Kenya’s leading telecommunication firm Safaricom, could soon be giving the country’s media houses a run for their money after the mobile service provider applied for a digital broadcasting license along with approval for a set-top box.
According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the firm has applied for the above mentioned permits but the regulator is yet to give an approval.
“Safaricom is the latest firm that has sought type approval for a set-top box. They have also applied for a digital broadcasting license but we have yet to approve that,” said Francis Wangusi, CA Director General.
As reported in the Business Daily, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has said the company is interested in using the set-top boxes to deliver internet to households but has also hinted that in the event the company is issued with the license, it will venture into broadcasting.
Safaricom is likely to offer the service in a triple play model as one used by Wananchi Group’s Zuku. Under the triple play model, telephony, cable television and high-speed internet services are offered under a single bundle/ subscription. The TV portion of the service includes a wide choice of cable channels and music channels and may include other TV-related services such as messaging, interactive viewing and gaming.
Kenya embarked on the transition from analogue to digital migration broadcasting three years ago but it’s proved to be an uphill task that has been characterized by numerous court battles between the regulator and top media houses and also frequent extensions of the stipulated deadlines.
The process however heightened early this year on 14th February, when the government switched off the analogue transmitters of the country’s top three TV stations after the Supreme Court ruled against their favour, in a case they had filed seeking to have the CA compelled to extend the 31ST December 2014 deadline. (LINK)
BACK ON AIR
The TV stations namely; KTN, CITIZEN TV, QTV and NTV, which are owned by the Standard Group, the Royal Media Services and the Nation Media Group respectively, resumed transmission yesterday after being off air for 19 days.
The switch-on followed a deal reached on Tuesday between the government and the four stations, allowing them to broadcast in Nairobi on the digital platform under their Africa Digital Network (ADN) consortium license.
Their broadcasts are available to those with universal free-to–air set top boxes and remain free to air.
“We would also like to inform our viewers that our channels NTV, KTN Citizen and QTV are and must remain Free-To-Air (FTA) available to you free of charge and without monthly subscription on all universal decoders,” read a section of a statement by the media houses.
ADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL BROADCASTING
As outlined in the Guidelines for the Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting by The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting is not only creating opportunities for the provision of ICT applications and multimedia services but is also contributing to the efficient use of spectrum through the digital dividend and the release of spectrum for other uses such as wireless broadband communications.”
Digital broadcasting also gives room for new players in the media market and Safaricom looks keen on tapping into the mobile television broadcasting (MTV) brought about by digital transmission.
Such technology will allow consumers for instance to buy a preferred program such as a documentary or a movie and watch it through devices like tablets, smartphones or televisions.
Safaricom’s entry into the broadcast market will definitely be a game changer, going with the firm’s remarkable innovative products.
Generally, Kenyans stand to gain the most with the entry of new players in the market, as the competition created will demand for quality and even more content. Kenyan actors and filmmakers could soon be ripping the benefits as well.