Regulator rushes to license mobile TV

16 Apr 2010

South African broadcasting and telecoms regulator The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is racing against time to issue mobile TV licences in time for the Soccer World Cup tournament starting on 11 June. Robert Nkuna, an Icasa councillor, was reported as saying that two multiplexes have been set aside for mobile TV. One multiplex can carry up to twelve TV channels, depending on the technology used. No company will be allowed to occupy more than 60% of a multiplex. MultiChoice, which has been testing mobile TV technology by streaming some of its existing pay-TV content to cellphones over the past three years in cooperation with various wireless network operators, is planning to apply for a licence. Its parent company, Naspers, said last year it had set aside ZAR98 million (USD13.4 million) for mobile TV services, which it has already launched in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia.

Interested parties have three weeks to submit their applications to Icasa. Nkuna said mobile TV licences would be offered on a technology-neutral basis. The second multiplex will be available after the regulator has opened the market for the second round of pay-TV licences.

In a separate announcement, Icasa has suggested an aggressive cut in mobile and fixed interconnection rates. The regulator has proposed a three-year glide-path for both mobile and fixed service licensees: mobile interconnection rates, currently set at ZAR0.89 per minute, are proposed to be reduced to ZAR0.65 from July 2010 and further reduced to ZAR0.40 from July 2012. Furthermore Icasa has proposed that fixed line interconnection rates be reduced to ZAR0.15 from July 2010 and ZAR0.10 from July 2012. Hearings related to the draft wholesale call termination regulations are set to be held at the beginning of June, and are set to be in place by the end of the month.

South Africa