What is DTT?
DTT stands for Digital Terrestrial Television or Digital Terrestrial Transmission. It refers to the broadcasting of terrestrial television in a digital format. Currently, terrestrial broadcasting in South Africa is broadcast in an analogue format. The country is in the process of planning and implementing migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.
What is the difference between terrestrial television and satellite television?
Terrestrial television uses a network of transmission towers to relay the signal across the country. Each transmission tower has a specific area of coverage, and it is the network of coverage that provides television signals across the country. The broadcast signal is sent to the various towers and if you are within the area covered by a tower, then you will be able to receive the broadcast services via a terrestrial aerial which is usually placed on your roof or on your television set (depending on how strong the signal that you are receiving is).
Satellite television broadcasts uses a satellite in space. The broadcast signal is sent to the satellite and you receive a signal via a satellite dish. A single satellite usually covers a large area (for example the PAS 10 satellite covers the whole of Africa).
What is the difference between analogue TV and digital TV?
In analogue TV, one channel (such as SABC 1) uses a dedicated frequency to broadcast. This is because of the large amount of bandwidth the analogue signal requires.
In digital, however, the signals can be compressed. This will therefore allow for more channels to be broadcast in the same bandwidth as one current analogue channel uses.
The digital era will release valuable Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum (bandwidth) which can be used for other services, that is, making more efficient use of the spectrum available for more telecommunications and broadcasting services.
Why are we migrating from analogue to digital?
In 2006, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) resolved that all countries in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Islamic Republic of Iran (region one) should migrate from analogue to digital broadcast services by June 2015. South Africa is one of the signatories of the treaty.
South Africa also co-ordinates its frequency plans with other countries to ensure that there is no interference between various countries. Currently analogue broadcasting is protected from interference, but this protection ceased in June 2015.
Has this been done elsewhere around the world?
Yes: Examples of countries that are advanced in their migration process include United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden, United States, France, Namibia, Tanzania, Mauritius and Kenya. All countries around the world will do the migration to DTT to ensure ongoing co-ordination and protection from interference.
What do I need to get DTT?
You need an Set Top Box (STB), this will depend on the type of access in your area whether its DTT or DTH. This information will be made available in due course.
What is a STB?
A STB is a device that will decode the digital signal to enable the channels to be displayed on your television set. This STB will plug into your TV set. It is also referred to as a decoder.
Why do I need a STB?
Although you will be able to receive the signal through your aerial, without the STB you will be unable to display the digital services on your television set. The STB decodes the digital signal received via a standard aerial antenna and supplies the TV set with a video signal.
Where can the STB be purchased?
The STB will be available for purchase at most major retail outlets in the country.
What should I look for when buying a STB?
All STBs will carry the SABS quality mark and the ‘GO DIGITAL’ logo to ensure conformity throughout the country.
If I have five operational TV sets in my possession, will I need five STB’s?
Yes; however only If you want each TV set to individually view different channels at the same time.
Will I need a satellite dish to receive the digital signal?
This will depend on the economic and geographical factors in signal distribution; the terrestrial signal will not be able to cover 100% of the population. Certain areas and regions in the country will receive the digital signal via Direct to Home (DTH) satellite transmission.
Will I need a new aerial to receive DTT?
Viewers will require a wide band UHF (Ultra High Frequency) aerial to receive the DTT transmissions. The aerial currently used to receive SABC1, 2 & 3 will not work as these are VHF (Very High Frequency) aerials.
Will I need to pay a subscription fee every month like DSTV?
No. The purchase of the STB is a once-off cost. There will be no monthly subscription cost to receive the Fee-to Air (FTA) services offered by SABC and other FTA broadcasters. However, as prescribed in the Broadcasting Act 4 of 1999, you will still have to continue paying your TV license.
Will this migration only affect SABC?
No: The migration will affect all the South African broadcasting houses including eTV, MNet and other community and regional broadcasters as well.
What are the benefits of digital TV?
With digital TV you will have access to more channels on a FTA basis. This will be in addition to the current FTA services offered. The SABC intends to make available a range of new public services, including interactive and information services as well as access to all SABC Radio Services anywhere in the country.
A better picture and sound quality, and access to an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) allowing you to view your TV guide on your TV screen.
Transmission of High Definition (HD) pictures.
Will I need to buy a new television set to receive the digital signal?
No. The STB is designed to receive the digital television signal and vonvert it to an analog signal that will work with your existing analog Tv.
Will I be able to watch DTT if I only have a satellite dish?
Yes, however the dish must be pointed at the correct satellite (Pas 20) and you will have to buy the correct DTH set top box to connect to the dish.
Will there be HD TV on DTT?
How does a person establish whether their TV will be compatible to the STB?
The TV set must have audio and video inputs or a RF input (used to connect the TV aerial to) or a HDMI input.
Who are the various role players in the process and what are their specific roles?
