Speaking on a panel at the LTE Africa conference in Cape Town yesterday afternoon, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) councillor William Stucke said because the migration had to be done in regional stages the process could take longer than people had expected.
Stucke was sitting on the panel just minutes after it had been announced communications minister Dina Pule had been sacked by President Jacob Zuma.
He said: “South Africa has not yet started the digital migration. Although Multiplex 1 is now covering 80 per cent of the country, officially we have not started.
“The last date that was put forward by the now former communications minister was November 30 for the digital switch on.
“After having done that in the first region we then have to do it in all the other regions. That includes an education process and ensuring set-top box availability and the content being available which makes people want to switch.”
Stucke said the process would be time consuming and “extremely expensive”.
Having been asked by Mark Redman, head of engineering for products and services at Smile Communications, why the regulator was not being more innovative in using the white spaces created by the migration, Stucke said in his opinion they did need to begin allocating it now.
He added: “In my view we should not be waiting until 2015/2017 to assign that digital dividend spectrum which will become available because that process in itself will also be time consuming. We should be doing it now.”