MTN, Vodacom, Telkom move on mobile TV

South Africa’s mobile operators are targeting multi-media options, including mobile TV, as they look to diversify their portfolios.

Bloomberg reported last week that Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko has held talks with a host of large media companies including Comcast, Bertelsmann, Naspers, and Netflix.

According to Bloomberg, the talks to carry content on Telkom’s fixed-line networks are part of an effort by Maseko to boost revenue.

And Telkom is not the only one. In November, Bloomberg reported that Vodacom is reportedly also in discussions with Naspers over access to its television content.

“Mobile TV offers an exciting opportunity for cellphone companies across the globe. We are talking to the various players to explore possibilities but nothing is concrete at this stage,” Vodacom told BusinessTech.

The talks, Bloomberg said, were at an early stage, which may lead to Vodacom accessing content from Multichoice, the broadcast division of Naspers, to offer to users of its phone and Internet network.

Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub said in September, that there is an opportunity for the operator to unlock value by partnering with a pay-TV provider like DStv.

He said that more than two thirds of Vodacom’s network is already on fibre or high transmission. “Our ability to switch on or utilise 4G or transmission, and to really take broadband into every home is very much achievable in the short term,” Joosub said.

“Having a portal with different TV stations, basically having their product available and… providing the connectivity and the billing mechanism and so on to customers, I think could be very beneficial.

“I’d say there is an opportunity to unlock the value both from a presenting of content perspective, and that could mean partnering with existing players that are out there, and maybe introducing some new ones into the market. At the same time making sure there is a clear network advantage,” the chief executive said.

Vodacom has already tried a venture into the television sector. In 2007, the operator launched DStv Select. In 2011, however, MultiChoice took over the running of the DStv Select bouquets, previously administered by Vodacom.

Not to be outdone, MTN has pointed to multi-media developments over the coming months.

“MTN continues to invest in the latest technologies and develop new services to bring its customers a bold, new digital world,” said Mike Fairon, GM: Products and Solutions at MTN SA.

“Our plans in the multi-media space are progressing well and we plan to provide some innovative services in the coming months. Further announcement in this regard will be made at an appropriate time.”

When asked on possible links or deals with operators, Naspers said that it was company policy not to comment on media speculation.

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MTN, Vodacom, Telkom move on mobile TV