Communications minister Mondli Gungubele has gazetted the deadline for the analogue switch-off (ASO), as government attempts to finalise the delayed broadcasting digital migration (BDM) programme.
In a Government Gazette, Gungubele has set 31 July as the date for switching off all analogue broadcasting services above 694MHz.
In addition, the minister has set 31 December 2024 as the end of the dual-illumination period and the date to switch-off the remaining analogue broadcasting services below the 694MHz frequency.
“All remaining analogue broadcasting services should be temporarily accommodated below the 694MHz frequency,” says Gungubele. “All digital broadcasting services operating above the 694MHz frequency must also be returned to operate on frequencies below 694MHz, in order to clear broadcasting services from 694 to 862MHz frequency band.”
South Africa’s BDM programme is one that has bedevilled government for more than a decade, plagued by numerous controversies that have further bogged down the process.
After missing the International Telecommunication Union-mandated June 2015 migration deadline, the communications department has made numerous attempts to conclude the country’s BDM process.
Migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) is an important step towards making available the sub-1GB radio frequency spectrum bands occupied by the analogue TV signals.
These spectrum bands were licensed during telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s “historic” spectrum auction in March 2022.
Access to high‐demand spectrum will help mobile operators provide faster and more widespread high-speed data services. On the consumer front, it would mean making affordable data available to firms and households.
After the Constitutional Court ruled that further consultation with stakeholders was necessary before proceeding with the analogue switch-off, Gungubele indicated that his department had begun “extensively engaging” with the various stakeholders and role-players regarding the transition from analogue to DDT.
Delivering his department’s budget vote in May, the minister noted that five provinces – Free State, Northern Cape, Northwest, Limpopo and Mpumalanga – have already switched-off and are currently receiving television broadcast on digital platform.