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Go Digital South Africa is a process of taking South Africans to an era of Digital Television that also brings more choice of television channels to ordinary people who view free-to- air television as provided by SABC, e-tv and M-Net. Currently, these services are broadcast in an analogue format. The country is therefore moving these services, including regional television services, from analogue to digital broadcasting. High definition, digital television broadcasting is no longer a privilege of those who are well-off. In 2005 the International Telecommunications Union announced that countries in Africa and other regions must move their television broadcasting to a digital platform. Since then, SENTECH in conjunction with the Department of Communications has been working hard to ensure that all the necessary work is done to enable a smooth transformation of our broadcasting.

Today we have started to educate and tell South Africans about this journey of taking our television broadcasting into a new era of digital broadcasting that will see them receive television of exceptional picture and sound clarity. This process is called GO DIGITAL SOUTH AFRICA, and we urge all South Africans to equip themselves with information on how this process is going to affect them. Today, using all the newspapers and other mediums, we have begun to tell and educate South African about the move to digital television.

1. What does ASO stand for and what does it mean to me?

ASO stands for Analogue Switch-Off. It means that if you watch your TV in the old analogue signal, you will lose your TV network when the transmitter tower is switched off and you will no longer be able to watch your TV programmes. You will need to get your TV connected to the digital TV network.

2. What is digital TV network?

Digital TV is the new system of sending and receiving television that is happening all over the world including South Africa. You can receive digital TV from a Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) or land-based network or a Direct To Home (DTH) satellite network.

3. Why DTT and DTH?

DTT broadcast channels are transmitted by means of television towers spread across the country, typically on top of mountains and other high sites. Sometimes the terrestrial/land signal cannot reach other areas because of it being blocked by mountains and tall buildings, or it may be possible that there is no DTT transmitter erected in the area. The result is that you will not be able to receive the DTT channels. However, do not despair because you will be able to receive your digital broadcasts via satellite DTH network.

4. What do I need to receive DTT and/or DTH digital broadcast channels?

In order to receive these digital TV channels, you will need a digital decoder or what is sometimes called a Set Top Box (STB). This decoder is connected to your existing TV. The decoder will work with all kinds of existing TV sets, old and new.

5. Who needs DTT and who needs DTH?

The digital signal, DTT and DTH, is available all over the country and is in operation. Digital channels from SABC and can be received in High Definition (HD) which is a high-quality crystal-clear signal. Most areas in the country can get a DTT signal coverage and therefore you will need a DTT decoder and outdoor aerial installation. If you live in an area that is not covered by the DTT signal you will need a DTH satellite decoder and dish installation. In general, only some rural areas and places surrounded by high mountains may not have DTT signal coverage – all other places generally have DTT signal coverage.

6. What about my DSTV or OVHD satellite decoder?

DSTV, OVHD and StarSat are already in digital and are suitable for digital TV. You will continue to receive SABC and channels in digital. You will not lose your signal when the analogue network is switched off.

7. I do not have a decoder or I am still receiving on the analogue network. What do I do?

You can apply for a government-subsidized decoder at your nearest Post Office. In order to qualify for the government-subsidized decoder, you will need to present yourself at the nearest Post Office with the following requirements and documents:

You will be able to watch all public channels from SABC and for free. There are also additional entertainment channels available with this decoder. There are no monthly subscription fees.

8. I do not meet the subsidy requirements and I need to be connected to the digital TV network. What do I do?

You can visit any of the retail stores and you have a choice to purchase any of the existing decoders. Those are OVHD (OpenView HD), DSTV or StarSat. Note that OVHD is free, you just need a decoder and a dish installation - there are no monthly subscriptions. StarSat and DSTV have monthly subscription fees and different viewing packages.

In the near future, other decoder models similar to the government-subsidized ones will be available in the stores and they will not have monthly subscription fees.

Another new option that is now available is an Integrated Digital TV (sometimes called IDTV), which does not need a decoder.

9. What is a Digital TV or IDTV?

A Digital TV has a capability to receive the free digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcast channels without a need for an external DTT decoder. You still need an outdoor DTT aerial connected directly to your new digital TV to receive the digital channels.

10. Is a Smart TV an IDTV?

Generally, yes. Most of the smart TVs can display digital TV broadcasts. You will need to check the specifications of the TV or inquire from the manufacturer’s website. If your TV specifications list a “DVB-T2” tuner then your smart TV is a Digital TV and can receive digital broadcast channels.

Smart TVs can also connect to the internet via wi-fi or ethernet cable. If you have a data connection, you can also watch all internet-based video channels like YouTube, Netflix, ShowMax and others.

11. Are Digital TVs available?

Yes, all major retail stores and furniture shops sell Smart Digital TVs. Popular brands are LG, Samsung, Sinotec, Skyworth, JVC, AIM, Sony and so on. Always check the specifications or ask the store salesperson if the TV has a digital or “DVB-T2” tuner. If the salesperson doesn’t know or is unsure, you can contact the manufacturer website or call their call centre for information.

In the near future, all Digital TVs will carry the “Go Digital” logo.

12. How much does a Smart TV or Digital TV cost?

These TVs are now available from 32 inch upwards from most of the popular brands. Starting at 32 inches, starting prices are typically around the R2500 range upwards. Please inquire with your retail store. If you are buying a new TV, it is advisable to insist on a digital TV, but first make sure your area has DTT signal coverage. In general, only some rural areas and places surrounded by high mountains may not have DTT signal coverage – all other places generally have DTT signal coverage.

13. I have a smart TV. How do I know if it is a digital TV?

A list of known digital TV models is available. Please also check with the manufacturer if your smart/digital TV does not appear in the list.

14. I have a Digital TV but I still cannot access digital signals.

Always make sure that the area you live in has a digital terrestrial network. If there is no terrestrial digital coverage, you will still need a satellite decoder, even if your TV is a digital TV. Digital TVs can currently decode and display terrestrial signals only, not satellite signals. If your digital TV has a satellite connection port, you will still need an additional module from the broadcasting service providers to fit into the back of your TV and decode the satellite signals. Broadcasters do not yet support this additional slot-in module, but will do in the near future.

To view whether your area is covered by Digital Terrestrial Television or Direct-to-Home platform please click on the link below and follow the instructions: