Digital Content

Nation Media Group has launched a service to deliver news alerts to subscribers' mobile phones.

The new service, to be known as nationMOBILE, will allow cellphone subscribers in Kenya and the UK to stay abreast of breaking news by receiving text message alerts through their phones.

Nation will offer the service in partnership with Cellulant, one of the leading providers of mobile content services in Africa.

In Kenya, the nationMOBILE service will be available to both Celtel and Safaricom subscribers.

To get the alerts through Celtel, users will be required to send a short message (SMS) with the word BREAK to the number 4444 while on Safaricom, users will dial the number 0900 445 0 445.

In the UK, users send a text message with the words LIFE BREAK to the number 80160. The service costs Sh50 in Kenya and £1.50 in the UK. Users will receive six alerts for the amount.

Under the partnership, the Nation Media Group will provide the breaking news while Cellulant will provide the technical support.

Tests for the new technology have been going on since the beginning of this month. NationMOBILE will roll out to the US markets during phase two of the service.

"The Nation group has leap-frogged over all media players in this region into this new era. SMS news alert services are becoming essential for those who are interested in staying ahead with the news, but might not have access to a newspaper, TV or Internet connection," said Mr Charles Onyango-Obbo, NMG's managing editor for convergence and new products. NMG now joins the league of major news service providers providing this service.

Mr Obbo added: "In the years to come, a lot of people will get news through hand-held devices. We have tested the technology and when it happens big time in Africa, we want to be in the leading pack."

NMG's online sales and development manager, Ms Judy Waruiru, said nationMOBILE was the first such service to operate across both Safaricom and Celtel networks with news alerts from the same content provider.