I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s not fully convinced that our country has this digital migration issue under control. Even though NetOne paid for this whole project, I’m proudly wearing the skeptics’ cap until I see something really convincing and I know there’s a huge number of Zimbabweans who feel the same way.
The fact that we are being reassured now and again that Digital Migration is handled and that we’ll meet the deadline makes it even harder to believe. But whether it happens on time or not, one fact is that this ITU forced adjustment has created a host of opportunities for people in the right industries and delivery lines. A good example is the distribution network of set-top boxes which most of us know as decoders.
In Kenya, a fellow African country that managed to pull off the digital migration before us, the most notable entrant into this segment has been the country’s leading mobile network operator, Safaricom.
Last week the operator launched theBigBox, a decoder that does more than just give you access to TV channels. This device uses 3G and 4G networks, provides WiFi accessed to up to 10 users, 30 Free To Air Channels, Free YouTube Streaming (an offer valid for 3 months only), USB and SD playback (it also has an HDMI port) and TV recording. All this comes at a once off price of Sh10,000 which translates to an estimated $105 (plus data costs of course).
At the risk of being speculative, I have to say that we don’t have to look far to imagine how local mobile network operators(MNOs) are going to try and take a bite at the opportunities of digital migration.
Sure, we’ve been waiting on Econet and its ipidi service, but there are clearer intentions being displayed by NetOne. The state-owned MNO inked a $200 million deal to finance its network’s progression into LTE. In the same breath, it went on to buy spectrum from ZBC through the application for a datacasting licence.
There are no surprises for guessing what NetOne, complete with a datacasting licence and 4G technology will bring to the broadcast arena. I wonder though if we’ll have offers like free YouTube streaming and 50GB of data for $40 a month? I’d be getting ahead of myself by believing that. Let me just wait and see how the digital migration works out first.