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I can exclusively reveal that after years of testing and forced to tread water in regulatory purgatory, MultiChoice through DStv Mobile will officially launch its proper DVB-H mobile television service - a true television broadcast service on cellphone handsets equipped with DVB-H - from December and that it will happen in conjunction with e.tv and will initially be a free service. The launch announcement will be made just before the end of November.
According to sources DStv Mobile's brand new DVB-H broadcasts that will include TV channels such as e.tv's eNews Channel (DStv 403) and e.tv will be free for a few months - at least until the end of March - from the official launch that is currently scheduled for December. An official announcement is coming at the end of November. I'm told a lot of sport through the SuperSport brand will also be included to help with the uptake of this new service under cellphone users. This new mobile TV service by DStv Mobile shouldn't be confused with the current crop of 3G cellphone TV services that South Africans have had access to up til now and which isn't ''true'' broadcasts to cellphones but rather dependent on cellular networks transmissions.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) finally - after years of dragging its feet with drafting and licensing true mobile television in South Africa - awarded mobile television licenses to MultiChoice and e.tv in September. Both are now ready to roll out their TV content on cellphones to South Africans ushering in a brand-new era of true mobile television broadcasting in the country. Both are working together in making content available, I'm told. Initially a limited number of South Africans will be able to make use of the free service (for which cellphone users will still have to register, according to sources) since DVB-H enabled cellphone handsets are still limited in South Africa. With the introduction of this first true cellphone broadcast service and technology in South Africa, the expectation is however that over time handsets will now evolve to incorporate DVB-H enabled technology as well.
My understanding is that MultiChoice will start to charge for this new DStv Mobile offering only after a few months into 2011. As I'm told, music channels like Trace (DStv 325), Channel O (DStv 320), The Cartoon Network (DStv 301), Africa Magic (DStv 114), sport channels and several others will be available at launch from DStv Mobile. After asking e.tv about this, the broadcaster is only willing to officially say ''e.tv will be making an announcement on this shortly''.
ALSO READ: Icasa finally grants MultiChoice and e.tv both DVB-H mobile television licenses.