Digital Switchover to DVB-T in South Africa

With the digital terrestrial pilot signals live for some time now and South Africa’s digital switchover imminent it is time to have a look at what we can expect as consumers. For now we ignore the noise being made around dropping DVB-T since at this stage with the signals already operating it would be crazy to slow our move to digital television. I suspect that even if South Africa picks up ISDB the DVB-T signal will run in conjunction.

South Africa - DVB-T - Digital Television Aerial


The following questions about digital TV should help you get more comfortable with the digital switchover in South Africa and if you are in the coverage area you might even want to give it a try already since it is already far better than analogue TV not only in AV quality but also in channel variety.

1. Do I need a need a new aerial/antenna

Not likely if you already receive ETV or Mnet, DVB-T is in the UHF spectrum in South Africa however digital signals are more sensitive and you may need to align your aerial correctly or upgrade to a better one if the signal is weak. Remember you should point the antenna towards the tower and try to have line of sight

2. What Codec will South Africa use?

South Africa will encode all digital TV streams in MPEG4, at this stage the signal is not encrypted but this is subject to change. (DSTV is encrypted of course)

3. Will I need a new TV

No, you will however need a DVB-T set top box to receive the signal, some newer television sets can receive dvb-t signals however you should not rush out to buy a new television until the launch is official and the details can no longer change.

4. Why bother with all this Digital Stuff

In short more channels can be placed in the same amount of spectrum and new features like EPG will be available. You can also expect a better quality picture and sound. It will also allow traditional channels to be broadcast in HD.

5. When Will South Africa go live with DTT

It was originally expected to happen in 2010 however the recent debates around ISDB have put everything on hold and at this stage it would be pointless trying to predict an official launch date. That should not put you off giving it a try though if you are covered by the test signal.

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