South Africa is part of a small list of countries that have failed to even get out of the starting blocks regarding digital migration, according to an international body, writes GARETH VAN ZYL.|South Africa is part of a small list of countries that have failed to even get out of the starting blocks regarding digital migration, according to an international body, writes GARETH VAN ZYL.
In 2006, South Africa and other countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa committed to meeting an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deadline to switch over to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting on June 17 2015. The ITU is a specialised agency tasked by the United Nations to focus on information and communication technologies.
Digital migration involves shifting broadcasters from analogue to digital signals, and the process is key for opening up more frequencies and faster mobile broadband services.
South Africa’s digital migration process has however been stalled by disagreements among broadcasters. Also, President Jacob Zuma’s splitting of the former Department of Communications last year reportedly resulted in a turf war among ministries over the control of the digital migration process.
Subsequently, the ITU lists South Africa among nations that have failed to even start a digital migration process. South Africa then joins non-starter digital migration countries which include Armenia, Bangladesh, Belize, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone and Turkey.
Namibia and Turkey are reported to have started their digital migration processes in the meantime. However, Sanjay Acharya – who is the chief of media relations and public information at the ITU – told Fin24 that the ITU’s data on non-starters is based on regular updates from administrators in each country.
Consequences for countries that have missed the ITU digital migration deadline include having to deal with signal clashes between analogue and digital, Acharya said.
“They will have an obligation to immediately resolve any harmful interference that may occur, either affecting neighbouring countries that have implemented the transition or emanating from other sources,” he told Fin24.
“And they will have abrogated their right to international protection,” Acharya said.
The risk of signal interference in South Africa is highest along the country’s borders. ITU data already indicates that Mozambique has completed its digital migration process, while the process is ongoing in Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The ITU data further states that Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi are the only African countries to have confirmed that they have completed their digital migration projects. These countries have joined the likes of Western Europe, the US and Australia in achieving digital migration success.
Meanwhile, other African countries where the ITU says the digital migration process is still ongoing include: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Government speaks up
Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi released a statement this week regarding the ITU deadline.
News24 reported that Muthambi conceded that South Africa will miss the ITU’s digital migration deadline, and that there is a risk of signal disruptions along South Africa’s borders.
However, in a bid to reduce the risk of signal interference, Muthambi said she had signed agreements of cooperation with Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. The minister added that Namibia and Zimbabwe are finalising their agreements with South Africa.
Muthambi further said that there would be no “major negative impact” on South Africa’s analogue television services near the country’s borders.
“The digital migration project management office is hard at work to ensure that set-top boxes are manufactured and delivered to complete the migration process,” said Muthambi.
Set-top boxes are the devices needed to decode digital signals for analogue television sets.
Earlier this year, Fin24 reported that 26 bidding organisations have each won a piece of South Africa’s R4.3bn set-top box tender.
State agency the Universal Services and Access Agency of South Africa is tasked with ensuring that 5 million poorer households receive the subsidised set-top boxes.
Kia makes car audio personal
KIA Motors has revealed its Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) technology that allows each passenger of a vehicle to experience an audio stream tailored to their individual needs.
SSZ technology creates and controls the acoustic fields of the car, allowing the driver and each passenger to hear isolated sounds. The many speakers installed in the vehicle feature technology that uses scientific principles to reduce or increase audio levels of sound waves. This negates the overlap of sounds being heard in each seat, creating the same effect as current noise cancellation systems, but without the need for headphones.
“Customers in the autonomous navigation era will demand increasingly customisable entertainment options within their vehicles, which includes technological innovations such as the Separated Sound System.” says Kang-duck Ih, Research Fellow at KIA’s NVH Research Lab. “I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment.”
People’s musical tastes vary, so some passengers choose to use headphones during a journey to isolate their audio stream, but this also creates an unnecessary social barrier when interacting with other passengers. When travelling in a vehicle equipped with next-generation SSZ technology, each passenger can connect their smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to their own music without interference from, or interfering with other passenger’s audio streams.
When the SSZ is utilised, hands-free phone calls can also be isolated to individual passengers, ensuring privacy when having important phone conversations on the move.
