Safaricom launches the Box, now awaits CA approval for its broadcast licence

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Finally, Safaricom has launched its decoder, the Box, that will enable access to TV content and the internet.

Through the launch the company looks into pushing data more, however, the telecom giant still awaits an approval by Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) for a broadcasting licence that will enable the company develop and host more content.

The decoder is a DVB-2 device with a major focus on data and internet provision to households that own a TV set but will also have the capability to offer free-to-air (FTA) channels which should allow for a larger segment of the population wanting to get in on the latest product on offer.

The telco believes that in East Africa, the growth of the mobile sector and the decline of standard television needs provides a good opportunity for the introduction of the Box into the market for those seeking to watch their favourite shows, participate in gaming with friends and expand the overall market share of Safaricom in previously small sectors.

CEO Bob Collymore said The Box’ will serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot connecting up to 10 users and support data-heavy applications.

“It will give you access to HD TV Channels and allow you to watch content through online video services like YouTube,” Collymore said during the launch at Sarit Centre.

The decoder’s first payment option will see subscribers pay an initial cost of Kshs 4,999 followed by six monthly instalments of Kshs 999.

“This package includes access to free-to-air TV stations and an allocation of up to 6GB a month in data bundles in addition to free YouTube viewing,” Collymore said.

The second option of a one-off fee of Kshs 9,999 allows access to free-to-air channels and up to 6GB in data bundles for a month and free YouTube access. Subscribers who choose this option can also buy bundles of up to 50GB for Kshs 4,000.

Safaricom said customers will be able to top up their balances by buying monthly bundles using airtime or M-Pesa, on predefined USSD and WAP interfaces.

Collymore said the decoder will allow subscribers to leverage extensively on the 3G and 4G networks to access content.

“Technology has influenced our day-to-day interactions as well as how we consume content. This will make it easier for consumers to embrace the concept of edutainment and using internet to meet their needs,” he said.

The decoder which will be available in all major cities countrywide makes Safaricom the first telco to venture into the TV business.

The company intends to reach the estimated 2.4 million households out of 3.2 million that have access to digital TV but are not using any of the set boxes available on the market.

“We have applied to the CA for a broadcasting license that will enable us to develop and host more content,” the Safaricom boss said.

Collymore also added that the decoder distributes the superfast connectivity via Wi-Fi to any existing Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Safaricom applied for a digital broadcasting licence in March during the Digital Migration tussle that saw the major TV stations go off air for two weeks. Through the launch, the telco looks into technological convergence that comes with digital TV migration to deepen its presence in the wireless Internet market.

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