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Kwese Free Sports is here, in Zimbabwe (update)

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Update: In the first version of this article, we gave the impression that Kwese Free Sports will always be zero-rated. This is not the case. Econet is just zero-rating it for today’s NBA Africa Game from 1600hrs to 2000hrs. We’re sorry for the oversight.

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So yes, Kwese Free Sports is here. Via the mobile app, but not via satellite TV.

Zimbabweans can now stream sports games live as well as sports commentary on their mobile phones. We’re not clear how long this has been so but we’re told Kwese opened up the app to Zimbabweans some time this week.

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Econet announced on its Facebook page today that the app will be zero rated enabling Zimbabweans to watch without needing to buy data. Specifically, today, Econet subscribers will be able to watch the NBA Africa Game live for free.

You can download Kwese Free Sports here.

If you’re wondering if Kwese/Econet now have a video streaming license in Zimbabwe, the answer is no. Some sources at Econet confirmed this when we asked them today.

But is there such a thing as a streaming license in Zimbabwe? And if there is, do YouTube, Facebook, NetFlix, Showmax, iROKO TV and all the streaming service we can access here, all have licenses. Certainly not.

So in terms of tv streaming does Kwese need and has it been waiting for a license all along. It’s hard to say.

But we can also confirm that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe does require licenses for things that sound like streaming. BAZ has a license classes for “a datacasting service” and “a webcasting service”.

However, beyond reading words like ‘webcasting’ and ‘datacasting’, it’s hard to interpret what the licensing framework really is and how it works. It may be the case of, “if we can get to you and make you pay a license first, then we will.” YouTube and Netflix then are just companies the regulators here can’t ‘get to’.

Clearly therefore, regulation needs to catch up with the technology as well as the reality on the ground.

That said, it is interesting to note that the Kwese TV app (different from the Kwese Free Sports app) is still not available in Zimbabwe. When we checked the app yesterday, you still can’t sign up for an account from Zimbabwe.

Kwese TVEconet

Kwese TV is a Zimbabwean satellite and broadcasting network owned by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, under Econet Media. On 23 August 2017, Econet Media announced that Kwese TV was now available in Zimbabwe and that decoders were available at Econet Shops. However, that very same day... Read More About Kwese TV

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless International, is the first and largest mobile network services provider in Zimbabwe. The telecoms giant became popular with its products and services such as Buddie. It has established branches in different corners of the country and enjoys... Read More About Econet

14 thoughts on “Kwese Free Sports is here, in Zimbabwe (update)

  1. You may wanna get your facts straight. The app has only been zero rated for today from 16:00-20:00. Your article & especially your headline gives the impression that it will always be zero rated. Don’t make people lose their precious data cause they start using the app after today thinking its not using data, only to be shocked with a zero MB balance lol #responsiblejournalism

      1. This kwese app doesn’t show everything tried now to watch a friendly match and it said this content is not available in your country. They tell us the truth these eco guys

      2. Have you read the Broadcasting Act of Zimbabwe?

        Netflix & YouTube don’t need the BAZ licenses because they don’t not operate in Zimbabwe in the sense they don’t host any streaming equipment (servers) in Zimbabwe.

        In the case of Kwese they’d want to host they’re servers locally to create the best CDN (content delivery network) and that is when BAZ requires a license. Anyone broadcasting from outside the boarders of Zimbabwe is allowed to stream, you cannot however have any servers in Zimbabwe or create any apparatus or have any infrastructure that extends a network or broadcasts into Zimbabwe without a license. If Kwese are to stream from Jhb or anywhere out of Zim it’s expensive and certainly they wouldn’t want to take up the customers data costs. Locally hosting content is what they’re targeting to give the locals content at the prices they’re promising and also bundling the data for the customers.

        1. But in terms of the license what is local hosting exactly? And where does a local cache fit in that description? Is a local host the server that the content was uploaded to originally?
          My assumption is that a local cache achieves the same in speed and efficiencies as hosting locally, If not, then the difference would likely be small. I doubt therefore the Kwese thing was about local hosting. They could have easily hosted in JHB and then had a local cache in Harare, Bulawayo etc…
          YouTube (and I think Netflix as well now ) has a cache in Zimbabwe

          1. Please define local cache? local cache is in this case semantics my friend, technicaly the local cache would be a server regularly updated to host content in Zimbabwe & a local cache would be an apparatus extending the Broadcast into Zimbabwe which BAZ stipulates you require a license to do so.

