South Africa updates DTT plans

South Africa’s much delayed roll out of digital terrestrial TV is happening, insists the nation’s Minister of Communications. Dina Pule told South Africa’s parliament that more than 80 per cent of the population would be able to receive DTT signals by the end of the year.

Pule was presenting his ministry’s budget to parliament, and told MPs that the ministry was targeting to reach 84 per cent of the population by year-end. The balance, however, would not be served by DTT but by satellite, and the country’s transmission company SENTECH would be launching a DTH supply of key channels and  would include radio transmissions.

She said her department had also finalised the subsidy plan for poor households, supported by the qualifying criteria, to obtain digital television. “We are ready to implement the Set-Top Box (STB) manufacturing strategy which requires 30 per cent local content as part of the electronic industry development,” she added.

Industry regulator Icasa had finalised the broadcasting regulations and Pule said she would shortly release a notice in the Government Gazette setting the performance period for digital migration switch on. She said her department would next month launch the STB compliance lab in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS). “We have taken a decision to review the policy on the STB control system as one way of fast tracking the rollout of DTT to make this system non-mandatory,” she said.

She said her department would also intensify its communication campaigns to inform and educate the public about the need for DTT. She said the department would need about R8 billion over the next three years to cover digital migration and meet the International Telecommunications Union deadline of June 17th 2015.

In her budget vote speech Pule said her department is finalising a project action plan that has connectivity targets for public facilities such schools, health centres, government offices, libraries and police stations. Earlier this month, her department closed the public consultation phase on the New Broadband Policy and her department is now preparing to take this policy to the cabinet next month.

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