The switch over to digital TV has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade and many viewers are still in the dark as to what they need to prepare themselves for the change. MUZI MAKHAYE, CEO of ABT Africa sheds some light on the benefits of digital TV
The switchover from analogue to digital television has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade but, as the ITU deadline draws nearer, many viewers are still unsure about why migration is happening, what they will need to do in order to receive the digital signal on their existing television sets and what the benefits of digital television will be for them as consumers.
ABT Africa, one of the providers of the set-top boxes that will be required for viewers to receive the new digital signal on their existing TV sets, is committed to providing more than just the necessary technology. It is also committed to informing viewers about the switchover process so they can enjoy uninterrupted television viewing.
Communication about the switch to digital has been patchy and, as a result, many viewers are still uncertain about how this process will affect them.
Our objective as we move closer to the switchover date is threefold. Firstly, we will provide the very best, high-quality digital terrestrial transmission or DTT set-top boxes that will be needed in order to receive digital signal for existing television sets. We will also ensure that stocks of these STBs are available at all of the necessary points during the roll-out, and will provide post-sales support for customers through a national DTT call centre. Finally, through our communications, we will keep viewers fully informed about the roll-out process.
One of the questions most frequently asked about the change to digital broadcast is why is it necessary. The answer is that the new technology will bring many benefits to viewers across all LSMs, the broadcasters and government.
To start with, the digital television signal will provide viewers with CD-quality audio and crystal-clear picture quality, which will make an immediate difference to their viewing experience. It will avail an increased number of channels, offer greater broadcasting flexibility, and enable more free-to-air operators to enter the broadcast market.
The DTT technology also has the capability to deliver information services directly to the user’s TV. For example, local government could, through an e-government services network, notify targeted households about such issues as planned water and or electricity disruptions at specific times.
While these benefits may seem clear, consumers are still uncertain about whether everyone will need a set-top box and, if so, what the cost of these STBs will be.
Everyone with an existing television set that is not digitally enabled will need an STB. This includes owners of wide-screen or plasma TV sets that aren’t enabled to receive a digital signal as in the iDTVs, for instance.
Similarly, DSTV subscribers will need a DTT set-top box (MNet) if they would like to receive the full bouquet of free-to-air television channels. This is because the satellite technology used by DSTV and the digital terrestrial technology that will be used in broadcast television are incompatible and they offer different broadcast services. More importantly, DTT will be a non-subscription service as opposed to the subscription-based DSTV service.
As for cost, government has recently announced that recipients of social grants will qualify for a 100% subsidy when acquiring an STB, although this benefit will be limited to one set-top box per household. Retail prices have not yet been set, and will depend not only on government guidelines, but also on the model of set-top box the consumer chooses.
ABT will be offering two models, an entry-level model called the ABT Zapper and a top model that offers more features and benefits, such as access to the internet, which is called the ABT Zapper Plus. Both are equipped with advanced security features which will enable them to be deactivated should they be stolen. A PVR-enabling dongle, which will be sold separately, will enable recording, rewinding and fast-forwarding applications to users of both models.
As the switchover to digital will be rolled out progressively, ABT will track the roll-out schedule once it has been announced and will ensure that STBs are available in retail stores in the designated areas.
The change to digital will offer an entirely new viewing experience, and ABT is fully prepared to make the switchover an easy and trouble-free experience for our customers.
Prepare for Digital TV migration
The deadline for the digital migration is fast approaching. JACQUES BENTLEY, Skyworth Southern Africa Sales Manager, lets us know what we can expect.
By now you’ve probably heard about the impending digital migration for South African broadcasting. Initially, this shift from old-school, analogue technology to newer, more efficient digital technology was set to take place in 2015 but the deadline for a national migration has been pushed out several times. With our neighbours Namibia and Botswana blazing ahead with their own digital transformations, the pressure is on for our own government to push forward to a fully digital South Africa.
But what does this overdue switch really mean for you and me?
What is digital migration?
Basically, the process involves moving over from an analogue transmission to a Digital Terrestrial Television/Transmission (DTT). We currently use analogue technology, transmitting video and audio through analogue signals. The drawback of this traditional broadcasting format is that the colours, sound and brightness are heavily impacted by the quality of the signal, resulting in a less-than-ideal snowy effect, and your TV deciding to randomly fade or ghost.
Digital TV, on the other hand, boasts crystal-clear image quality and excellent sound without interference because of its land-based network of TV transmitters that broadcast digital signals. This kind of technology also allows viewers to access a wider range of channels with different programmes.