            Netflix once was in a peering deal with ZOL to do the above but not anymore as Netflix or ZOL need a license to host netflix content locally to serve locals better. This is done through a Netflix partnership deal they call open connect where Netflix gives you servers to host locally in your network such that requests from your local IPs are served content from them.

            The idea is to host content in the Econet Network that way content from data center to the consumer is on the same network but “not” the public internet, they’d have created a form of intranet serving you content.

            Scenario:

            If you’re on the same wifi network with a colleague at your office and they give you their credentials to access their drive via network, confirm you can watch a movie directly on his hard drive but on your laptop using your VLC or whichever player? Even if Internet access is off but the wifi is on, you can watch e.g. a 1.2gb movie and so in essence you’ve streamed that 1.2gb but because you’re on the same network there’s no charge to the data you’ve streamed. This would be why Econet can zero rate content doing market development but now they can’t without a license.

            If my theory is wrong, then Kwese would just be as expensive as Netflix and YouTube in terms of data.

            1. Please define local cache? local cache is in this case semantics my friend, technicaly the local cache would be a server regularly updated to host content in Zimbabwe & a local cache would be an apparatus extending the Broadcast into Zimbabwe which BAZ stipulates you require a license to do so.

              The bigger point is that internet technology makes it difficult to regulate these content broadcasting.
              Tech does not advance according to existing definitions of things. Allow a YouTube cache without license while not allowing Kwese sounds illogical especially because in terms of accessing customers it’s all the same. To a viewer of video on the internet, whether it’s being served directly from America, from a cache in Harare or from “original” server in Harare, it really makes no difference as long as one has a decent connection.

              1. My learned colleague please note Kwese had to apply & acquire broadcasting licenses to operate in every African Country they list that they operate in not just Zimbabwe. Ask them whether they do not posses licenses for Kenya, Nigeria and other countries they operate in? Also look at how they rolled out, there’s a reason why they’ve been going up & down and NOT moving from South to North or vice versa, they’re in “particular” territories because of such things as Satellite & Mobile Network footprints and also licensing.

                Associations like BAZ that recquire licensing to operate are in almost every country.

                America itself regulates INTERNET/ WEB based content distributors like YouTube, Netflix and other satellite, cable, radio, wire, television operators through a Statue that is imposed and monitored by an agency called the FCC Federal Communications Commision, Netflix as big as they are had problems with the FCC and couldn’t do certain things because the FCC wouldn’t allow them which is what BAZ & POTRAZ are meant to do in Zimabwe through Statutory Instruments too.

                Tech is very dangerous if not regulated, a terrorist would’ve have the “right and authorization” to also broadcast as they please if there were no regulations, we would be building boosters, deploying satellites and towers as we please if we we are not regulated, we would be showing harmful content & pricing anyway we want even pirated content if we were not regulated.

                There’s commisions, boards and associations that try govern these things for multiple reasons. The fact that Kwese can afford to and has the necessary funds, content and equipment to broadcast from Harare doesn’t mean they should simply be allowed to do so! there’s a stipulated process that they need to go through to acquire permissions, also these things are in a Statutory Instrument that was created a decade before Kwese was created. If these instruments were not there anyone could be a Broadcaster or Network owner.

                YouTube has a cloud cache that serves you in Zimbabwe not a “physical” Cache Server in Zimbabwe, if they do please tell me where this is and who placed it there?

                Kwese was never banned from operating in Zimbabwe via the net or cloud what they aren’t allowed to do is place any equipment in Zimbabwe or extend outside broadcasts into Zimbabwe.
                Kwese however doesn’t want to deploy a internet based CDN they want to deploy their own network based CDN which means placing servers in Zimbabwe and integrating them with the ISPs you would access this content from. Please note also the Statute that bars them from doing so was developed before Kwese existed as such this was never targeted at Kwese.

  2. Did a couple of downloads of the Kwese app hoping to find a breakthrough. one thing that is nagging me is the fact that it doesn’t have provision for Zimbabwe. l can’t interpret the reasons. We Zimbabweans are desparate for something better to view that is affordable so please save us from trouble.

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