In a press statement issued today (6 June 2012), the South African Communications Forum (SACF) congratulated Minister of Communications Dina Pule on her decision to include “return path” functionality in subsidised digital TV set-top boxes (STBs).
According to the SACF, it speaks on behalf of the majority of companies active in the South African Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry.
South Africans will need an STB to receive the new digital terrestrial television (DTT) signal that’s scheduled to be switched on in Q3 2012.
Once analogue broadcasts are switched off an STB (or a TV with an integrated DVB-T2 tuner) will be required to watch terrestrial TV broadcasts at all. Satellite TV customers won’t be affected.
“Making this important announcement during the inaugural ICT Indaba demonstrates the Minister’s commitment and determination to bridge the digital divide and to bring the poorest of the poor into the information society,” said Lucky Masilela, Chairperson of the SACF.
According to the SACF, inclusion of Internet access for the subsidized set top box is the best opportunity to bridge the digital divide.
“This decision means that South Africa, which had been lagging behind in internet penetration on the continent, will move swiftly ahead in its goals to achieve universal access and ICT competitiveness,” the SACF said.
Loren Braithwaite Kabosha, CEO of SACF, said that the next challenge faced by industry is to ensure broadband is rolled out to rural areas as swiftly as possible “to bring greater accessibility and utilisation of the internet access to be provided on the set-top box.”