South African government has announced a significant milestone in the analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) migration project by kick-starting the process of ‘dual illumination’, during which analogue and digital signals will coexist. TechCentral reports that the dual illumination period started on 1 February and is expected to last ‘several years’ until analogue signals are switched off at a future date, yet to be determined by cabinet. MultiChoice was the first provider to launch commercial DTT services by introducing its GOtv service via its subsidiary M-Net. The platform offers two standard definition channels for ZAR49 (USD3.1) or twelve channels for ZAR99; subscribers also gain access to free-to-air content from SABC, e.tv and community broadcasters.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the migration process, which was originally scheduled for completion in November 2011 in line with a Cabinet decision taken in 2007, has since been pushed back to 1 December 2013, and subsequently 17 June 2015 (the International Telecommunication Union’s [ITU’s] deadline for analogue switch-off). The country failed to meet the international deadline, though the cabinet pledged in December 2015 to initiate the project on 1 February 2016. Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said at the time that the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting services would release ‘the much-needed frequency spectrum’ – suitable for the provision of 4G LTE mobile broadband services – and would increase the competitiveness of the South African economy.