Tellumat: Digital migration delays hamper sector growth

Graham Meyer, financial director at Tellumat
Delays in migrating television broadcasts from analogue to digital signal transmission is cutting back on the growth of local companies investing in new infrastructure, according to technology firm Tellumat.

“We have spent money developing the intellectual property and investing in research and development in anticipation of business coming our way. But without knowing exactly what the final specifications and final time lines will be, it’s difficult to begin”, said Tellumat’s financial director, Graham Meyer.

It is estimated that South Africa will enjoy full digital terrestrial broadcasts around mid 2013, 18 months later than initially expected.

The repeatedly delays in digital migration has forced Tellumat and other players in the broadcast market to put on hold the production of set-top boxes that viewers will need to receive and convert the new signals, in order to watch TV on their existing TV sets.

It is reported that around 8 million devices are required, with government planning to subsidize at least half of them for low-income households. However, the government has yet to finalize key technical specifications for the process, delaying the roll-out, but pledged to support the locally designed and manufactured devices.

“If all the devices are manufactured locally it will lead to enormous job creation, with more jobs created for the supply chain, installation and support”, added Meyer.

Tellumat has decided to start producing set-top boxes for the commercial market, once the specifications are in place, expecting the market to surge across Africa.

“We see exciting potential on the continent and our production could start very quickly. But nothing can happen until the specifications are released”, he concluded.

Tellumat’s operations consist of three major trading divisions; Communications, Defence and Contract Manufacturing, and three partly owned companies; SIA Solutions, Encee Engineering and SIMpill. The company services wireless voice and data communications, defence communication systems and high precision electronic and mechanical manufacturing.