The count down to the switch off of analogue transmitters in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape has begun. The transmitters are to be switched on to digital in a ceremony on Friday.
This will be done to ensure that the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope is able to function optimally, with as little interference as possible.
The SKA will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope once it has been completed. However, analogue television transmissions interfere with signals received by the telescope project. As a result, the community of Carnarvon where the SKA is based will officially be one of the first to be moving from analogue to digital terrestrial television.
The SKA matters to the average South African…
To enable poor households with television sets to switch over, government is providing them with free set top boxes. This will be the first step for South Africa towards digital migration.
Some residents, like Phillip Cupido, already have the set top boxes. “The picture quality is much better because we used an antenna before and now we are using the dish,” says Carnavon resident Phillip Cupido.
Director of the SKA Dr Rob Adam says the project will empower not only scientists but the entire country.
“The SKA matters to the average South African because it hugely enhances our science system and our science system bootstraps the whole education system and the understanding by South Africans of science, the universe and the world and the engineering and scientific capabilities that the SKA leverages are used in other parts of the economy, other parts of the education system.”
Although the switch-over will be done this Friday, South Africa will continue to use both analogue and digital signals until the complete migration can be done.