eMedia Investments has said that it is aware that it needs to vacate the analogue spectrum bands for South Africa to progress.
This comes after the broadcaster won a comprehensive victory in the constitutional court against communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni — halting her plans to switch off analogue television broadcasts in South Africa on 30 June 2022.
In a statement responding to the court’s ruling, Khalik Sherrif, CEO of eMedia Investments, acknowledged that the continued broadcasting of analogue television in South Africa is affecting technological advancement as it is preventing telecommunications operators from access to crucial frequencies.
During Icasa’s spectrum auction in March, Vodacom, Telkom, MTN, and Rain acquired access to frequencies in the “digital dividend” bands still occupied by broadcasters, including eMedia.
It’s the first time Telkom and Rain have won access to broadband spectrum below 1GHz.
Telkom acquired 20MHz at 800MHz, Rain secured 20MHz at 700MHz, Vodacom got 20MHz at 700MHz, and MTN secured 20MHz at 800MHz.
The telecom operators need access to this spectrum to improve the quality of broadband signals, particularly for in-building and rural coverage.
However, operators are not required to pay Icasa for access until the spectrum is available.
Sherrif highlighted that “eMedia Investments provided a well-researched proposal on how the country’s migration could be done and how the spectrum affecting the telecom could be vacated, subject to some approvals from the regulator, which received eMedia’s application for approvals months ago, and which will allow telcos to use the spectrum. Unfortunately, the proposal was not taken into account, and there was no alternative but to approach the court.”
“eMedia Investments approached the minister numerous times to discuss ways of transitioning; we both agreed that the switch-off must happen to enable digital migration but insisted that it must be done in a practical, logical, and fair manner to ensure that there are no negative consequences to any households or the free-to-air TV industry,” Sherrif added.