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Safaricom moves into TV space with mobile broadband STB

Safaricom BigBoxKenyan mobile operator Safaricom is moving into the TV market with the launch of a mobile broadband-connected set-top box.

Announcing the move, Safaricom said it is targeting the “largely untapped home market” with the launch of a hybrid data solution that will allow subscribers to view TV content and share data connectivity.

The BigBox DVB-T2 set-top box will allow subscribers to use Safaricom’s 3G and growing 4G data network to access content. Subscribers will be able to view several TV channels in HD format and watch content on-demand through online video services such as YouTube, according to Safaricom.

The device also doubles as a WiFi hotspot for up to ten users, supporting data-heavy applications and offering an “integrated home entertainment solution.”

“Our vision is to enable a differentiated broadband internet solution that will enable our subscribers to harness the power of the internet to watch new and exciting content from anywhere in the world from the comfort of their homes,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.

“This market first is only possible through our continued investment in building a robust data network which can support the provision of data heavy services to our subscribers. The BigBox is inspired by our continued focus to democratise data use across all segments of society.”

The BigBox will be available to subscribers through two payment plans.

The first option lets subscribers access the set-top box through a six-month instalment plan that will cost them an initial KES4,999 (€46) with an additional KES999 being charged monthly for six months. This package includes access to free-to-air TV stations, an allocation of up to 6GB a month in data bundles and free YouTube viewing.

The second option allows the subscriber to purchase the set-top box for a one-off fee of KES9,999, which also gives them access free-to-air channels, up to 6GB in data bundles a month and free YouTube access. Subscribers can also top up their balances by buying monthly data bundles.

Safaricom said it aims to target “untapped demand in the home broadband market”. It also aims to reach “the estimated 2.4 million households out of the 3.2 million households that have access to digital television sets but are not using any of the set top boxes currently available in the market.” The BigBox will be available in all major cities across Kenya.