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[ On Demand TV ]

DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) - It refers to the broadcasting of terrestrial television in a digital format.

STB (Set top box) - A device that converts digital signals received to analogue video and audio for presentation on a television set.

ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) - A network technology based on transferring data in packets

DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) - Consortium of more that 300 organisations and manufacturers committed to making global standards for delivery of digital television and data services.

iDTV (Integrated Digital Television) - A TV set with a built- in receiver which carries out the functions of a set top box. Such a TV would not need a set top box to display the free to air services..

FTA (Free To Air) - A list of services or bouquet provided by terrestrial broadcaster that does not require a person to pay a subscription to receive or view.

MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) - A group of experts, whose task is to develop and formulate compression standards. South Africa has adopted MPEG4 standards for digital television transmission.

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 a time. It also includes more advanced functionalities, such as the ability to search for programmes by genre.

MUX (Multiplex) - Network of radio spectrum frequencies used to supply DTT

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.

MHEG (Multimedia and Hypermedia Expert Group) - This is a group that defines the model for the presentation of multimedia applications to the STB. Used for interactive services and Teletext. SABC will, in the near future adopt MHEG-5.

SDTV (Standard Definition Television) - Is a digital television format that provides a picture quality similar to digital versatile disk (DVD)

BDM (Broadcasting Digital Migration) - It refers to the process currently underway to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting, this is the term used by the Department of Communications in their policy to describe this process.

ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) - This is the Telecommunications and broadcasting industries’ regulatory body in South Africa.

HDTV (High Definition Television) - A high quality television standard that has greater resolution than standard definition and provides better and more detailed picture quality

BSD (Broadcast Signal Distribution) - Broadcasting signals that are intended for general reception.

DSNG (Digital Satellite News Gathering) - It is normally a mobile unit used to collect content and transmit via satellite. DSNG can also be used for receiving content. It is portable and cost effective for adhoc transmissions.

Audio Visual  AV -   

Home Network - A home network or home area network (HAN) is a residential local area network (LAN) for communication between digital devices typically deployed in the home, usually a small number of personal computers and accessories, such as printers, mobile computing devices and digital TV’s. An important function is the sharing of Internet access, often a broadband service provisioned by fiber-to-the-home or via Cable Internet access, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or mobile broadband by Internet service providers (ISPs).


1. What is DTT?

DTT stands for digital terrestrial television (or digital terrestrial transmission). It refers to the terrestrial broadcasting of 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.

2. What is terrestrial 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 is that you are receiving).

SABC, and M-Net are all terrestrial broadcasters.

3. What is the difference between terrestrial television and satellite television?

These are simply different ways of delivering a broadcasting signal. Satellite television broadcasts using a satellite in the sky. 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).

4. What is the difference between analogue TV and digital TV?

In analogue, the signal is transmitted in the form of electromagnetic waves. This is not the most efficient way of transmitting TV signals - In digital, the signal is encoded  and  can be compressed – this will therefore allow for more channels to be broadcast. Approximately new video channels can be provided in the same frequency as one analogue channel.

5. Why are we migrating from analogue to digital?

There are many reasons for this migration:

Analogue technology is very old and has become expensive to maintain.

Digital technology is more efficient. It allows more channels, better sound, better picture quality and new services we haven’t had before.

Because digital uses radio spectrum more efficiently, it will mean that valuable spectrum can be released and used for other services. Spectrum is scarce, and hence making more efficient use of the spectrum available is necessary if more telecommunications and broadcasting services are to be made available on a terrestrial basis.

The rest of the world is moving to digital and the international body which co-ordinates the use of frequency has decided that analogue will not be protected from interference after 2015. This decision affects South Africa as well.

6. Has this been done elsewhere around the world?

Yes – all countries around the world will do the migration to ensure ongoing co-ordination and protection from interference. Examples of countries that are advanced in their migration process include United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden, United States, France and Mauritius.

7. What is a Set-Top Box  (decoder)?

The set-top box is a receiver that will decode the digital signal to enable the channels to be displayed on your television set. This set-top box will plug-in to your TV set.

8. Why do I need a Set-Top Box?

You need a device which decodes the digital signal received via a standard aerial antenna and supplies the TV set with a video signal. Without the set-top box you will be unable to display the digital television services on your television set.

9. What will the Set-Top Box cost?

Set top boxes vary in price depending on the functionality. With the level of functionality proposed by the Department of Communications, it is estimated that the retail cost of the free-to-air set-top box is in the region of R400-R700.

10. Will I need a satellite dish to receive DTT?

No – you will not need a satellite dish to receive DTT. The satellite signal is not the same as the terrestrial signal which is received using a terrestrial TV aerial.

11. Will I need a new aerial to receive DTT?

Some viewers may require new aerials, or may need to upgrade existing aerials. In some instances aerials may have to be adjusted. At this stage it is unclear who will be affected by such adjustments, but the majority of viewers will not require any changes to their aerial installations.

12. Will I need any other additional equipment to receive DTT?

You will need to have a DTT set-top box (also referred to as a decoder). This DTT set-top box is not the same as the Multichoice satellite set-top box or the current MNet set-top box.

