The Department of Communications (DoC) has taken another step in its quest to source a company for the local manufacturing of set-top boxes (STBs) required for South Africa’s rapidly approaching digital migration.
The DoC this week cancelled its April request for information (RFI) in favour of a request for proposals (RFP) for the local manufacture of its subsidised STBs.
The RFI attracted 36 potential STB manufacturers.
The government aimed to subsidise STBs for about five-million households that were unable to afford STBs. This was estimated to cost about R2.45-billion.
The DoC said it would launch digital migration in September this year, following a number of delays in the migration from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT). The department said in March, in a response to a Parliamentary question, that the analogue transmission would be switched off on December 31, 2013 and that it was on track to meet this target. Originally, this was to have occurred during November 2011.
Last week, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa tabled the latest DTT regulations, which installed a provision aimed at meeting any future contingencies, including that analogue switch-off might be delayed beyond the internationally agreed deadline of June 17, 2015.
The local manufacture of STBs is the second phase of a three-phase project, which included the simultaneous roll-out of the physical broadcasting network equipment and the distribution of STBs.
The Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa is currently finalising subsidy qualification criteria for television owning households.
The DoC claimed there were about 11.5-million television-owning households in South Africa, of which 72% rely on free-to-air broadcasting services.
Bidders had until August 30 to respond to the RFP.