DVB-H: Europe flop, but African hit?

Chris Forrester

DVB-H, the cellular industry’s technology that allows handheld phones to pick up TV signals, has been a resounding flop in Europe with little or no enthusiasm for the scheme. But it seems the story in Africa might be very different, especially with Africa’s soccer-crazy fans during next year’s World Cup tournament.

Nokia-Seimens’ local outfit in Johannesburg is providing Multichoice subsidiary DMTV with DVB-H phones in readiness for the system’s introduction in Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Nigeria, and tapping into DStv’s pay-TV signals. “This agreement opens a historic new chapter for entertainment and connectivity in Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Nigeria. This pioneering partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks and Nokia will deliver a world-class mobile experience for our customers, providing support for different devices,” said DMTV CEO Francois Theron.

Aleksi Toikkanen, Head of Consulting and Systems Integration for DMTV at Nokia Siemens Networks said, “We are glad to support DMTV to be among the first to launch OMA BCast compliant mobile television broadcasts in Africa. With our open standard solution we help DMTV attract new customer groups with a state of the art mobile TV service. We are excited with the prospect of DMTV becoming the largest DVB-H broadcaster in the continent. Knowing the specific market in Africa we foresee huge growth potential in connecting people via mobile television and the Internet.”

The solutions offered by Nokia Siemens Networks are based on the open DVB-H and OMA BCAST standards. They allow short implementation time as well as end-to-end capability, combining the equipment, services and devices to create a unique solution for Mobile TV service providers.

The launch of “DStv mobile” in Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Nigeria will provide a blueprint for other Mobile TV service launches in various African countries. DStv is a service from DMTV, Africa’s digital-satellite television service, which has been distributed in Kenya exclusively by Safaricom since last year and which runs on the DVB-H and OMA BCAST mobile broadcasting technology.

“This is an exciting time for mobile convergence in Africa,” said Philip De-la-Vega, General Manager for Nokia Nigeria. “We are especially pleased that Nokia, working together with DMTV and the operators MTN, Safaricom and MTC, is able to offer consumers 12 months access to DStv mobile when they purchase a compatible DVB-H handset. This showcases the enormous advancements in handset technology, now enabling TV on the go for consumers. The service is currently available on Nokia N96 and N77, which both have an integrated DVB-H receiver. In addition users of Nokia N79, N85, N86, N97, E75 and Nokia 5800 XpressMusic devices can access DStv mobile by purchasing a Nokia Mobile TV Receiver SU-33W. We are also committed to increasing the range of supported devices especially ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”