13. Do you need a Set-Top Box to receive the DTT services if you have  DSTV?

DStv is a satellite service. The satellite signal is different from the DTT signal and the two systems are not compatible. DStv subscribers will continue to receive certain free-to-air channels. However, if you wish to receive all the DTT free-to-air services you will have to purchase a DTT set-top box.

14. Where can the Set-Top Box be bought?

Set top boxes aren’t available for sale to the public yet. They will be available before the launch of DTT services.

15. How is the Set-Top Box  installed?

The STB can be installed by you  connecting the cable from the TV aerial to the STB (normally RF-in at the back) and then follow the STB installation menu using the supplied manual.

16. If I have five TV sets in the house, will I need five Set-Top Boxes?

YES: If you want to each TV set to individually view different channels. Other models of STBs that have functionality that allows you to connect more than one TV to the STB could be developed and made available at a later stage. This STB will however be more expensive.

17. Will I need to pay a subscription every month like DSTV or TopTV?

No - The SABC and will continue to be available for free. You will only need to pay a monthly subscription fee if you choose to subscribe to M-Net.

18. When will the Set-Top Box and the new DTT services be available to me?

No launch date has yet been confirmed. The digital network will be rolled out over a period of three years. Therefore, you will need to check when the digital signal will be available in your specific area. Information will be made available on exact areas of coverage and when these will be covered closer to the time of the public launch of the service.

19. What are the benefits of digital TV?

With digital TV you will have access to more channels. SABC and will offer more free-to-air channels, while MNet will offer more pay-TV channels. Other benefits include a better picture and sound quality, access to an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) on your television screen which allows you to view your TV guide on your TV screen. You will also be able to receive additional information services and interactive services on your television set such as games, information services, weather services, etc.

20. Will I need to buy a new television set to receive DTT?

No – most current analogue television sets will be able to receive DTT. The main consideration is that your TV must have an A/V input to ensure that you set-top box can be plugged in to your TV. If you have this, you should be able to use your current TV set. You do not need a high definition (HD) TV, LCD TV or Plasma TV to receive DTT.

In the next few years, there could also be TVs with an integrated set-top box (that means a set-top box already built in with the TV). These are usually called idTVs. However, these are not yet available in South Africa.

21. Will there be high definition TV on DTT?

No plans are yet confirmed but yes - this could be a possibility. .

22. How does a person establish if his TV will be compatible to the Set-Top Box?

The TV set must have audio and video inputs or alternatively must have RF input.

23. What if I cannot afford the Set-Top Box? Does this mean that I will not be able to watch television after analogue switch-off?

Government has announced  its plans to establish a subsidy or incentive scheme to assist households that cannot afford the STB. The proposed subsidy will be 70% of the price of a STB (which was estimated by government to be R700-00). It is anticipated that approximately 5 million South African households will need the subsidy/incentive.

24. How is the Government going to monitor & control the subsidy   rollout?

Government has only recently announced that a subsidy will be made available. It is unclear at this stage how this will be managed or be rolled out.

25. Who are the various role players in the process and what are their specific roles?

Broadcasters -          Terrestrial broadcasters need to migrate their services onto digital. The main affected broadcasters are SABC, and MNet. The broadcasters will be responsible for establishing new services, migrating existing services (SABC 1, 2, 3, and MNet) onto digital, and will play a role in education and awareness. The broadcasters are the most affected parties in the process (apart from consumers) as they will have to manage analogue and digital services during the dual illumination transition period.

Signal Distributors - Signal distributors are responsible for rolling out the digital network infrastructure on behalf of broadcasters. The main signal distributor affected is Sentech, although other signal distributors (such as Orbicom) are  also involved.

Government - is responsible for developing the policy for broadcasting digital migration. They are also responsible for ensuring that funding is available for the subsidy or incentive, and for the development of a manufacturing strategy. 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 Department of Trade and Industry.

ICASA - is the regulator responsible for regulating the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors. ICASA will be ultimately responsible for the frequency planning and allocations and the issuing of licences for digital services. New digital services cannot be launched without a licence or authorization from ICASA.

Manufacturers - will be responsible for manufacturing the STBs and to ensure that the STBs they develop are compliant with the standards set and work as required.

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 the STBs.

Consumers - will be responsible for ensuring that they have the information they need to make informed choices and to ensure that they have the necessary STB before the analogue signal is switched off.

Home Network Providers -  A home network or home area network (HAN) is a residential local area network (LAN) for communication between digital devices typically deployed in the home, usually a small number of personal computers and accessories, such as printers and mobile computing devices. An important function is the sharing of Internet access, often a broadband service provisioned by fiber-to-the-home or via Cable Internet access, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or mobile broadband by Internet service providers (ISPs).

If an ISP only provides one IP address, a router including network address translation (NAT), proxy server software and typically a network firewall, allows several computers to share the external IP address. The router function may be assumed by a PC with several network interfaces, but a dedicated router device is more common, often including a wireless access point, providing WiFi access.

Digital Television Lingo


Home Networks  - -  South Africa is following international trends:

By 2016, 95% of all U.S. households with Internet service will also be equipped with home network routers, creating a market for technical assistance, says research firm Parks Associates. About 78% of U.S. broadband households had a home network router in 2012, up from 54% in 2009, says Parks Associates.