FREEVISION gap-filler DTH service to launch in South Africa

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 
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SENTECH announces launch of FREEVISION

SENTECH, the state-owned broadcasting signal distributor announced today that the Company would rebrand Vivid as ‘FREEVISION’ – as a Universal Access Direct-To-Home Satellite (DTH-S) platform service from 30 September 2013.

SENTECH says, “the launch of ‘FREEVISION’ seeks to ensure alignment of the Company’s broader electronic communications network services with its Public Service Mandate obligations and the changing media landscape brought about by digital convergence”.

Broadcasting digital migration policy

The Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) Policy of 2012 provides that Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) provider for Public and Community broadcasting services operating on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Multiplex 1 should ensure 100% reception of these broadcasting services throughout the country.

The BDM Policy notes that this imperative is to ensure that citizens in the Northern Cape Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and all areas in the Republic that are deemed difficult or uneconomical to reach through the DTT transmitter network are provided for through a Universal Access DTH-S ‘gap-filler’ platform service.

SENTECH believes that the launch of the ‘FREEVISION’ Universal Access DTH-S platform service will enable Public and Community broadcasting operators to distribute their services to all citizens.

Signal distribution network architecture

The SENTECH broadcasting signal distribution network architecture is a unique design that will enable all licensed DTT Broadcasters that uses SENTECH’s broadcasting signal distribution network to distribute their broadcasting services on the DTH-S Universal Access ‘gap-filler’ platform service without incurring additional signal distribution operational costs.

The ‘FREEVISION’ platform service is located at 68.5°E on Intelsat 20 – the largest video neighbourhood in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 60 million viewers.

This means that the majority of viewers in South Africa would not need to install a second satellite dish or change the position of their existing satellite dish when joining Freevision.

Dr Setumo Mohapi, Chief Executive Officer of SENTECH says: “We believe that this unique broadcasting signal distribution network design ensures that Public Funding provided to the SENTECH is efficiently leveraged to reduce the cost of broadcasting signal distribution services, and most importantly, to make multichannel broadcasting signal distribution tariffs affordable, thus encouraging the entry of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) single-channel broadcasters into the mainstream Television broadcasting sector.”

The ‘FREEVISION’ Set-Top Box retail price and channel line-up will be made public in due course.

Conclusion

Dr Setumo Mohapi, Chief Executive Officer of SENTECH says: “We believe that the launch of ‘FREEVISION’ is a necessary strategic development in South Africa’s roadmap to enhance the growth of the broadcasting sector as well as to explore new business-to-business platform services models for commercial broadcasters.

SENTECH further believes that the ‘FREEVISION’ platform will further enrich the digital multi-channel content distribution landscape – both of which are critical for nurturing the country’s young and democratic broadcasting and content distribution industry.”