Cape Town - Government will announce a date for the switch to digital broadcasting within three months, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said.

“This designation will allow the industry, manufacturers and tv-owning population to prepare accordingly, in order to purchase and install set-top boxes,” he said in his budget vote speech to Parliament.

Cwele said government had ring-fenced R2.9-billion for broadband digital migration, and the department would gazette its final policy on it at the end of July.

The digital switch-over will increase the number of broadcast channels, stimulate local content production and make it easier to produce content in different local languages, Cwele told a media briefing after the vote.

He said he would push ahead with plans to move South Africa away from reliance on mobile broadband, and seek to roll out infrastructure to meet an ambitious target of total broadband cable penetration by 2020.

“In the current financial year, R20-million has been allocated for the finalisation of the first phase of the broadband plan,” said Cwele.

“By end of this month, the business case will be finalised that seeks funding to connect 580 clinics, 4444 schools, 182 police stations, and 572 other government offices in the medium-term.” - Sapa