South Africa: Increase in Applications for Free Set-Top Boxes

The South African Post Office (SAPO) has seen a dramatic increase in members of the public who want to apply for a subsidised television decoder, or set-top boxes.

This follows the announcement earlier in the year that South Africa will switch to digital television transmissions in early 2022.

The country is preparing to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting. In order to receive digital signals on an ordinary analogue TV set, viewers will need set-top boxes (STBs) or digital-enabled television sets to decode signals.

The decoder brings a much better picture quality and a bigger choice of television channels.

"The government plans to switch the whole of South Africa to digital television broadcasts by April next year. You will then need a set-top box to continue watching TV with your current television set," SAPO said in a statement on Thursday.

The post office has advised people who want to apply for a subsidised set-top box to bring the following documents:

Proof of the family's income. Families with an income of R3200 per month or less qualify. Recipients of a South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) social grant also qualify.

Proof of identity. Only South African citizens qualify.

Proof of address. The address is captured on the system so that installers later know where to install the subsidised set-top box.

A police affidavit to state that you have a working TV set. It will have no purpose to install a television decoder at a house with no television set.

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