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SADC adopts DVB-T2

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

After the recommendation of the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) Ministers of Information Communication Technology (ICT), the region has selected the Digital Video Broadcasting T2 or DVB-T2, as the digital tTerrestrial broadcasting standard of choice.

According to sources at SADC, the latest version of the European standard was selected over that of the (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting) ISDB-T. Following this recommendation, countries like South Africa and Mozambique, have since adopted the standard. Currently 12 out of 15 SADC countries have adopted DVB.

The shift from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting has seen a global, deadline of 2015. The SADC deadline for analogue switch off is at 31 December 2013. Those who would have not switched to digital television will then need the set top box to achieve viewing capability. However, it is not sure yet how much these set to boxes are to cost, but South Africa has made plans to subsidise the “poorest of the poor.”

The decision to adopt DVB-T2 comes amid other choices such as the ISDB-T used in countries such as Brazil and Japan, after the former adopted and modified the Japanese standard. DVB-T is commonly used throughout Europe and other parts of Africa and has MPEG4 compression.

The predecessor of DVB-T2 was initially accepted by SADC in 2006 and the technological developments into the T2 version were said to be factors contributing to the lengthy decision process experienced in the SADC secretarial corridors. It is also assumed that another factor was that of the lobbying for ISDB-T on behalf of Brazil and Japan.

Meanwhile, media reports confirm that SADC has put together a special team to evaluate and decide on digital TV migration processes for the entire region. The announcement is said to have been influenced by the review committee which had been pondering over the digital TV migration standards in lengthy discussions. Joel Kaapanda, chairperson of the committee, said the decision was based on the deadline approach as well as the fact that other standards had not yet been tested in compliance with the Geneva Agreement.

“This final decision brought relief after concerns were raised when the DVB-T was questioned, as many had already started the migration process. According to information reaching, SADC suggests that those already into the process of migration to DVB-T, although fine for now, will eventually have to switch to the newer version and the regional body is urging those who haven’t to comply with the region’s choice of standard.  

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