After years of testing — and fighting for a licence — pay-TV operator MultiChoice has finally launched a digital terrestrial television broadcasting service for mobile phones.
The Naspers-owned company has launched DStv Mobile, the first commercial digital video broadcasting handheld service in SA. It’s launched the service in conjunction with e.tv, which shares a digital “mux” — a chunk of radio frequency spectrum — with MultiChoice.
DStv Mobile’s subscription option is sports-focused (and male-focused), offering four SuperSport channels — 1, 2, 3 and Blitz — and Trace (music), Africa Magic (local entertainment) and Cartoon Network (children). The service costs R36/month and is available for free until March 2011.
There will also be a free bouquet of channels offered by e.tv. This will offer eNews channel, Channel O and, later, the e.tv channel itself.
MultiChoice will also sell a “mini decoder”, called the Drifta, that will allow consumers to watch mobile TV on selected Wi-Fi enabled devices, including Apple’s iPad, the iPod touch, iPhone, other selected cellphones, and on laptop computers. Android, Symbian S60 and Mac OS X support should be available in 2011. The Drifta retails for R599.
The Drifta will only be sold by MultiChoice. But mobile subscribers — both prepaid and postpaid users — will be able to purchase the service from their cellphone service provider.
MultiChoice was first awarded a test licence for mobile broadcasting in 2005. The Independent Communications Authority of SA issued the first two commercial licences only this year.
The delays in licensing have frustrated MultiChoice, which has already launched DStv Mobile in a number of African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia and Kenya. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral