Two South African commercial broadcasters, M-Net and E-tv, have announced they will start a digital terrestrial trial with DVB-T2 broadcasts to a select group of Soweto residents.
The broadcasters have been running digital television trials since 2008, using the Cabinet approved DVB standard. They will expand the existing trials to include the latest version of this standard, known as DVB-T2. A single T2 multiplex can carry up to 18 channels and also gives the scope for HD services to be provided on DTT. India and Kenya are among the countries to have recently indicated that they will be adopting T2 in their migration to digital.
Marcel Golding, Group CEO of e.tv, explained in a statement, “The development of T2 shows that DVB is the right choice for South Africa. T2 is a more efficient version of DVB-T and is available should we choose to use it. The T2 standard recently received the Innovation Award for Content Delivery Technology at IBC, the world’s premier entertainment and media content exhibition.”
M-Net CEO, Patricia Scholtemeyer, said that the T2 signal is now on-air in Johannesburg and trial participants are being recruited in Soweto. “We are aiming for these trials to be as inclusive as possible“, she said. “Once the selected trial participants have had some time to fully experience this technology, we will be inviting the industry bodies, academia and the media to share in the trial experiences and results.”
South Africa’s telecoms regulator ICASA still hasn’t fully embraced DVB-T and the country is reconsidering whether it should adopt Japan and Brasil’s ISDB-T. This is despite its 2006 decision to opt for DVB-T. In 2006, South Africa signed the ITU RRC’06 agreement, confirming the decision to use DVB-T. Broadcasters back the DVB-T standard, because they have been testing the standard for years now and are ready to roll out services within six months.
Meanwhile, E.tv and MultiChoice have been awarded the licences to provide mobile TV by ICASA using DVB-H. “E.tv and MultiChoice did not have other competing bidders with respect to the multiplexes they applied for. As a result, the authority has decided to grant the licences to e.tv and MultiChoice,” ICASA chair Stephen Mncube told reporters in Johannesburg.
The regulator initially aimed to have the digital video broadcasting service up and running in time for the football World Cup. However, the Authority missed their deadline and an invitation to apply was sent out in April this year. Four applications were received from MultiChoice, Mobile TV Consortium, Super 5 Media and E.tv.