WILL South Africa’s entry into digital television – the migration from analog waves to a digital signal – bring internet services to the poor? There is no reason why not since the technology to provide IP bandwidth over television has existed for years. It only takes guts and determination from the national broadcaster and in particular ICASA the national regulator. IP services have been offered via satellite for years, but high entry costs have prevented the average consumer from making use of such services. Now with the move towards a digital television platform, more affordable onramp to the information superhighway could be in the offing.
In 2004 Kreotel launched an IP/digital terrestrial set-top box that with a built-in DVB-T tuner that combines access to digital terrestrial television, IPTV and enhanced services. Since current DSL provided by parastatel Telkom is expensive and low bandwidth offered by cellular operaters does not provide much of an alternative, such a system could revolutionise the way internet is provided to the masses. As far as I can gather, the only problem with IP via digital television is that most of the traffic is one-way, since it is difficult to provide the same level of interactivity found on a land-based DSL platform, but for those high downloads, digital television could be ideal. DSTV users on South Africa’s pay-television channel already have a measure of interactive services, and such services could be increased tenfold if the engineers get their calculations right.
So, let’s free up some much needed bandwidth by demanding internet services with our television licence. You heard this from the DRL Blog first, go forth and prosper.