SouthTel debuts double-sided remote
Cape Town – SouthTel wowed the crowd when it unveiled a double-sided remote control with a full keyboard at the back for its brand-new VOD:TV video-on-demand service which it will be launching in 2012 in several Southern African countries.
Oscar Dube, SouthTel CEO and founder, unveiled the VOD:TV decoder and remote control at the AfricaCast 2011 TV summit in Cape Town which is part of the 14th AfricaCom conference.
He said VOD:TV, which was trial-tested with regional specific advertising for provinces, is ready to be rolled out with an offering of 200 hours of high definition (HD) content per month and 400 hours of standard definition (SD) content. His presentation drew enthusiastic applause from delegates and TV executives across Africa.
"For the very first time in Africa and South Africa we're looking at true covergence," he said as he held up the VOD:TV remote control and turned it around to reveal a full keyboard at the back.
"As a user you will no longer just be using your TV to watch TV. You can Facebook, you can do anything you want on your screen. You can access anything via your TV," he said.
Deals in place
SouthTel has already signed content distribution deals with all the major Hollywood studios for its push VOD service that will work with satellite and a 3G-enabled card in the PVR to enable a true return-path VOD service – a first for Africa.
The VOD:TV decoder has a secure, European-based conditional access system to encrypt and protect the content on the decoder.
"We're looking for partnerships with broadcasters and telecoms," he said, "because in every country we're looking for local content as well.
"We will also easily be able to customise the user-interface of VOD:TV from country to country."
200 hours of HD content coming
"If you look at pay TV in South Africa and the rest of Africa, they don't really have a true return-path way to communicate with subscribers. VOD:TV will. You don't buy packages, you consume content as you want to by using airtime while video and audio is pushed to the set top box (STB)."
He said SouthTel doesn't need broadband or anybody's infrastructure.
"We have our own infrastructure, so mobile operators who want to partner with us don't have to spend cash on capital expenditure or operational expenditure.
"We're looking at doing about 200 hours of HD content and content will also be specifically customised per country. Were not saying because you're in Zimbabwe or Botswana you have to watch the content we will be having for South Africa.
"We, together with mobile operators, will be able to completely customise for your country and your subscriber base's needs.
At the forefront
"SouthTel is at the forefront of the mindset shift for Africa that you have to move away from traditional linear television to more on-demand TV content which is transactional based – viewers watching the content that they want, when they want to."
The conditional access system that SouthTel's VOD:TV decoders will be using is Safe Access which belongs to Logiways.
"It's certified, approved by the Hollywood studios, it's deployed currently in Europe for Hollywood content and it will work in exactly the same way with SouthTel's VOD:TV platform here in Africa," said Rick Smith, the senior vice president for sales and marketing of Logiways in France.
"We secure the content from end to end from the ingestion right through to the consumer consumption. The conditional access system is specifically designed, unlike linear systems, to protect content whilst it resides on a STB right up until the time it is deleted," he said.