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Call for beneficiary households to register for subsidised STBs

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The South African Post Office (SAPO) is urging qualifying households to apply for government-subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) at their nearest post office as soon as possible.

This, after the communications ministry said households will be given until end-October to register for STB subsidies, as the country prepares to switch off all analogue transmission and go digital.

In a statement, SAPO says qualifying households that apply before 1 November will receive a decoder before the analogue television signal is switched off. However, those that apply after 1 November will only receive a decoder later, it states.

“All South African households with an income of R3 500 per month or less and a working television set qualify for a government-subsidised set-top box.”

The statement notes that when visiting their nearest post office branch, qualifying beneficiaries must provide a South African ID, proof of address, an affidavit to confirm the family has a working television set, as well as proof that the family income is R3 500 per month or less.

However, if beneficiaries receive a social grant, they do not need to bring proof of income.

After missing several self-imposed deadlines, government has set a new plan in place to complete the analogue switch-over by March 2022.

South Africa is playing catch-up on digital migration, as it is lagging behind the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-mandated migration deadline by almost seven years.

The country missed the ITU’s mid-2015 deadline of complete switch-over due to a series of missteps, including controversies and leadership changes in the department that delayed the process.

To ensure indigent households are not left behind, government has committed to subsidise the digital migration resources that are required. These resources include STBs, which are required to convert digital broadcasting signals on analogue TV sets.

In order to receive the STBs, qualifying households are required to register for these devices at their nearest SAPO branch.

According to SAPO, once a beneficiary’s application has been approved, the information is given to state signal distributor Sentech to appoint a local installer to install the set-top box.

It states: “The SA Post Office is aware that some families registered for a set-top box at the beginning of the campaign, but the installation has not been done yet. Installations are done per province and appointment of local installers is done by Sentech via local municipalities.

“There is no need to re-register to make sure you receive a set-top box. Even if your local post office is very busy with grant payments, rest assured if you apply for a subsidised set-top box, you will go into a separate queue. If you are a SASSA beneficiary and you have a working television set, remember that you qualify for the subsidised set-top box.”

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