequency spectrum currently occupied by broadcasters to enable the provision of wireless mobile broadband services and other applications.
The timeline, set by the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU), denoted 17 June 2015 as the switch-over date.
However, South Africa’s DoC has highlighted the disagreement among broadcasters as to whether to include the control system in the prospective government-issued STBs as a reason for the delay. As such, it has welcomed the recent cabinet decision in favour of the control system, suggesting that things can now move forward at a more satisfying pace.
“The Department of Communications believes that the provision of definition of the STB control system in the final policy will assist in clearing the confusion regarding the use of control system in the STBs,” reads a statement from the DoC. “The new policy position does not in any way prohibit any broadcaster who will want to include conditional access in the provision of broadcasting services to its customers.”
The South African government will provide free STBs to more than 5 million poor television household owners instead of a partial subsidy of 70% as previously approved in 2008. The distribution of the STBs will prioritise those households in the border region areas of the country to avoid and minimise signal interference between those regions and neighbouring countries.
The SA DoC adds that these STBs are to be used in the transition to enable free to air broadcasting services to migrate from analogue to digital television and “will not be a permanent feature in the new free to air broadcasting system.”