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SONA: Govt in push to finalise analogue switch-off

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 10 Feb 2023

President Cyril Ramaphosa says SA’s broadcasting digital migration process has taken quite a long time, but “better late than never”.

Ramaphosa made the comments during his 2023 State of the Nation Address last night, saying the process to migrate the remainder of households to digital television signal will take place during the course of this year.

This is in line with efforts to complete the switch-off of analogue transmission, he noted.

“This will release valuable spectrum for the rollout of 5G mobile networks and reduce the cost of data. These actions will bring us closer to our vision of affordable, high-speed internet access for all.

“This initiative is going to enable even the people in our rural areas to have better connectivity like others in the urban areas.”

Ramaphosa lauded the completion of the spectrum auction that netted R14 billion for the financially-stretched fiscus.

After missing the International Telecommunication Union-mandated June 2015 migration deadline, minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s communications department has made numerous attempts to conclude the country’s digital migration process.

Migrating to digital TV is an important step towards making available the sub-1GB (700MHz-800MHz) 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 last year.

In December, Ntshavheni set 31 March 2023 as the country’s analogue switch-off date, as government looks to finally put to rest the country’s much-delayed digital migration process.