IPTV one step closer for South Africans

TV The US might have landed on the moon but South Africa took a huge leap yesterday when the industry regulator, ICASA, announced that four new pay-TV broadcaster licenses had been awarded to Telkom Media, MultiChoice, On Digital Media and e.sat respectively. An interesting note is that Sentech has withdrawn their application for a license. This means that Telkom Media are still on track for delivering IPTV and what is most likely going to be the first HDTV channels to the South African consumer market.

Telkom Media plans to broadcast at least five new local channels as well as previously unavailable international channels over satellite, cable and the web. The satellite offering will start at about R100 per month for a basic set-top box with a premium DVR (digital video recorder) version available as well. The cable based solution is expected to make use of ADSL 2+ technology which is considered the next generation of ADSL. According to my sources there are currently test trials running ADSL 2+ and the Microsoft MediaRoom IPTV solution. The web solution will offer Web TV, music and video downloads – the only offering that could have an effect on Internet bandwidth cap usage.

So what does this mean for the consumer? I can sum it up in two words – competition and choice. Competition drives down the prices and choice comes in two forms. Firstly the consumer can now can choose which pay-TV broadcaster(s) to use and secondly the IPTV technology makes bundling easier. Currently MultiChoice offers a few satellite bundles but you can’t pick and choose which channels you want and which ones you don’t want. I for one don’t care about the SuperSport channels and as a result I don’t want to have to pay a premium to watch them. Through choice I’m sure Telkom Media will be able to tap into a new market segment that currently cannot afford or is unwilling to pay for a bouquet of channels that are not desirable.

Unfortunately it seems that MultiChoice is really scared now and has already begun securing the rights to content from the six large international studios and therefore securing its monopoly. However I don’t believe that its only the mainstream content that the consumer wants. Surely there are lesser-known content providers out there.

Personally I’m looking forward to being able to watch high-definition TV channels on my TV, aren’t you?

[tags]IPTV,Telkom Media,MultiChoice,Sentech,Microsoft MediaRoom,South Africa,TV[/tags]

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