South Africa

Last update: 27.04.2021 - older versions

South African government directive to licence for digital radio

On 10 July 2020 South Africa's Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, issued the policy directive to the regulator ICASA allowing for the licensing of Digital Sound Broadcasting.  

In November 2020, South Africa regulator ICASA launched a consultation on draft regulation for licensing digital radio. The objectives of the draft regulation are to set out the framework for the introduction of DSB (digital sound broadcasting) services and prescribe the procedure for an Applicant seeking to provide DSB services.

The proposal is to consider Applicants without existing sound broadcasting licences two years after the effective date of the Regulations.

New framework for the licencing of digital radio – April 2021

In April 2021, the South African regulator published the new framework for the licencing of digital radio. According to the new regulation, the introduction of digital radio services (locally referred to as “digital sound broadcasting services regulations”) for new applicants will be in a phased approach: phase one will be in the primary markets and phase two will be in the secondary markets. Existing sound broadcasting service licensees may simulcast their existing sound broadcasting programme(s) on analogue and digital platforms. The regulator, which will launch a call for tenders to determine spectrum allocation, will also consider applicants without existing broadcasting licences.

 

Johannesburg / Pretoria trial renewed

The National Association of Broadcasters (the NAB) and Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association (SADIBA) are currently engaged in a DAB+ trial in the Gauteng province (Johannesburg and Pretoria) and a new greenfield DAB+ trial for Cape Town. 

In January 2019, it was announced that the Johannesburg / Pretoria South African DAB+ trial had been granted a new license. The license, renewed as of 30 January 2019, is valid for a period of eight months, with the possibility of a six-month extension.

Cape Town trial

In November 2019, a DAB+ Trial Licence for Cape Town South Africa was been granted to Sentech SOC by the regulator ICASA. This site has existing Band III VHF infrastructure and a frequency has become available with the closing of one of the analogue TV services. 

 

 

Last update: 18.08.2015 - older versions

The DAB+ trial covers the Province of Gauteng. Please see terrestrial coverage map here.

Last update: 05.03.2021 - older versions

In this country there is

on air.

Please note:

(a)    These web pages are updated regularly to reflect current services on air, however they may not be exactly up to date.

(b)    The logos shown on these pages are for illustrative purposes only – manufacturers and broadcasters are directed here for information on implementing station logos.

The DAB+ trial is temporarily off air while the process for applying for a new trial license is ongoing.

The DAB+ trial will consist of 1 mux broadcasting 20 X stereo channels using various bit rates in the province of Gauteng. All of the participants use slide show and other PAD services like SLS. Five slideshows are dynamically generated. Participation is not limited to Gauteng based broadcasters thereby allowing broadcasters from other provinces to trial. One third of the mux is reserved exclusively for community broadcasters. In total there will be 20 DAB+ services on air, 19 DAB+ programmes will run simulcast on AM/FM and one will be exclusive to digital.

Simulcast on AM / FM Exclusive on digital Total of services
DAB+ programmes 19 1 20

Last update: 28.06.2018 - older versions

The Joint SADIBA/NAB Digital Radio DAB+ trial Working Group is currently meeting on a regular basis with members from the automobile manufactures to encourage their participation by providing a number of vehicles fitted with OEM DAB+ receivers.  BMW South Africa has participated extensively in the Trial.

Many new imported automobiles imported into South Africa have DAB+ receivers fitted (Lexus, Toyota, Ford). Ford SA activates all DAB+ receivers in automobiles sold in South Africa.

Last update: 28.06.2018 - older versions

As South Africa is currently in trial status, DAB+ receivers are not officially currently available in the market place although some models have found their way into retail stores

Last update: 08.11.2019 - older versions

Johannesburg / Pretoria trial renewed

On the 29th  January 2019 the South African Broadcast Regulator ICASA granted a new eight month DAB+ trial licence which will provide coverage in Johannesburg/Pretoria Gauteng Province.  20 radio services drawn from the PBS, Commercial and Community Radio sectors will participate in the trial. On air date is planned mid-March 2019.

Phase 1 of the initial trial license period focused on network verification processes and this has now been completed. The 2nd phase which focused on audio and data testing has been completed. The new license phase focuses on closed listener group tests and further audio processing and data testing. The public broadcaster the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) applied for this new trial license on behalf of all the other radio broadcasters. South Africa is the first country in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to carry out DAB+ trials.

The trial consists of two high power transmitting stations (10kw transmitter power) 100kw ERP situated in Johannesburg and Pretoria in the province of Gauteng. The trial operates as a SFN in VHF band III on Channel 13F on a frequency of 239.200MHz. Coverage verification at transmitter powers of 2kw, 5kw, and 10kw has been concluded. Extensive testing of vertical polarisation versus horizontal is currently underway.  The total area covered by the trial is 21185 km2 and the total gross population covered is 10 705 387 (21.5% of total SA population).

Cape Town trial

In November 2019, a DAB+ Trial Licence for Cape Town South Africa was been granted to Sentech SOC by the regulator ICASA. This site has existing Band III VHF infrastructure and a frequency has become available with the closing of one of the analogue TV services. 

 

 

Last update: 18.11.2020 - older versions

Regulation

On 10 July 2020 South Africa's Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, issued the policy directive to the regulator ICASA allowing for the licensing of Digital Sound Broadcasting.  

In November 2020, South Africa regulator ICASA launched a consultation on draft regulation for licensing digital radio. The objectives of the draft regulation are to set out the framework for the introduction of DSB (digital sound broadcasting) services and prescribe the procedure for an Applicant seeking to provide DSB services.

