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The digital terrestrial television rollout

25 July 2007 News

Digital terrestrial television, more widely known as DTT, is undoubtedly making significant inroads in a world previously dominated by analog transmissions. Together with South Africa's rollout, which is currently in its second year, other countries such as the UK, Italy, Germany, France and Sweden are already enjoying the myriad of benefits that come with DTT.

Indeed, with prominent world bodies such as the European Union recommending that its member states cease to transmit in analog by 2015, South Africa's DTT migration is promising to be one of the most significant technology advancements of recent years.

For one, DTT promises more channels, more language options as well as improved picture quality and sound. It truly symbolises the digital era and allows countries to not only provide more channels but also implement it for educational purposes and value added services.

In SA, Sentech is providing the main infrastructure for the DTT rollout, known as the digital migration rollout plan (DMRP). And with the analog switch-off date set for 1 November 2011, Sentech has a number of critical objectives it must achieve before then.

Says Frans Lindeque, executive, Digital Services at Sentech: "We are on track. Our first important deadline is 1 November 2008 which will see the first phase of DTT switch-on - a target we are confident to meet. This first phase will essentially entail the country's main metropolitan areas, with the second phase earmarked for completion before the FIFA World Cup in 2010. At that time at least 78% of the country's population will have access to DTT services."

Sentech's responsibility regarding the FIFA World Cup, among others, includes the provision of DTT channels which will be broadcasting various matches. Additionally, it is planned to transmit key games and the tournament final in high definition (HDTV) via satellite. Lindeque also adds that Sentech is hoping to make additional channels available for additional match or training coverage during the event.

Prior to the 1 November 2008 deadline, Sentech will also embark on a three-month aggressive testing period which is preceded by the implementation of DTT equipment.

During the switch-on phases there will also be a three-year dual illumination period which will essentially see analog and digital transmissions being simulcast in order to allow viewers time to acquire suitable digital receiving equipment.

DTT promises a great deal to its viewers. "Although some of the real benefits such as terrestrial HDTV will only be evident from 2012, South African viewers can look forward to improved quality and the knowledge that we are up with the world's most technologically advanced countries," says Lindeque.

For more information contact Pranill Ramchander, Sentech, +27 (0)11 691 7256, pranill@sentech.co.za





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