Digital TV commercial switch-on date set

The Department of Communications (DoC) will hold a commercial launch for digital terrestrial television (DTT) in December 2012.

This marks the start of the “dual illumination period” in South Africa, during which time both analogue and digital signals will be available, Minister of Communications, Dina Pule, said at the “proof of concept” launch of DTT in the Northern Cape today (3 October 2012).

Roy Kruger, technical adviser to the DoC, told the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises in August that the first phase of the launch of DTT in South Africa would happen in the Northern Cape.

The DoC chose the area near where the Square Kilometre Array was being rolled-out for a number of reasons:

  1. Phase one of the launch is a proof of concept, and the proof of concept was to show that DTT does work;
  2. To show that the frequencies used for DTT broadcasting do not interfere with the SKA project; and
  3. To show people in the deep rural areas who have never had TV before, that in the future they will have access to TV.
Digital TV commercial launch tweet
Digital TV commercial launch tweet

Kruger explained that the launch will happen in two areas, with direct-to-home satellite decoders used around the SKA, and DTT transmissions showcased in a township near Kimberley.

The Minister of Communications and E-TV are embroiled in court proceedings over the administration of the control system for DTT set-top boxes (STBs).

E-TV has indicated that it doesn’t expect the roll-out of DTT can proceed until the dispute between it and the Minister over STB control is resolved.

It is understood that every household in SA will need an STB to receive the digital signal until TVs become available domestically that support South Africa’s chosen standard for DTT signals (DVB-T2).

There are also certain specifications particular to digital TV in SA that these TVs may need to support.

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Digital TV commercial switch-on date set