Thousands of KwaZulu-Natal residents will not have access to television should government go ahead with its plan to shut down analogue transmission by next week.
Briefing the media on Friday, Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said the damage caused to the infrastructure by the floods made it impossible to install set top boxes in some of the province’s areas.
“It should be remembered that some houses are on unsuitable land — so if you try to install something, you risk collapsing the houses.
“The destruction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges mean that our installation teams are not able to reach certain communities. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do as a department about that. We just have to wait for the infrastructure to be repaired,” she said.
The department has until Tuesday to conclude its digital migration programme.
Ntshavheni said failure to meet that deadline would have a dire consequence for the country.
“Delays will have a crippling effect on the economy,” he said.
Television broadcaster, eTV, which argues that the Tuesday deadline for the country to switch off its analogue transmission will result in citizens who currently do not have set top boxes being unable to access TV stations, is challenging the deadline in the Constitutional Court.
Ntshavheni said the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) would not be able to release the much-needed spectrum for better connectivity unless the migration happened.
“We are eagerly awaiting the ConCourt decision on the analogue switch-off date for us to conclude broadcast digital migration. This will allow us to release spectrum in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Eastern Cape,” Ntshavheni said.
“Unfortunately, until the analogue switch-off, the country’s economic hubs of Gauteng and KZN will remain with poor network connectivity, with a negative impact to the economy,” he said
The migration, Ntshavheni said, also made it possible for the government to roll out its programme to provide 10GB of free data to every household within the next three years.