South Africa, Mozambique agree terms for DTT

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 12 June 2015

An agreement to minimize potential radio frequency interference after the switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) has been signed by South Africa and Mozambique.

South Africa's Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said the agreement would benefit citizens in each of the neighbouring states. "All of us should be proud about this bilateral agreement in that it is for the benefits of all our people," said Muthambi. "We've discussed issues pertaining to the potential frequency spectrum interference as a result of the digital migration programme implementation and of course the main objective was to identify issues of mutual interest on cross border interference in order to establish an amicable solution of addressing challenges as and when they arise," she said.

Mozambique's Transport and Communications Minister Carolos Fortes Mesquite said Mozambique has had to wait for some of its neighbouring countries to get ready for digital migration in order to avoid potential radio frequency interference."We are very grateful to have signed this agreement with South Africa as we believe that this will benefit us in terms of sharing of technical knowledge. We are doing all these because we know that digital migration will bring more opportunities for our people," he said.

Sharing migration plans, processes to handle frequency spectrum interference and the release of digital dividend's timing have all formed part of the bilateral discussions. The agreement has already been signed by other countries neighbouring South Africa, namely: Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Minister Muthambi expects to reach agreement with Namibia and Zimbabwe soon.

South Africa's national digital network comprises coverage by DTT transmission to 84% of the population with satellite covering the remaining 16%."The process of rolling out of set-top boxes is aimed at a period of between 18-24 months once the Minister announces dual-illumination period after consulting the Cabinet based on the potential timelines of the availability of (STBs)," said Solly Mokoetle, head of South Africa's Digital Migration Programme.

Professor Americo Muchanga, director general of Mozambique's Communications Regulator, said analogue transmission covers 70% of Mozambique's population, although DTT coverage of 10 major cities and eight border areas is expected by this December.

"Different STB distribution plans are being considered awaiting Cabinet decision and dual-illumination will continue for a minimum of two years," he said. Both countries will miss the ITU's global deadline of 17 June 2015 for migration to digital terrestrial broadcasting.