Why is it happening?
Apart from the fact that everyone wants clearer sound, more channels and an enhanced viewing experience, the conversion to digital TV also has a far-reaching goal that ultimately
aids developing nations like our own. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the objective of Broadcast Digital Transition (BDT) work is to help developing countries with their smooth journey from analogue to digital broadcasting, including terrestrial TV, mobile TV and sound broadcasting. In turn, this means that we can enjoy new broadcasting services as well as an allocation of the digital dividend.
When is it taking place?
June 2019 is D-Day for all countries to have completed their digital migration. Our Communications department is determined to meet this international deadline and has implemented a specific DTT war room to ensure that all the boxes are ticked, and they can deliver on time.
The first province to undergo the digital migration was the Free State back in August, where digital Set-Top Boxes (STBs) were launched in Senekal. Essentially, STBs decode digital signals for old, box-style TV sets and the government aims to distribute these devices to about 5-million poor households, so that all citizens can enjoy prime TV, despite their financial situation. In fact, Skyworth is one of the chosen suppliers of these set-top boxes and is proud to be a core part of an all-inclusive transition to digital.
What can you do about it?
While the government has agreed to subsidise cash-strapped consumers with STBs, the only guarantee is that the digital migration is upon us and it is our responsibility to digitally transform our homes in order to meet the requirements. This means that you’ll either need to invest in a digital-ready TV or purchase your own STB to work with your current TV’s analogue signal. Whichever route you decide to go, you can look forward to exceptional viewing entertainment in the comfort of your own home.
5 things you should ask about buying a new TV
With so many technological advancements that cater to various needs, and endless options on the market, buying a new TV for your home can be pretty daunting. JACQUES BENTLEY, Southern African Sales Manager at Skyworth, offers a few tips when buying a new TV.
Given the role a TV occupies in the home – providing entertainment, relaxation and a window to the world for the whole family – it’s not a purchasing decision to be made lightly. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to spend a rather large sum of hard-earned dough in the process. Fear not – we’re here to help you decide. Here are five important things to think about before you swipe that plastic to ensure your new TV will bring nothing but joy into your home (ok, and maybe a couple of disagreements on what to watch).
- Size matters
If you’re a fan of action-packed movies or nail-biting sporting events, you already know how important the size of the screen is. Consider the space into which your new TV will fit, and take measurements of the wall area or cabinet it’s going to sit on to make sure that you’re being practical about its size. How many people will be watching the TV at the same time? Now opt for the largest screen size that will fit comfortably in your lounge (and your budget). Generally, anything between 55 and 65 inches is a great all-round pick according to price, performance and how close most families sit to the TV.
- Is it digital-ready?
South Africa’s digital migration is upon us and by June 2019, you’ll either need a digital-ready TV that can transmit digital signals or a Set-Top Box to decode digital signals for your old, box-style analogue TV set. The benefits of investing in a digital TV include crystal-clear image quality, excellent sound and a wider range of channels. Ask the sales assistant to show you their range of digital ready TVs when making your selection.
- Does it have a 4K screen resolution?
Resolution refers to the sharpness of the TV picture, usually in terms of horizontal lines of pixels. Ultra HD/ 4K sets have four times more pixels than current Full HD screens. That’s as many as 2 160 horizontal lines, or 3 840 x 2 160 pixels. The result? Super-sharp, detailed and lifelike images, even on large screen sizes. For this reason, a 4K resolution is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a much better choice if you want to future-proof your investment – Skyworth’s G6 model was created with this in mind; it’s basically an Android TV made for the future.
- What will you be using your TV for?
Apart from the obvious activity of chilling out to watch your favourite shows, what else do you want to be able to do with your TV? Will your kids be using it to play games? Will you be streaming shows on it? All of these preferences will impact the specific features that will attract you to buy a certain model over another one, so it’s wise to do your research, either online or in store, before you say ‘yes’ to the device. Also, look out for at least four HDMI ports at the back of the set as these tend to get used up very quickly, especially if you are using accessories like a sound bar.
- Does it include cutting-edge technology?
From Google Voice Assist, allowing you to speak to your TV, to rich connectivity via Bluetooth, selecting a TV that has advanced capabilities makes for a smarter TV and one you aren’t likely to need to replace in a few years’ time. With Android System 6.0, an easily updatable operating system, the G6 TV is your best bet when it comes to constantly upgrading your TV without forking out money every time.