Safaricom has applied for a digital broadcasting licence as it aims to take advantage of the convergence coming with digital TV migration to deepen its presence in the wireless Internet market.
The move comes a little more than a year after the firm revealed an interest in entering the TV-on-demand market.
Francis Wangusi, the director general of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), said Safaricom applied for the licence two weeks ago complete with approval for a set-top box — the gadget that converts analogue signals to digital.
“Safaricom is the latest firm that has sought type approval for a set-top box. They have also applied for a digital broadcasting licence but we have yet to approve that,” Mr Wangusi said, adding that the regulator was still considering the possible impact of television signals on the quality of telecoms services.
Bob Collymore, the Safaricom chief executive said they are mainly interested in using the set-top boxes to deliver Internet to households that own a TV set. He has in the past spoken of selling Internet and TV as a package.
If awarded a licence, he said, Safaricom would deepen its plan to establish a presence in the emerging broadcasting sector by taking competition to the doorsteps of the mainstream media.
Mr Wangusi said the CA had approved Safaricom’s set-top box, giving it an advantage in capturing the emerging home Internet market.
Safaricom plans to sell the universal set-top box in the local market, meaning buyers will also have access to all free-to-air TV channels.
The telecoms operator’s approach to the emerging digital broadcasting dispensation is similar to that of Africa Digital Network (ADN), the company owned by the three media houses that have been at war with the government over digital migration.