Pay-TV incumbent MultiChoice says its new streaming mobile TV offering is not a “stopgap” while it waits for a mobile TV licence.
TechCentral broke the news this week that the company will go live with a streaming mobile TV offering at R59/month from 1 August.
DStv Mobile has opted to stream its service instead of running a full broadcast offering because it is still waiting to hear whether it will be awarded a mobile broadcasting licence by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa). Streaming is not considered to be a broadcast service and, as such, it is not regulated.
MultiChoice’s move led to speculation that the company was using the streaming service as a temporary measure while it waited for the regulator to make its decision on mobile broadcasting licences.
MultiChoice and new but deeply troubled entrant Super 5 Media have applied to Icasa for the remaining mobile broadcasting licence.
However, DStv Mobile SA GM Mark Rayner says the service is here to stay. “It is not a stopgap measure by any stretch of the imagination. We will not ditch it if we are awarded a licence,” he says.
Rayner says if the regulator grants it a full mobile TV licence, the two services will complement each other. “We could perhaps think about offering different channels on the two services,” he says.
According to Rayner, streaming mobile TV service has been in the pipeline for some time. He says MultiChoice took part in a pilot service Vodacom started a few years ago, which the mobile operator subsequently abandoned.
Rayner says the company is paying Vodacom for the use of the network, a cost that covers the bandwidth customers use to stream the video.
“We didn’t want people to get a shocking bandwidth bill at the end of the month,” he says.
However, DStv Mobile has implemented a “fair-use policy” on its service. The policy says customers that pay the weekly R19 fee will be allowed to watch about 45 minutes of streaming DStv any time during the week.
Customers paying the monthly R59 fee will be allowed to watch three hours of TV any time during the month. However, Rayner says these times will increase as the company gets more customers on board.
“We spent a lot of time researching the fair-use policy and price models, and these were the numbers we came up with. It will change as technology becomes better and we sign up more customers to the product,” he says.
Though the service is only available to Vodacom subscribers through Vodafone Live, DStv Mobile wants to expand the streaming service across all the cellphone networks, and later into other parts of Africa.
“We are at various stages of discussions with the other operators,” Rayner says.
DStv Mobile will not be the only provider on the Vodafone Live platform. Speculation suggests Vodacom will announce a competing mobile TV service on Monday. — Candice Jones, TechCentral