Friday, 29 April 2022 13:04

Government readies to go to market with its own set-top boxes.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has gazetted a request for comments on a proposal to prohibit the importation of analogue television sets to South Africa.

The proposal further seeks to prohibit the dumping of analogue TV sets in South Africa whilst supporting the 'penetration of digital television viewing'.

Addressing media on Thursday (28 April), Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the move was necessary as part of South Africa’s shift to digital television signals.

"We have managed to conclude SABC analogue switch-off in the five provinces of the Free-State, Northern Cape, North-West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces," the minister said.

"In the provinces where analogue has been switched off, we have concluded a process of re-arranging spectrum (Restacking) in these 5 provinces thereby giving a way for the spectrum to be assigned for future technology usages."

Ntshavheni added that her department is also ramping up plans to distribute and install digital set-top boxes (STBs) in the homes of South Africans ahead of the digital switch.

"The government of South Africa remains committed to its objective of supporting indigent households to ensure universal access of digital services. We will commence with the end of September target immediately when we conclude a province, as it is a case in the Gauteng Province.

"We are also in a process of creating STB capacity for any subsequent registrations and placement in the retail market for future replacement and access to any requiring citizen."

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has given TV broadcasters until 30 June to vacate their old analogue TV frequencies. This is because provisional spectrum licences involving these frequencies are valid until the end of June.

Icasa assigned a provisional spectrum in November last year after an outcry from mobile network operators when the regulator threatened to take temporary frequency allocations away in preparation for its spectrum auction.

Radio frequency spectrum is mobile operators' raw network capacity to communicate between their towers and cellular devices.