Gambian state telco GamTel is testing IPTV technology and formulating plans to launch so-called triple play VoIP telephony, broadband internet access and TV services, according to allAfrica.com. GamTel recently completed its first DSLAM installation and has less than 50 broadband customers. However, it is installing a further six DSLAMs and believes that this will be the catalyst for substantial broadband growth. It is aiming to increase its high speed subscriber base to equal 60% of the current dial-up market, which is somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 customers. It plans to launch an IPTV trial once it has established a suitable number of broadband clients to test video-on-demand using the content archive of state-run Gambia Radio and Television Service. allAfrica’s report says that for triple play to go beyond the test phase, GamTel will need to agree a deal with Africa’s largest private content provider, South Africa-based Multichoice.
Weighing up potential triple play demand, the telco estimates that there are more television sets in the country than there are fixed line phones; there are currently around 40,000 fixed line subscribers in the country. A broadband-based VoIP service is one strategy being considered by GamTel, as it looks to drop its international call tariffs to win back the estimated 25% of traffic lost to the illegal grey market. GamTel’s monopoly is likely to end some time this year with the passing of a new Telecoms Bill, which will also allow regulator PURA to issue guidelines on the legalisation of VoIP.