Ghana is now home for digital mobile TV

The first digital mobile-phone-enabled TV content viewing service launches in West Africa, in Ghana.

With a partnership between Black Star TV and South Korean company 2ii Tech, Ghana has become home to the first service in West Africa for mobile-phone-enabled TV content viewing. Employing Terrestrial Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (T-DMB) technology, the new service allows users to view movies, sports, music videos, 24-hour news and current affairs.

Accessories and the handset necessary for viewing, known as FonTV, cost GHC350 (US$345.66) and include free service for the first three months, after which time subscribers pay GHC4 per month. The battery lifespan of the phone is three hours of viewing time on a single charge.

Ghana Telecommunication Company (GT), operator of Onetouch mobile phone service, is currently the only mobile network to operate FonTV, but South Africa's MTN and DSTV have plans to launch another mobile TV with different technology. The launch of the service comes after three months of a successful pilot program.

Ibrahim Adjei, corporate affairs manager of Black Star TV, said in an interview that Ghana's main attraction for the service is its "strong, stable economy [and] the conducive political atmosphere, underscored by a strong market of mobile penetration with the current seven million subscribers."

"Ghana also has a well-developed and innovative media, which facilitates our operations. The country also boasts of a good human resource capacity, with high enrolment in institutions offering Information Technology and Information and Communication Technology courses. All the above factors are buttressed by the professionalism and capabilities of the Ghanaian business partners that form Black Star TV."

Although Ghana is the first to embrace the T-DMB technology, countries like Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa also have access to Mobile TV, but rely on analog technology.

The new service, which covers the Greater Accra Region, will be extended to the Ashanti Region in the next three weeks, followed by the Northern, Western and Central regions, in that order. Managers of the mobile TV hope to cover all of the 10 regions by early 2009. The two companies will ensure the service reaches parts of Ghana where there is no television signal, he said.

In the future, the partnership plans to introduce e-commerce services to allow consumers to use the digital mobile television platform to trade goods and services, as well as a traffic watch service, with a dedicated channel on which viewers can observe (via networks linked to CCTV cameras) road networks that are free from congestion.

Beyond the delivery of digital mobile television, 2ii Tech and Black Star TV hope to establish a manufacturing plant in Ghana.

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