Department of Communications has announced a new project called Go DIGITAL South Africa.
WHAT IS DIGITAL TV?
Go Digital South Africa is a process of taking South Africans to an era of High Definition, Digital Television, that also bring more choice of television channels to ordinary people who view “free-to-air television as provided by SABC, eTV and Mnet , TV and radio signals have been broadcast on an analogue platform. Analogue television requires a large amount of bandwidth to transmit the picture and sound information.
The more bandwidth, the more can be carried – a bit like traffic lanes on a highway. Analogue signals use a lot of bandwidth, limiting the amount of signal that can get through at any one time.
Digital signals, on the other hand, require much less bandwidth – up to 9 times as much digital information can be carried in the same bandwidth!
The result is a brighter, sharper picture and much better sound quality; like the difference between an old video cassette and a DVD.
WHY GO DIGITAL?
The benefits of digital TV can be summarised as follows:
Better quality TV
Digital TV – enabled by a Set Top Box (STB) – offers a sharper, brighter picture, with reduced “ghosting” and interference. What’s more, the audio signal is much clearer, so you enjoy improved sound quality.
Because digital signals take up much less bandwidth than analogue signals, we can broadcast up to 10 television channels in the same bandwidth – giving you the potential of many more channels to choose from.
Government’s Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy encourages more public services channels for youth, women, education and eGovernment services.
For the first time, you will be able to access many free-to-air TV channels that you can select simply by using the remote and the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG).
The secret to universal access lies in the STB that receives the digital signal (which TV sets cannot read) and converts it to an analogue signal for your TV.
The STB is actually an incredible communications device, in that it has a return path capability and will also have the capability to interface with devices such as a cellphone, memory stick or internet modem.
This sets the stage for the envisaged implementation of e-government services and access to basic internet services and digital information – a massive benefit for those whose access was formerly limited by distance, physical challenges and cost.
HOW DO I GO DIGITAL?
Good news is, you don’t have to buy a new TV! You may use your existing TV set to watch the digital channels.
However, you will need to purchase a Set Top Box (STB), which plugs straight into theTV sets, either via the aerial connection point for older TV sets, or via RCA/AV points of the newer TV sets. The STB receives the digital signal and decodes it so that it can be viewed on an analogue TV set.
Please note that STBs are not available on the market as yet as final specifications and trials of the equipment and signal is still taking place. STBs should be available to the public during the first half of 2010. Watch the press for details.
- Even the latest ‘digital ready’ and high definition TVs on the market will need a STB to receive the digital terrestrial signal.
- The digital signal will not be transmitted via satellite transmission, but using existing terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure. DStv subscribers will continue to receive the existing and some free-to-air channels. If you wish to receive all the new Digital TV free-to-air services, you will have to buy a DTT Set Top Box.
To make sure that the technology works perfectly across the board, it is important that you purchase an approved STB that conforms fully with the specifications stipulated by the SABS. Look for the special logo with the tick of approval on every STB. This mark is your guarantee that your STB conforms to ALL software and manufacturing specifications (see Go Digital tick top left of your screen).
For any other queries related to going digital, call the Go Digital Contact Centre on 0800 46 3444 (GO DIGI).
WHEN DO I NEED TO GO DIGITAL?
The migration to digital TV is a huge programme to implement, but South Africa is well on its way. Cutting edge technology, set top boxes and broadcasting signals are currently being tested.
Globally analogue signals will no longer be protected after 2015.
The aim is to kick off roll-out to the public during the first half of 2010 once the following is in place:
broadcasters have new channels ready to broadcast
STBs are in production and are available
To make sure we get it right first time, South Africa will be switching over to full digital broadcast in a phased manner, making sure everything is working properly as we go.
During the period of switch-over starting in 2010, you will be able to track when Digital TV will be in your area in the status block on this site. This function will only be available when going live with switch-over.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
TV viewers will incur a once-off cost to buy a Set Top Box. The free-to-air channels such as SABC and e.tv will continue to be available for free – no subscription fee will be charged. You will still be required to pay your TV licence.
The final price of the STB is still to be determined. Consumers will be informed in due course once STBs have been developed, is available to market and the purchase price has been determined.
CAN’T AFFORD IT?
Government is also developing a Scheme for Ownership Support (SOS) to support poor families that are unable to afford STBs. Once the details of the scheme has been finalised and the scheme is ready to be rolled out, consumers will be informed on criteria for qualification and the application process.