Digicel’s Chief Executive Officer in Fiji, Darren McLean, expects big changes in the television market with his company’s entry in television industry. He talks to Islands Business.
ISLANDS BUSINESS: How does Digicel intends to capitalise on the opportunities that will arise from the Fiji Government’s intention to implement its television digitalization policy?
MACLEAN: We expect the DTT platform to increase the quality of programs in Fiji and based on our exclusive properties we think uptake will be strong as customers can now view Super Rugby and other exclusive competitions in HD. In addition the distribution of equipment will mean that the process for activating pay TV customers will be far simpler.
ISLANDS BUSINESS: What will this mean for customers of Digicel in this country?
MACLEAN: I believe this will mean for customers under DTT coverage the quality and accessibility of Pay TV will be significantly improved – this is a great benefit for customers. What remains to be seen is how government will ensure that customers in all areas of Fiji will be able to use the service. Currently Sky Pacific has 100% coverage. The new DTT platform must be able to achieve the same level of coverage so that the people can stay connected and informed. TV has a great role to play in education so this needs to be at the forefront of our planning.
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AN interesting battle of sorts is taking place in the small telecommunication market of Kiribati in the northern Pacific; Fijian owned ATH Kiribati Telecom taking on the might of global telecom conglomerate 03b Networks. The former users the conventional transmission platforms of submarine fibre optics for its international communication and transmission lines and towers for the domestic market, the latter, whose headquarters is at St Helier, in the English Channel, relies on low orbiting satellites.
“O3b has been highly successful in serving the Pacific Islands,” says Vicki Warker, Vice President Marketing of the global company. “It was the first market where we launched commercials services and to date we have over 6 Gbps of contracted capacity. The O3b constellation is scalable. Twelve (12) satellites are in orbit. The last batch of four (4) satellites was launched in December 2014. “O3b is planning to launch an additional 8 satellites in 2017-2018 to support the demand for low latency satellite services.
The O3b constellation is not limited to twelve (12) satellites. More satellites will be launched as demand requires. Additional satellites will not only increase the capacity of the O3b system but also substantially increase the efficiency of the O3b system.” Warker observed satellites have been used in the Pacific for years. But she felt changes in technology is fuelling the rapid growth of 03b Networks in the islands, especially given the fact that data applications today are “media rich and usually cloud based.”
CELL phone users in Fiji should expect bigger, better and more variety in content of services they will be able to access on their mobile devices once the Fijian Government implements its digitalisation programme, so says the CEO of Vodafone Fiji, Pradeep Lal.
“Mobile phones are highly penetrated and widely accessible and increasingly being used as medium for communication, information and entertainment. Digitization of TV would make it easier for mobile network operators to play in the TV space by offering “on-demand” videos, information and entertainment through the mobile device.
Terrestrial TV allows little flexibility to viewers because of fixed TV programme schedule. “On demand” content via smart devices and phones through the mobile network will allow viewers the flexibility to view content at their convenience,” says Lal. Responding to Islands Business questions via electronic mail, the Vodafone Fiji boss said there are various models that mobile network operators adopt to enter into the TV space. Acquisition of existing TV stations is but one such strategy.
This is what its competitor in Fiji, Digicel has done with the acquisition last month of Fiji Television’s satellite based service, Sky Pacific. Vodafone ruled out doing a similar acquisition, commenting that it believes in the philosophy that “content is king.” “This would mean more variety, wider accessibility and greater flexibility and freedom on the type of contents individual customers are able to view at their convenience.