MTN Nigeria is making preliminary moves into digital pay TV. The telco has procured license from Nigeria’s broadcasting regulator, NBC, to use the 700 MHz spectrum to provide pay TV broadcasting services, according to Vanguard.

MTN purchased the license for NGN36 billion ($154 million), the money that NBC says it will apply into setting the country’s analog switchoff back on course. According to NBC, the money is only a little shy of 50% of its NGN70 billion ($351 million) switchover budget.

Nigeria missed the initial June 17, 2015 deadline along with most African countries. The country has now set a new deadline in concert with other West African countries for June 20, 2017. NBC believes Nigeria is on target for the new date.

“With the current arrangement through which we have secured more than half of our budgetary needs to transit, and as we explore other avenues, we are confident that the new date is achievable,” NBC director general, Emeka Mba said.

In June, few days after missing the digital switchover, Ghana announced it had already begun working towards another deadline set for March 2016. It doesn’t appear that Ghana is part of this accord reached by Nigeria and other West African countries on the switchover.

Meanwhile, MTN’s move into cable TV services is significant. The telco has been racing to reduce reliance on voice as various OTT services like Whatsapp, Viber and others impinge upon that substrate of its services. In 2014, it rolled out a slew of services that made TechCabal conclude at the time that MTN was no longer just a Telco, but more.

It’s unclear how MTN will execute its cable service. The company has apparently been discreet about it. But it’s likely that it will draw heavily from what Safaricom already has in Kenya. It’s not the first time MTN is dabbling into paid-for video entertainment. In 2014, among of the fungible services it rolled out were DoBox and Afrinolly, both streaming services for Hollywood movies.

Gbenga Onalaja Author

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