In May, Safaricom officially launched the Big Box, a media streaming device. The device also had over 30 local free-to-air TV channels and access to the internet via Wi-Fi, 3G/LTE or a wired connection. The Big Box also serves as a Wi-Fi hotspot allowing users to share the Big Box’s cellular data with up to 10 other devices. The Big Box runs on Android and came with 1 GB RAM and 4 GB internal storage. That is expandable to 32 GB using a microSD card or a USB flash drive. The Safaricom Big Box was sold at Ksh 9,999 with an option to get it at Ksh 4,999 through the Easy Pay Plan after which you’ll be required to pay Ksh 999 installments monthly for six months.
In a Kenya Gazette notice, Safaricom has been awarded four licenses from the Communication Authority of Kenya. The licenses include a commercial free-to-air television license, an internet protocol television license, a terrestrial subscription broadcasting service and a subscription management license. The license signal Safaricom’s intent of bolstering its offering in the digital television space.
The free-to-air license allows the telco to offer its services as a one-of purchase price and viewing attracts no extra costs as is the case with the Big Box currently. The internet protocol television license will allow Safaricom to offer its service like Hulu and Netflix does. Users are able to pay a fee and stream the content via the internet to their devices including mobile phone or laptop. The terrestrial subscription and subscription management licenses allow Safaricom to provide pay TV services as offered by GOtv and StarTimes.
In the same breath, the Communication Authority has been keen to implement new regulations aimed at seeing more local content on television sets. The regulations stipulate that media houses present their content to the authority before airing it every week. They also impose stiff penalties for parties who fail to abide by these regulations upto 0.5% of their annual revenues. The authority has been especially keen on implementing these regulations on players seeking broadcaster licenses.