Digital terrestrial television (DTT for short) is about to roll out in South Africa. The first digital broadcasts are planned for the end of the year, marking the start of the country’s march towards what has been called the biggest thing in television technology since colour was introduced all those years ago.
No need to panic, though. True, in due time you will surely want to acquire a new TV set, the one with abbreviation HDTV in its specs.
Because the HDTV in widescreen format (16.9) provides the highest resolution and picture quality of all digital broadcast formats. Combined with digitally enhanced sound technology, it’s just what you want for the new DTT broadcasting.
But there’s one more thing. In order for you to be able to enjoy the soon-to-be-rolled-out DTT broadcast, your set will also need to have a receiver. As far as we know, at present there are no TV sets with built-in DTT receivers in South Africa. The solution comes in the guise of a little, easy to install box known as the Set Top Box (STB). The box will work with both HD and old, analogue TV sets.
The Set Top Box is to be manufactured locally, but don’t go looking for it right now. It did not hit the market yet.
It is expected that South Africa will make the full switch to digital terrestrial broadcasting in 2015. From end 2012 (when the first DTT broadcast is planned to occur) until 2015 (the deadline for the switch, set by the International Telecommunication Union), DTT and analogue broadcasting will coexist. This period is known by the poetic name of dual-illumination.
In case you’re wandering what’s the big deal about this digital terrestrial thingy besides more TV channels and better picture and sound quality, let it be known that the internet future of now not connected South Africans hangs upon it.
DTT will free the frequency spectrum now used for analogue services, making it possible to build cost-effective broadband networks outside the urban areas. Without the analogue-to-digital switch, it would be impossible to bring broadband to all South Africans by 2020, as the government promised to do.
And in case you’re wondering some more, the obligation to pay your TV licence applies to DTT too.