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Safaricom launches Kenya’s first mobile TV service

Kenyans set to receive mobile TV in Nairobi for US$16 monthly subscription.

Kenyan telecom operator Safaricom has joined forces with DSTV, the Sub-Saharan African subsidiary of South African satellite TV operator Multichoice, to launch Kenya's first commercial mobile TV service.

The service will initially be available on selected handsets in Nairobi, and will serve 10 local and international channels including Super Sport Update, Super Sport 3, CNN, BBC World, and KBC. Customers will also be able to access news and entertainment websites via their phones.

The service will be available on mobile TV enabled handsets, configured to receive DVB-H broadcasts in Kenya. The handsets will be available from DSTV dealers and Safaricom retail outlets in Nairobi for a retail price of KShs. 25,000 (US$403.).

Subscription to the service will be free for the first month, until June 30, after which customers will pay a monthly subscription fee of Kshs1,000 (US$16.1). Users will be able to pay for the service using Safaricom airtime vouchers.

"This is a significant day for both Safaricom and Multichoice," said Michael Joseph, CEO, Safaricom. "This launch signifies a revolutionary step especially in this market, in the development of our distinct industries. We have been working on this partnership for the past one year and today's launch finally delivers what we have been promising our subscribers all along - unequivocal audio-visual content streamed to your mobile phone handsets in a simple manner."

But with a per capita GDP of just US$1,600, uptake of the service from Kenya's population of almost 38 million people is expected to be slow.

DVB-H is regarded as the world's leading mobile broadcast technology standard and allows for the digital terrestrial broadcast of live television channels to a mobile phone. It differs from 3G telephony in that DVB-H is a one-to-many transmission on a linear basis and uses broadcasting infrastructure, while 3G uses telephony infrastructure that delivers point-to-point services.