MTN South Africa set to offer IPTV

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The operator looks set to offer video on demand and interactive video services, with an Internet protocol television product set to be launched, possibly as early as this year.

MTN South Africa looks set to launch a commercial Internet protocol television (IPTV) product, quite likely later this year or early next year, as it looks to expand into offering “over-the-top” services on its mobile broadband infrastructure.

“If you look at the evolving of MTN into a services company, content will be a key component of that,” says MTN South Africa MD Karel Pienaar in an interview with TechCentral.

“We have been experimenting for a long time with IPTV and content in all its forms and shapes,” he says. “We have a new platform where we are doing limited customer trials.”

Before the operator launches any content services, however, Pienaar says it is imperative that the pricing and experience for consumers is “correct”.

At a demonstration on Wednesday of high-definition video being streamed over MTN’s 4G/LTE network, the operator hinted at the possibility of zero-rating data for customers that purchase content that is streamed over its network. If this is applied, they will pay only for the content they purchase and not the data that is used to download or stream it.

“We look 10 years hence,” Pienaar says of MTN’s plans in the content space. “By then, the average South African will probably have a piece of fibre and will do all his video watching via that fibre, or he will have an LTE interface and so the provider of a lot of the content [he will watch] will be his telco. MTN is absolutely there, but it’s not something you rush into. We are experimenting with dozens of different options. Depending on how successful the trials are, we would like to bring IPTV to market this year already.”

He says MTN is already in discussions with potential content providers.

Telkom has also said it plans to offer IPTV and video-on-demand services on its fixed-line broadband network and is expected to launch a commercial product in 2013.