The Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies has announced that together with broadcasters, it has started with the phased switch-off of analogue television transmitters in the Free State.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement during the State of the Nation Address last month that the phased switch-off of analogue TV transmitters would begin this month.
The department said it is anticipated that this process, which will be done on a province-by-province basis, will be completed by the end of March 2022.
On Monday the analogue signal was switched off in Boesmanskop and surrounding towns in the Xhariep District Municipality, the department said. This will be followed by Ladybrand and surrounding towns on Tuesday.
“The switch-off in each province will be systematic and in phases, moving from one analogue transmitter coverage area to the other, until all district municipalities within the province are completed,” the department said.
The department is working with provincial governments and district municipalities to recruit local installers of government-subsided digital decoders to accelerate the implementation of the broadcasting digital migration.
This will, in turn, free up previous high-demand spectrum for use by mobile operators, resulting in better networks and cheaper mobile data for South Africans.
Analogue TV switch-off dates
The analogue TV switch-off dates for each province is shown below.
- Free State – March 2021
- Northern Cape – April 2021
- North West – May 2021
- Mpumalanga – May 2021
- Eastern Cape – May 2021
- Kwa-Zulu Natal – July 2021
- Western Cape – November 2021
- Limpopo – December 2021
- Gauteng – January 2022
Note that this timeline is an estimate and the department will provide further detail in future.
Installing and subsiding decoders
This switch-off of analogue television transmitters follows a reviewed implementation process initiated by Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, with the ultimate aim to eliminate inefficiencies and bottlenecks.
The department is now also working with signal distributor Sentech to assist with the management of decoder installations.
“As it is in the interest of the country that the broadcasting digital migration is completed to free up much-needed spectrum, we are redoubling our efforts to accelerate the project,” said Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams.
The release of this spectrum will greatly improve connectivity within South Africa and spur the digitalisation of economic activities, the department added.
“We have adopted an inclusive approach to educate the public about the digital migration project and the options available to consumers, including those television viewing households that do not qualify for the government-subsidised set-top-boxes,” said Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams.
The government will subsidise decoders for indigent households with a combined household income of less than R3,200 per month.
Television viewing households that do not qualify for fully-subsidised government decoders have the option of buying new integrated digital television (IDTV) sets that have the DTT decoding capability built-in.
Existing commercial satellite decoders are also considered suitable as a migration alternative to subsidised decoders and IDTVs.
Local television manufacturers have made these IDTV sets and a wider variety of decoder products available through major retail outlets across the country, following an engagement between Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams and local television set manufacturers.