Furthermore, this ground-breaking technology can eliminate unnecessary sounds for the passenger, but provide them for the driver. Navigation sounds, or various alerts, allow the driver to focus on controlling the vehicle, while the SSZ system isolates these sounds, maintaining a quiet area for the other passengers. This has a particularly strong application for drivers with a sleeping child in the vehicle.
SSZ technology has been in development since 2014, and the completed mass production system is expected to be ready for installation in vehicles within one to two years.
For a video of Separated Sound Zone technology, please visit https://youtu.be/lokXL8qyu1c.
Future of TV in 4 letters
Television technology has come a long way, transforming not just the way we consume our entertainment, but also the formats in which media is broadcasted or streamed. Today, TVs can do a lot more than just display our favourite shows, says DEAN DAFFUE, GTM manager at LG Electronics SA.
Today, consumers demand TVs that are not just slim, but so thin that they are like paintings on walls. TVs have become an element of décor that can seamlessly integrate into the design of a home, and render the clearest, sharpest images, with the deepest blacks and crispest whites without compromising on resolution. Home cinema is not just about the picture anymore. Consumers are eyeing TVs that would be able to learn usage patterns and automatically suggest entertainment based on individual preferences. The switch from LCD to LED transformed TV design, allowing for lighter, thinner and easily wall-mountable frames, housing even more sophisticated display tech. The picture quality also dramatically improved with new contrast ratios rendering more vivid colours, deeper blacks and crisper whites. But they were still more functional than aesthetic.
As larger segments of the population embraced internet connectivity and streaming content, the TV became smarter, integrating content-streaming apps for a more seamless viewing experience. As Internet Service Providers (ISPs) upgraded their infrastructures to accommodate the growth in streaming services, TV manufacturers also upgraded their TVs’ ability to tap into different types of content.
In the future, TVs with built in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to learn usage patterns and automatically switch modes based on user preference, and even take instructions from multiple users as TVs become increasingly connected to digital home assistant systems.
Six years on, and we see the evolution that continues to lead in the OLED TV market, LG is racking up awards and accolades for its innovative OLED TVs. This pioneering effort in the design and manufacturing of OLED TVs has culminated in complete dominance of the OLED market, leaving the pinnacle challenge of innovation in display technology, redefining the TV viewing experience, and its place in your home. Great efforts have been made on OLED technology being affordable and accessible, allowing more people to enjoy a better-quality television experience than before. No TV is a greater testament to this than last year’s award-winning LG SIGNATURE W7 – also known as wallpaper.
As South Africans are continuously looking for ‘an experience that amazes’, OLED TVs are considered by industry experts to offer the most advanced display technology. As each pixel on the display can be individually switched on and off, OLED offers enhanced picture quality without image degradation. This results in the highest quality image rendering with the purest blacks. With its myriad advantages, OLED panels have become the most desired display technology today and it has become a leading force in making this technology even more ubiquitous and accessible.
With support for both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, LG OLED TV is the first of its kind to offer a premium cinema experience in the comfort of your home. It also features Active HDR technology, which optimises HDR picture quality scene-by-scene, rendering brighter scenes and greater shadow detail for a life-like viewing experience.
Despite the market dominance, the development of newer, more innovative technologies does not stop. This year a staggering number of innovative display technologies were unveiled, such as future display technology like roll-able OLED screens and large format curved displays that will become the future of wall art.
AI is also set to make an appearance. There is a unique and personalised AI services built on the deep learning-based DeepThinQ technology, in cooperation with other AI service providers such as Google, giving AI TVs the ability to automatically adjust the settings to Game Mode, or Sports Mode based on whether a user is currently playing Xbox or watching a football match. Ultimately, AI TV will provide care and comfort to users’ mind and body by learning more about its users’ viewing habits.
What does this all mean for consumers? With continued innovation and development of display technologies, as well as advanced design, AI, premium audio integration and support for the latest resolutions, colour and High Dynamic Range (HDR) standards, the TV will no longer be a display, but a complete home viewing experience. This is what new ranges of OLED TVs will bring to fruition in the coming months, making it the ideal time to upgrade your TV to the ultimate home entertainment experience.