MultiChoice South Africa today announced the launch of its Mobile TV broadcasting service, DStv Mobile.
This is the first time that the company’s DVB-H service is seeing the light of day on a commercial level. Despite having tested the service for a number of years in major metropolitan areas, Multichoice could not monetise it due to licensing issues on the part of national regulator ICASA. These were recently resolved, allowing both DSTv and eTV (both holders of mobile broadcasting licenses) to enter the DVB-H market.
DVB-H is a stand alone broadcasting technology which operates in a similar fashion to television broadcasting. This means that it is a one way signal which is captured via a receiver (much in the way that a television aerial captures television signals), and has no return data path.
“MultiChoice is a company built on innovation and it is this approach that has resulted in numerous firsts in our industry. We were one of the first in the world to launch digital satellite television. We also pioneered Dual View (now Xtraview) globally and the Personal Video Recorder (PVR), High Definition (HD), and DStv on Demand have all been African firsts”, commented Imtiaz Patel, chief executive officer, MultiChoice South Africa Group.
DStv Mobile can be accessed on a DVB-H enabled cellphone or via MultiChoice’s newly introduced Mobile TV decoder, the Drifta.
The DVB-H enabled cellphones currently available in the South African market are the Nokia 5330, Nokia N96 and ZTE F900. DStv Mobile is in discussion with various cellphone manufactures and is confident that more DVB-H enabled phones will be available in the South African market soon.
The new Mobile TV decoder, the Drifta, is a separate device that receives the DStv Mobile broadcast signal and relays it over Wi-Fi to a range of WiFi-capable laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones. At launch the Drifta supports Windows and iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Blackberry OS, Symbian^3 and Android applications are in development and more devices that work with the Drifta will be enabled soon.
“The Digital Video Broadcast Handheld (DVB-H) technology rolled out by MultiChoice for broadcast Mobile TV in South Africa offers excellent digital sound and picture quality whilst making efficient use of the allocated spectrum. The DVB-H Mobile TV technology is not to be confused with the recently launched DStv Mobile streaming service that utilises the mobile network operators’ 3G networks. The independent Mobile TV broadcast network allows users unlimited access to the channels available on the service without the payment of data charges,” commented Mark Rayner, general manager of DStv Mobile South Africa.
Network coverage is available in the major centres of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Polokwane, Mbombela, Rustenburg, Bloemfontein and Durban.
The frequency spectrum allocated to mobile broadcasting currently enables 15 channels via DVB-H technology. This spectrum was licensed to both MultiChoice (60%) and e.tv (40%) who will be offering pay and free-to-air services respectively.
The channel line-up on the DStv Mobile bouquet will initially include a selection of SuperSport channels (1, 2, 3 and Blitz), Africa Magic, Cartoon Network, Trace and a DStv Events Channel. The e.Mobile bouquet contains The eNews Channel and Channel O. More channels on both services will be announced soon.
The DStv Mobile bouquet will cost subscribers R36 per month from 1 April 2011.
The Drifta will be available for R599 from major retailers from 1 December and the service can be activated via the MultiChoice call centre or the DStv Mobile website. DVB-H cellphones will be made available through mobile network operators, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C and the subscription is activated directly off the handset.