The Broadcasters: Terrestrial broadcasters need to migrate their services onto digital. The main affected broadcasters are the SABC, eTV, MNet and community and regional TV stations. They will be responsible for establishing new services, migrating existing services (SABC channels, eTV and MNet) onto digital, and will play a role in the education and awareness of their viewers about the impending migration and the advantages thereof. The broadcasters will have to manage analogue and digital services during the dual illumination transition period.
Signal Distributor: Sentech, the DTT signal distributor is responsible for rolling out the digital network infrastructure on behalf of broadcasters.
Government: Is responsible for developing the policy framework for digital migration. They are also responsible for ensuring that funding is available for the subsidy or incentive for qualifying households, and for the development of the infrastructure and manufacturing strategy of STBs. The Department of Telecommunications & Postal Services in conjunction with the Department of Communications is driving this process on behalf of government and will work with other government departments such as the National Treasury and Trade and Industry.
ICASA: Is the regulator responsible for regulating the telecommunications and broadcasting industry. ICASA will be ultimately responsible for the frequency planning and frequency allocations as well as the issuing of licences for digital services. New digital services cannot be launched without a licence or authorisation from ICASA.
Manufacturers: They will be responsible for manufacturing the STB’s and to ensure that the boxes they develop are compliant with the SABS standards.
Retailers: The retail industry will play a role in ensuring that the STBs are available for purchase by the public and to provide accurate information to consumers so that they can make the right choices when purchasing STBs. This includes other organizations such as the South African Post Office who will be responsible for the distribution of the subsidized STBs.
Consumers: Will be responsible for ensuring that they have the information they need to make informed choices and to have the necessary STBs before the analogue signal is switched off.
DTT and RADIO
What does DTT mean to SABC Radio?
DTT is not in any way a replacement for the current SABC FM broadcasting network but adds great value to the spectrum if it is included in the service offering. With the SABC radio services on the SABC DTT platform, all SABC radio services will be available to all listeners country wide via their DTT set top boxes and TV receiver.
What are the implications of digital migration on Radio?
Digital Migration only affects analogue television. There are currently no plans to replace FM services, which will still be around for quite some time.
BDM - Broadcasting Digital Migration:
It refers to the policy process currently underway by the Department of Telecommunications and Communications. The migration is in line with international standards and trends.
BSD - Broadcast Signal Distribution:
Broadcasting signals that are intended for general reception.
DTT - Digital Terrestrial Television/Transmission:
It refers to the broadcasting of terrestrial television in a digital format. The digital signals can be received using a standard aerial for TV.
DTH – Direct-to-Home (satellite transmission):
It refers to the broadcasting of the digital television signal via satellite. DTH will be used in areas where the terrestrial television signal is very poor or nonexistent.
DVB - Digital Video Broadcasting:
Is a consortium of more than 300 organisations and manufacturers committed to making global standards for delivery of digital television and data services.
EPG - Electronic Program Guide:
A guide showing programmes that can be displayed on a TV set using an STB. It displays the now and next programmes or TV schedule for a day or more at atime. Reminders to tune to a specific program can also be set on the EPG.
FTA - Free-to-Air:
Television and / or radio services provided by broadcasters that does not require the viewer to pay a subscription fee to receive the TV or radio services.
HDTV in widescreen format (16:9) provides the highest resolution and picture quality of all digital broadcast formats. Combined with digitally enhanced sound technology, HDTV sets new standards for sound and picture quality in television.
ICASA - Independent Communications Authority of South Africa:
This is the telecommunications and broadcasting industries’ regulatory body in South Africa.
iDTV - Integrated Digital Television:
A TV set with a built- in DVB-T2 DTT receiver which carries out the functions of a STB. Such a TV would not need a STB to display the DTT free to air services available.
ITU - International Telecommunications Union:
Is the United Nations specialised agency for Information and Communications Technologies (ITCs). They allocate global radio spectrum and satellite orbits as well as develop the technical standards to ensure that the networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect worldwide.
MHEG - Multimedia and Hypermedia Expert Group:
This is a group of experts that defines the model for the presentation of multimedia applications to the STB, and is used for interactive services and Teletext. South African broadcasters have adopted MHEG-5 SA as the standard for interactive services in South Africa.
MPEG - Moving Picture Experts Group:
A group of experts, whose task is to develop and formulate compression standards. South Africa has to adopt MPEG4 as the compression standard for TV broadcasting in South Africa.
MUX - Multiplex:
A system that combines more than one TV service into a digital stream on a single RF frequency.
RF - Radio Frequency:
A signal that is used to carry all the information through the air towards the receiver or the STB. The signal is normally in electromagnetic waves which can create a conductive path through the air.
SDTV - Standard Definition Television:
Is the basic level of quality display, and resolution for both analogue and digital. Transmission of SDTV may be either the traditional (4.3) or widescreen (16.9) format. SDTV typically does produce better quality images than that of traditional analogue TV. However, its images are not nearly as sharp as the images from high definition digital television.
STB - Set top box:
A device that converts digital signals received either via terrestrial or satellite to normal analogue video and audio for presentation on an analogue television set.