Set top box manufacturer Altech UEC has partnered with Ellies Holdings to provide a full service offering for digital migration in southern Africa. Digital television is set for commercial launch in April next year.

“South Africa is leading the African digital migration," says Altech CEO Craig Venter. "Many countries are looking to South Africa to provide support in implementing Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) in their own country’s migration plans in the future.
"Altech UEC and Ellies will lead the South African government’s initiative to bridge the digital divide. The digital migration programme will benefit the broader ICT sector, and create many jobs in the industry. Altech UEC and Ellies are leaders in their respective industries, we have a tried and tested relationship and our business models allow us to present a full service offering, nationally, across the entire spectrum of the value chain.
"In addition, Altech UEC will appoint in excess of 1 000 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs)," Venter adds.
“Digital migration has taken place in the USA, Australia and Europe. It is a technology imperative that indicates that government is showing commitment to grow the information & communications technologies (ICT) sector and create much needed jobs.
"Not only do we get information, communication and technology to the very remote areas of South Africa, but we also get better viewing quality and the initiative frees up much needed frequency spectrum within the ICT sector,” he says.
Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM), encapsulated in the slogan "Go Digital", is the process of converting television broadcasting signals from analogue to digital technology.
Currently, analogue broadcasting is the means of delivery of terrestrial television in South Africa. "Go Digital" will see an estimated 9-million television households in South Africa needing Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) set top boxes (STBs), to convert the digital terrestrial signal so that it can be displayed on analogue television sets.
“Altech UEC and Ellies have formed a partnership that will entitle Ellies to be the sole distributor of the DTT STBs manufactured by Altech UEC," says Ellies CEO Wayne Samson. "The partnership involves the distribution and installation of the STB’s, including after sales services.  The alliance will simplify and greatly improve South Africa’s ‘Go Digital’ programme."
The distribution agreement is an extension of the companies’ 13 year relationship which began with the development of a deployment model for pay television solutions in South Africa and throughout Africa.
Altech UEC and Ellies will expand their partnership to include training centres to aid unemployed and disadvantaged individuals, through the Altech UEC Ellies Installer and Repair Academy. These installer schools, set up around the country at Ellies branches, aim to train unemployed people in the installation of aerial and satellite systems, first level STB fault diagnostics and repair skills, and business and life skills.
“Our aim is to create an installer base in rural areas to improve the ‘Go Digital’ process while also helping the installers to build self-owned, sustainable businesses that will themselves create employment,” says Samson.
Venter adds: “On empowerment, skills development and SMME’s, it is critical that this government’s initiative (BDM) stimulates the entire ICT sector, and Altech wishes to play its role in this.  Altech will do this by empowering, and developing skills throughout the value chain."