SADC fosters digital TV migration

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The switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting by the end of 2015 will free up an extraordinary amount of spectrum, as a result of the better transmission efficiency of digital technology.

This is according to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which says depending on the market assessment, policymakers can opt on one of the available three digital transitions options which are a straight to digital switch on go digital ready and set switch on date, and dual illumination.

The organisation says the realisation of the full benefits of the digital dividend spectrum can only be achieved with the active cooperation and support of SADC member states and all stakeholders, and if a common approach is adopted to spectrum planning and management.

This move is an opportunity to meet the fast growing demand for wireless communications services and it opens up sufficient spectrum for broadcasters to significantly develop and expand their services while at the same time ensuring that other important social and economic uses, such as broadband applications have access to this valuable resource, the organisation says.

“It is our belief that early awareness on this issue is crucial to facilitate and assist the stakeholders to enjoy a smooth transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and be able to enjoy the significant quantifiable benefits to the socio-economic environment that the digital broadcasting will bring to our region,” it says.

SADC calls on policymaker and governments to issue legal and commercial documents that will govern the importation of TV sets and procedures to be followed by the industry in importing and selling TVs, to disseminate information and determining as crucial time tables.

This covers the date from which the member governments required sellers of television receiving equipment that does not include a digital tuner to disclose at the point-of-sale that such devices include only an analogue tuner, and therefore will require a digital-to-analogue converter box to receive over-the-air broadcast television after the transition date, it says.

According to SADC, retailers must inform consumers by prominently displaying the following text if they are selling TV equipment with only an analogue tuner. “This television receiver has only an analogue broadcast tuner and will require a converter box after, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the nation's transition to digital broadcasting.”

It says analogue-only TVs should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products.

It also advises retailers to inform consumers if they are selling digital TV equipment by displaying labels or markings may contain the words 'integrated digital tuner' or 'digital tuner built-in'.

SADC region decided all television broadcasting stations switchover from analogue format and broadcast in digital format by 31 December 2013.

This switchover date was set earlier than the International Telecommunications Union agreed switchover date of June 2015 in order to allow the SADC region to have adequate time to address any challenges relating to the roll out of the digital broadcasting services.

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