The proposal is to consider Applicants without existing sound broadcasting licences two years after the effective date of the Regulations.

The closing date for comments on the draft is 29 December 2020. 

Process

The regulator ICASA published in April 2019 the findings of its inquiry into the deployment of digital radio in South Africa, stating that spectrum scarcity and high transmission costs necessitate the consideration of digital radio. ICASA's draft regulation on implementation is anticipated during the current financial year (2019/20), following the government policy directive issued on 10 July 2020 to allow for the licensing of Digital Sound Broadcasting.

In 2018, the Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) Council Committee was formed, the purpose of which is to make progress towards expanding regulatory scope for digital sound broadcasting technologies, and accommodating additional sound broadcasters in conventional and other frequency bands.  As part of the enquiry the DSB committee conducted international study visits to Australia, Germany, Norway, USA and United Kingdom.

DAB+ was officially adopted as a South African standard by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) in 2005.

 

Last update: 13.04.2018 - older versions

Emergency Warning Systems form part of the DAB+ trial parameters.

South African regulator ICASA's radio digitisation strategy
23.11.2021 - South Africa South Africa
ICASA councillor Dimakatso Qocha said: "Digital sound broadcasting is the future of radio, with immense benefits to listeners, as digital radio promises universal service and access." ICASA published Digital Sound Broadcasting Regulation in March 2021. With a large number of radio services on air, South Africa has experienced radio frequency spectrum scarcity in FM, particularly in the metropolitan areas. South Africa has not yet made a call on whether FM will be switched off completely.

(ITweb) Read more


Better late than never: The DAB+ opportunity in South Africa
30.07.2021 - South Africa South Africa
One thing remains clear; although internet connectivity is improving around the country, there simply isn’t enough access or bandwidth for everyone to move from FM onto streaming. We need something else and DAB+ is a viable candidate that shows great promise.

(The Media Online) Read more


South African regulator publishes new regulatory framework for licencing of digital radio
23.04.2021 - South Africa South Africa
According to the new regulation published by ICASA, the introduction of digital radio services for new applicants will be in a phased approach, starting with the primary markets and followed by secondary markets. Existing sound broadcasting service licensees may simulcast their existing sound broadcasting programme(s) on analogue and digital platforms, and applicants without existing broadcasting licences will also be considered as part of the call for tenders.

(ICASA) Read more


New draft digital radio regulation published in SA
13.11.2020 - South Africa South Africa
South Africa regulator ICASA has published draft digital radio regulation, outlining its intention to introduce licences for DAB+ digital radio. The draft regulation is open for consultation until 29 December 2020.

(ICASA) Read more


South Africa - preparation for licensing digital radio now underway
23.07.2020 - South Africa South Africa
The Minister for Communications this week published a policy directive asking the media regulator ICASA to prioritise licensing for the commercial rollout of terrestrial digital radio. This represents a huge opportunity not just for South Africa’s broadcasters and their listeners, but also for auto manufacturers, DAB+ domestic receiver and chip manufacturers.

(WorldDAB) Read more


South Africa - getting receivers on the market a priority
15.07.2020 - South Africa South Africa
The Government wants regulator ICASA to prioritise the establishment of digital broadcast networks and services. They must be introduced alongside existing analogue radio services (FM and AM) and must achieve various goals, including universal service and access for all; the introduction of new entrants into the industry; promoting investment; promoting competition; fostering innovation; and reducing costs.

(Techcentral.co.za ) Read more


South African government publishes policy directive to licence for digital radio
13.07.2020 - South Africa South Africa
Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has issued the policy directive to allow for the licensing of Digital Sound Broadcasting. Following a study tour last year the regulator ICASA said in their press release dated 8 April 2019 that "there is clear evidence that DSB technologies are beneficial for South Africa and have proven to be successful in countries visited, such as Norway and Australia". While desired, local receiver manufacture is not mandatory, and many cars on the road already have DAB+ as standard.

(www.gov.za) Read more


South Africa’s Magic Radio explains DAB to its listeners
05.03.2020 - South Africa South Africa
South Africa is currently trialling DAB+, with Magic 828 featuring amongst the channels available to listeners within range of the test signal. The Cape Town trials are to the delight of many owners of cars fitted with DAB+. This article outlines how DAB+ functions and the benefits it offers.

(Magic 828) Read more


Digital radio trials ongoing in South Africa
30.09.2019 - South Africa South Africa
Phase three of the South African DAB+ trial went on air on 15 March this year and will run for eight months with an extension of six months. The current MUX can accommodate 24 radio stations, of which a third of the capacity has been allocated to community-based radios stations.

(ee.co.za) Read more


ICASA plans to introduce digital radio broadcasting but keep analogue stations for time being
09.04.2019 - South Africa South Africa
ICASA said that even though analogue medium wave (AM) frequencies are ample, the sound quality is generally poor, with higher transmission costs. ICASA said that even though FM still offers good quality sound, spectrum scarcity and high transmission costs necessitate consideration for digital sound broadcasting services

(Telecompaper) Read more


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Key Information

Status: trial and/or regulation
Population: 53.0 million
Population coverage: Sparkline Graph 21.5%
Services: 20 DAB+
Last update: 28.06.2018

Useful Links

Telecommunications & Postal Services Republic of South Africa Policy Review Reports 2015
SADIBA - Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association
Sentech - State-owned network operator in South Africa
Telecommunications & Postal Services Republic of South Africe
Independent Communications Authority of South Africa - Regulator
The National Association of Broadcasters of South Africa