Last call for registrations of subsidized set-top boxes

Friday, July 8, 2022

As government attempts to conclude the analogue switch-off, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, has encouraged the public to switch from analogue TV to compliant digital television sets.

This as the Minister intends to publish through a government gazette a public notice of the 30th of September 2022 as the closing date for applications and registrations for government subsidized set-top boxes for qualifying indigent households.

“The call for applications for Government subsidized Set-Top-Boxes (STBs) commenced in October 2015 and I previously set a provisional deadline of 31st October 2021.

“The 31st of October 2021 deadline was provisional as qualifying households could still apply for STBs after, but the 30th of September 2022 is the final deadline, and no applications will be considered after this date,” the Minister said on Thursday.

Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria on the constitutional court decision to conclude Digital Migration, Ntshavheni noted that there was a decline in STBs applications and registrations in recent months.

Last month, the Constitutional Court set aside the Gauteng high court decision of switching of analogue by the end of June 2022.

“The Court held that Analogue switch-off is an urgent national priority and therefore, once adequate notice is given to the public to make informed decisions on whether to register for an STB, digital migration should proceed without further delay,” the Minister said.

“The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) analogue transmission has been switched-off in the five provinces of the Free-State, Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces. This enabled Sentech to complete the restacking of spectrum bands for completion of digital migration in the five provinces.

“Therefore, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is continuing with the release of the auctioned the high demand spectrum in these five provinces in accordance with ICASA plans,” Ntshavheni said.

The release of the spectrum in the five migrated provinces will enable the telecommunication network operators to decongest the networks with the deployment of 4G and 5G networks.

However, until such time that the analogue switch-off (ASO) is achieved in the provinces of Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, digital migration cannot be completed, and the auctioned spectrum cannot be released.

“Against the end of October 2021 registrations, all provinces have been completed except the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape that were affected by the floods. As of the 30 June 2022, a total of 94, 113 beneficiary households remain unconnected in the two provinces albeit connections are continuing at a slow pace.

“We commenced with installations for households that registered by the end of March 2022 in the five provinces that have completed installations of 31 October 2021 registrations except Western Cape and North-West are yet to commence,” the Minister said.

To date government has installed STBs to 56 354 households that registered by the end of March 2022 with Free State and Northern Cape already on mop-up stages.

“We will commence connecting the end of June registrations as and when we complete end of March registrations in provinces. The total number of households that registered between 1 November 2021 and 31 March 2022 is 260 268.

This translates to an average of 52 000 registrations per month over a five month period between November and March.

The total number of registered households between April 2022 and June 2022 is 49 385, and this translates to an average of 16, 461 registrations per month, therefore representing a decline in STB applications and registrations.

The Minister said she intends to publish a government gazette informing the public on the closing date for applications and registrations for government subsidized set-top boxes for qualifying indigent households.

“Through this notice, I am informing members of the public and non-indigent households who are still watching analogue TV, of my intention to switch-off analogue and urge them to purchase compliant digital television sets from retail market. The compliant digital TV set is identified through the Go-Digital logo,” Ntshavheni said. –