South Africa must complete its digital migration by 31 March 2022.
- North West is the third province to migrate from analogue to digital.
- Limpopo and Mpumalanga will be switched off in January, and migration is under way in other regions.
- South Africa’s deadline for nationwide migration from analogue to digital is 31 March.
The North West on Wednesday finally turned off its analogue TV signal and switched to Digital Terrestrial Television as part of a government-backed push to migrate the country to digital transmission.
The process – which started nearly 15 years ago – has been hobbled by long delays and North West is the third province in the country to have been fully migrated.
Switching off the analogue broadcasting signal has been on the agenda of government since 2005 and initially envisaged to be concluded in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, but the programme has suffered multiple setbacks and the country missed the June 2015 deadlines set by the International Telecommunication Union.
The Free State and Northern Cape have also completed the migration. South Africa has set itself a deadline of 31 March 2022 for nationwide migration to digital transmission, a date Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, is confident would be met.
The pressing need for additional spectrum rollout has given impetus to the long-delayed migration process, as the switch-off will be critical to the release of high demand spectrum.
“What is also important is that by switching off analogue, we are freeing up the radio frequency spectrum that is necessary for the rollout of spectrum, which will allow us access to 5G technology,” said Ntshavheni.
“The switch-off allows the country to bridge the digital divide and be on the par with global digital advancements,” she added.
The migration involves the distribution of set-top boxes, which is a device that enables users to receive digital television services. The devices are distributed to poor households that are without any form of satellite signal transmitters.
Ntshavheni said Mpumalanga and Limpopo would be the next provinces to be fully migrated in January.
“There was a worry that we were moving slower, but that is not the case. We have already switched off sites in Mpumalanga and Limpopo – work there is under way.”
She stressed that households that already have access to satellite television such as DStv, OVHD, Telkom-One, StarSat and any other streaming platforms were already off the analogue system.
In his 2021 State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa must complete the digital migration by 31 March 2022.