Ghana telecom strikes deal with Indian operator to offer IP-TV

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Ghana’s telco incumbent Ghana telecom has struck a deal with Indian operator Wisenet to offer an IP-TV service to its broadband subscribers. Ghana Telecom provides the marketing and delivery and Wisenet provides the back-end technology and content, covering the costs of rights for the latter.

According to Redeemer Kwame, Head of Business Development for Fixed Network Services, the company decided “to take advantage of the technology. As we had broadband, we thought why not introduce IP-TV? The challenge is to be sure the copper is working fine but we’re getting much better at doing it.”

The deal initially splits revenue 70:30% and there is a two year review breakpoint. Ghana Telecom thinks that it will take four years to break even and it reaches that point with about 10,000 subscribers. Currently Ghana Telecom has around 15,000 subscribers for its DSL service (about 35-40% of the broadband market) but has a target of hitting 50,000 subscribers by 2010. Eighty per cent of current subscribers are in Accra and Tema. The set-top box for the service costs US$250 but they will be giving it away free to subscribers.

The service is currently in its pilot stage with eight channels but when rolled out customers will be offered three bouquets: the lowest at US$12 will give 10 channels and 10 movie downloads; the mid-range bouquet at US$27 will offer 20 channels and 20 movie downloads; and the premium bouquet will cost US$35 and will give 30 channels and 30 movie downloads. There will also be several FM radio channels that will be free to all subscribers. The back-end from Wisenet can handle up to 40 channels.

So what about Triple Play? According to Kwame:”We haven’t done IP Voice before but we will consider it. We would start with low price or free calls between broadband subscribers then extend this to anyone who is a GT subscriber. We’ll be implementing it in stages.”

Content will include the five local Free-To-Air channels, Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and Ghanaian movies, South African musicals and news channels (Al Jazeera, CNN and BBC). It will show Premiership matches 24 hours after the event and classic sport like the recent Africa Cup of Nations. An interactive element will also be announced once the service is fully launched in May 2008.