SA's switch from analogue to digital pushed out by another year



JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's switch from analogue to digital broadcasting has been pushed back to next year.

Speaking at a briefing in Pretoria, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane also said the SABC's operations will be reviewed and strengthened.

South Africa is woefully behind when it comes to migrating from analogue to digital transmission. The country has missed a 2015 deadline and three years on is trailing behind neighbours like Namibia and Botswana.

But what does the overdue switch from old to new technology mean for you and me?

READ: ANC again moves digital migration dead

The government's attempts to move from analogue to digital broadcasting are over a decade old. The state has missed multiple deadlines and spent billions on the move.

“The bands that are going to be freed up during this process, they are called the digital dividend bands, and they are particularly well suited for delivering mobile broadband in rural areas, and doing so more affordable and cheaply. So, the net effect should be that mobile broadband prices come down once this process is completed,” said Duncan McLeod of TechCentral.

In February, the Post Office stated that the North West and Free State would make the change by June 2018. But Mokonyane now hopes the province will be fully digital by December 2018. The communications minister will not commit to a national deadline.

"We are now busy doing an evaluation across the country," Mokonyane said.

"As we have also indicated, we are putting together the capacity that has not been there, that is inclusive, that would then give us a better sense of where we are and how best we can accelerate.

"We do not want to speculate but our wish is to make sure that we do not want to go beyond 2019 before we can totally switch off the country. We do not have an actual date. We want to attend to it based on scientific evidence and information which is not collated, which is not actually there for now."

READ: SA digital migration reaches critical milestone

Three years ago, City Press reported the incomplete switch had at that point cost just under R8.5-billion. The change was projected to cost another R929-million by 2018.

Mokonyane said the switch should be complete by next year. The minister also said a turnaround team was reviewing the SABC&39;s operations in order to improve its financial and organisational stability.

She urged the public to pay their TV licenses to help the broadcaster tackle its money problems.