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Date: 08 May 2012
Title: Digital migration process on track - Pule
Pretoria - The Department of Communications is on course with the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) process, says Minister Dina Pule.
Briefing Parliament during her Budget Vote on Tuesday, the minister said substantial progress had been made in the implementation of the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy.
In February 2012, final amendments to the Broadcasting Migration Policy were published in the government gazette.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has started with the process of finalising DTT regulations, with the final gazette expected to be published in June 2012.
The SABS Standard, according to which locally manufactured Set Top Boxes (STBs) will be built, has been completed. It is currently undergoing public consultation and will be finalised by the end of May 2012.
Pule was confident that there would be enough capacity to manufacture STBs locally to cater for both local consumer needs and export opportunities.
"We shall finalise the selection process of suitable Set-Top Box manufacturers in the first quarter of this financial year. This is an important area of job creation for us. We will expect that to create an estimated 23 500 jobs across the value chain," she said.
Migrating to digital broadcasting would also increase the demand for content as there would be an increase in the number of channels available to broadcasters, she noted.
"We anticipate that communities and individuals will seize this opportunity to tell their own stories to the world," she said.
A DTT awareness campaign has also been launched to educate South Africans on digital broadcasting.
Three flagship programmes, which were at the core of building digital information and knowledge society, have been prioritised for the current financial year. These include the acceleration of building a modern digital infrastructure as well as the policy reforms, which position the country for an advanced knowledge economy in 2030.
These programmes are:
- developing a National Integrated ICT Policy;
- rolling out a national broadband network; and
- implementing the digital broadcasting migration policy.
These programmes are aligned to the government's goals of building a developmental state, she said.
With regards to broadband infrastructure, Pule noted that broadband was an essential digital resource for accessing basic services, products, commerce and job creation.
"Given the strategic importance of this enabling infrastructure, the DOC [Department of Communications], together with the ICT industry, have committed to delivering 100% broadband penetration and delivering a million jobs by 2020," she said.
Estimates put penetration at 2% for fixed-line broadband, around 4% for mobile PC broadband and 17% for broadband penetration using smartphones.
Pule said these statistics were far from satisfactory.
"We have to find practical solutions to fast track the uptake and usage of broadband services by the majority of our people. We have thus decided to conduct a study into broadband coverage, penetration and speed in South Africa."
Stabilising state owned companies remained a key priority for the department, she added, with the goal being to ensure that by 2014, all the department's entities achieve clean audits.
With regards to the SABC, Pule said she was happy with the progress made after the board appointed the executive leadership. The public broadcaster's turnaround strategy was yielding positive results, she noted.
Pule, however, acknowledged the affordability of communication services remained a challenge.
"Everyone in the ICT sector has a contribution to make in building affordable ICT infrastructure. One of the key and immediate contributions we can make is to have honest, open and progressive discussions about how we can lower the cost to communicate," she said, adding that work was underway to achieve this. - BuaNews