South Africa to switch off analogue signals

ALSO READ: The big analogue TV switch-off is over-hasty and will be a disaster in Daily Maverick

South Africa will finish its migration to digital terrestrial television and switch off its analogue TV signals on 31 March 2022. The switch-off will free critical wireless network capacity that mobile operators want to expand their 4G and 5G networks. These “digital dividend” radio frequencies are part of the spectrum auction the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) plans to conclude on 8 March.

They are also the subject of a court case that Telkom has brought to set aside the auction and force Icasa back to the drawing board. Telkom contends that it is unreasonable to expect them to bid on spectrum when there is no guarantee that it will be available to use. Human settlements minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has accused the partially state-owned Telkom of holding South Africa to ransom.

Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni proclaimed the final switch-off date in a statement issued on Monday night, citing paragraph 3.3.1 of the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy. Ntshavheni declared the date despite a pending court case brought by E-tv owner eMedia Holdings, which will be heard in the middle of March. eMedia has called for South Africa’s analogue switch-off to be delayed by 9–12 months, arguing that many people will be left without a TV signal. Aside from South Africans being left without access to television, eMedia said the drop in viewership would hurt its bottom-line substantially. Ntshavheni disputes that anyone will be left behind.

Source: My Broadband