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Ericsson aims to kick-start VoD in Africa

Ericsson aims to kick-start VoD in Africa.

Ericsson's VoD platform, NuVu is looking to capture the largely untapped African market through a low bandwidth product, according to NuVu Managing Director Niclas Ekdahl.

The service is already scheduled for launch in Nigeria by March this year, in collaboration with Airtel Nigeria. The service is already live in Kenya and is seeking out telecom partnerships.

"The aim is to basically kick-start video on demand on the African continent. Ericsson will be investing in content, technology and operation to bring a full end-to-end managed VoD solution in partnership with telcos to the end consumers," Ekdahl told ITWeb Africa.

"Ericsson has taken the lead to invest in the content," he said. The service hopes to launch with over 3,000 pieces of content in form of movies, television series and documentaries.

"The big challenge is the distribution possibilities. If you look at Western Europe today everyone has unlimited broadband, high fibre speeds and no data caps. The biggest challenge here is very many people with 3G connections, very little fixed broadband and very expensive data charges."

However, Ekdahl still sees a great increase in usage of the limited internet in Africa to access video content from the internet.

From Ericsson's report, TV and Media in Kenya 2015, 80% of respondents across Kenya have smartphones and 60% of them spend their viewing time on mobile devices rather than TVs.

The growing demand for mobile video has also led to YouTube introducing offline streaming feature for smartphone users in Africa in November 2015. Users are able to save videos when connected to the internet and are able to watch them even when they do not have data, for a period of 48 hours.

NuVu will also use network off-peak times to allow users to download their movies without data charges, bypassing the high costs they would otherwise face.

"For the foreseeable future streaming is not a viable option to reach a mass market, you need to utilise the strength of the off-peak download to be able to get proper full length professional content at zero data cost," he added.

He said that this is another way for networks to utilise their idle bandwidth by providing additional services to their subscribers.

"We are in discussion with all the big mobile networks across the continent," he said. "We are starting with the mobile devices and then we will add further devices."

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