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Safaricom renews push for digital broadcast licence

Safaricom chief executive, Mr Bob Collymore. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Safaricom chief executive, Mr Bob Collymore. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM says it will seek answers from the telecoms regulator over the three-year delay in issuance of its digital broadcast licence, chief executive Bob Collymore has said.

The telco is seeking to venture into commercial free-to-air television services as part of triple-play offering plan–TV, internet and fixed line telephone services – to homes.

The firm wants to use its fibre optic cable network for the triple play offering.

“What we need now is to get a triple-play solution and to do this, it’s about getting a broadcasting licence which we still don’t have,” Mr Collymore said.

“We will have another go in the next month or so to find out what’s the problem and how can we overcome it.”

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the regulator, said in September it had put on hold the approval process for the broadcasting permit to the giant telco pending the results of a study on competition in the industry.

Preliminary findings

The CA two years ago commissioned consultancy firm Analysys Mason of the United Kingdom to assess competition in the ICT sector, whose outcome is yet to be determined.

Preliminary findings of the draft report, leaked last February, indicated that Safaricom was dominant in voice and mobile money with more than 80 per cent of the market share, but had not abused that dominance.

The application by Safaricom, Kenya’s only profitable mobile network operator, for a broadcast licence has been pending with the regulator since August 2015.

“I think the large part of it has been maybe the broadcasting industry itself has been lobbying against it (approval of Safaricom’s permit),” Mr Collymore said.

Safaricom had also applied for an internet protocol TV service (IPTV), subscription management and terrestrial subscription broadcasting services licences, enabling it to broadcast content over the internet.

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