The Department of Communications (DoC) on Wednesday successfully launched its “proof of concept” phase, in the Northern Cape – the first province to experience digital broadcasting signals.
The launch marked the first significant step in South Africa’s move from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT).
“DTT will revolutionise the television industry in South Africa,” Communications Minister Dina Pule said at the launch in Motswedimosa, near Kimberley.
The launch aimed to “showcase” the DTT technology in a “particularly difficult” region, she added. The Northern Cape will host the Square Kilometre Array science project.
There were about 30 communities in the Northern Cape that historically had little or no broadcasting coverage. The province currently had about 30% network coverage, and State-owned signal distributor Sentech was expected to complete the roll-out of the network coverage by October 2013.
The official DTT launch and start of dual-illumination was scheduled for December, when the DoC would open the DTT signal nationally.
The DoC aimed for a December 2013 analogue switch-off date, marking the completion of digital migration, but Pule noted that the International Telecommunications Union deadline of 2015 would allow extended time in case of unforeseen hiccups.
Meanwhile, the DoC was reviewing proposals for the local manufacture of the subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) for five-million of South Africa’s poorest television-owning households.
The selection of manufacturers was expected mid-October, with the first batch of STBs to be delivered at the end of November.