Safaricom, Nokia And DMTV Launch DVB-H in Kenya

Monday, June 15th, 2009
Safaricom logo

Safaricom subscribers can now watch DStv’s menu of TV programs from certain Nokia mobile phones.

And as part of an introductory offer, they do not have to pay any extra cost for the service till April, 2010, as long as they have the right devices.

This follows the signing of a partnership between Safaricom, Nokia (Helsinki:NOK1V; NYSE:NOK) and DMTV. This will enable the subscribers to access the service, dubbed DStv Mobile, through Digital Video Broadcast Handheld (DVB-H)-enabled Nokia phones.

To receive the service, which will give them access to TV channels offered by pay TV firm DMTV, Safaricom subscribers will be required to have a Nokia handset specially configured to receive DVB-H broadcasts and programmed for that purpose in Kenya.

The service is currently available on Nokia N96 and N77, which both have an integrated DVB-H receiver. In addition, users can access DStv Mobile service on Nokia N79, N85, N86, N97, E75 and Nokia 5800 Xpress Music devices by purchasing a Nokia Mobile TV Receiver SU-33W.

Speaking during the launch, Safaricom Chief Commercial Officer Peter Arina said activating the handsets would be easy because unlike the past when subscribers had to get a special SIM card, this time they only needed to buy a DVB-H capable handset and insert their usual SIM card to activate the service.

“We are confident the service will gain wide acceptance because of Nokia’s dominance in the Kenyan market,” said Mr. Arina. “These handsets will be available at any of our Safaricom Retail Centers in Nairobi and from DStv and Nokia dealers,” he added.

Upon purchase of an enabled handset, one will enjoy the services without paying a fee until the end of April next year. Coverage is currently available in Nairobi and Mombasa and plans are already underway to extend this to other parts of Kenya.

Said Gerard Brandjes, General Manager for Nokia, East and Southern Africa: “This is an exciting time for mobile convergence in Africa. We are especially pleased that Nokia, working together with DMTV and Safaricom, are able to offer consumers 12 months free access to DStv Mobile when they purchase a compatible DVB-H handset. This showcases the enormous advancements in handset technology, now enabling TV on-the-go-for consumers.”

Speaking at the event, Digital Mobile TV (DMTV) General Manager Felix Kyengo said the partnership with Safaricom and Nokia was an indication of the companies’ responsiveness to customer needs and devotion to continually improve service delivery.

“We are very excited that the delivery of the DStv Mobile service to Kenyans will become even easier and more affordable. Kenya has now joined the first few countries that have a fully commercial DVB-H based mobile service,” he said.

The new service will allow Safaricom subscribers to watch live matches of the FIFA Confederations Cup being currently being held in South Africa, ongoing World Cup qualifiers, English Premier League and Spanish La Liga games LIVE on DStv Mobile when the leagues resume in August.

Mr. Kyengo said with DStv Mobile, Kenyans would also be able to watch proceedings in Parliament wherever they might not have access to a television set, ensuring that they miss nothing.

Mobile TV is an emerging technology that allows people to view live television content on their mobile phones or other mobile devices that they ordinarily would only get through traditional cable or pay TV subscription.

Research indicates that mobile phones will remain the central multi-purpose device for the foreseeable future, especially in Africa, outnumbering any other mobile devices like digital media players and pocket PCs. 84 per cent of mobile phone users in countries where Mobile TV has been launched have shown willingness to use the service provided it is commonly available and affordable.

DVB-H is regarded as the world’s leading mobile broadcast technology standard and allows for digital terrestrial broadcast of live television channels to a mobile phone. DVB-H is a one-to-many transmission on a linear basis, unlike 3G that delivers point-to-point services. 3G and DVB-H can, however, be complementary, especially in the provision of return path service for live television for instance, viewer voting for TV shows.