The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) says the switch to digital broadcasting will bring down prices and encourage new broadcasters and television channels.
The regulator yesterday published regulations for the migration.
ICASA councillor William Currie said migration to digital would mean consumers would have a wider choice of channels and providers, and quality would be better.
He said that for the first time South Africans would see 100 percent broadcasting coverage, some of it provided by digital satellite, with ICASA looking to make service universal at fairer prices.
“Many of these areas are not currently covered, partially because it’s too expensive at higher frequencies,” said Mr Currie.
The migration will also provide more spectrum for community broadcasters, as well as freeing up spectrum for three new telecoms operators, one open-access network provider and the four existing operators.
The regulator is to establish an advisory body on digital television content, in order to make sure broadcasters use the extra channels that they are allocated.
Manufacturers for set-top boxes are set to be announced shortly, as the country looks to meet the global June 2015 deadline. ICASA itself has admitted that the country’s hopes of meeting the deadline hang in the balance, with Paseka Maleka, Manager: Media and Stakeholder Liaison, telling HumanIPO that the ongoing battle about set-top box manufacturers meant the future was unpredictable.
He said: “It is possible, but there are other issues involved. We still do not have the set top boxes. There is the possibility (to hit the 2015 deadline), but there also isn’t the possibility.”