Johannesburg - State-owned broadband network group Sentech
on Wednesday said it would prioritise the roll-out of infrastructure and
services for SA's digital terrestrial broadcasting platforms.
Sentech CEO Setumo Mohapi said its focus is the digital
SA aims to convert from terrestrial television signal
distribution to digital.
Sentech said it hoped to upgrade the digital DVB-T signal
and accelerate the roll-out of DVB-T2 infrastructure and attain 92% population
coverage by the end of December 2013.
The government has allocated R279m for the roll-out of
digital broadcasting infrastructure and dual-illumination operations during
An additional R343m would be allocated for the remainder of
the medium-term expenditure framework period.
Sentech earmarked capital expenditure of R993m over the next
three years for digital terrestrial television, with operating expenditure at
R329m over the same period.
For its other flagship project, the national wireless
broadband network, Sentech said it aimed to provide broadband connectivity to
underserved rural areas.
It would begin roll-out by the third quarter of 2011.
The government has allocated R450m for the roll-out of a
rural broadband network for the next financial year.
Earlier this year, Sentech announced plans to spend R814m
over the next three years to build the network. Mohapi set a deadline of five
years to get the network built, but on Wednesday he said that Sentech hoped to
have the project completed by the end of March 2014.
It expected to spend R241m in 2011/12, R199m in 2012/13 and
R374m in 2013/14.
Sentech chairperson Logan Naidoo said the group would play
no part in the retail space.
"Sentech is not structured operationally to be in the
retail space," he said. The group put its uncapped broadband business
MyWireless to bed in 2009.
On Tuesday, mobile industry lobby group the GSM Association
said that Sentech was too thinly spread in terms of funding and resources to
perform its mandated task.
"Sentech has a lot on its plate at the moment,"
cautioned Ross Bateson, GSMA's government affairs special adviser.
"They have plans to be a last-mile connector of mobile
broadband but they don't have the capacity or the means to invest in that kind
of network," Bateson said.
"They need to concentrate on digital terrestrial television. Progress towards (that) is still slow," he said.