Liquid Telecom to leverage its fibre in war on streaming titan Netflix

Thursday February 4 2016

Liquid Telecom’s CEO Ben Roberts during a press

Liquid Telecom’s CEO Ben Roberts during a press briefing in Nairobi on February 04, 2016. PHOTO | LILIAN OCHIENG 

By LILIAN OCHIENG'
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Liquid Telecom has ventured into video on demand leveraging on its extensive fibre network sparking a market share war with US video streaming titan Netflix.

Liquid Telecom which currently has connections to 2,500 homes expects to connect 10,000 homes by year end luring the households with its ‘ipidi flix’ which will run on its fibre network.

Chef executive Ben Roberts said the service comes in a package called ‘Hai’ targeting homes, small and medium enterprises, towers and Wi-Fi hot spots.

“We believe that our over 20,000 Km fibre network across borders will provide support for our video streaming services and in turn grow our revenue in the East African region,” said Mr Roberts at a press briefing Thursday.

REGULATORY DISCUSSIONS

US video on demand service Netflix brought its services to Kenya January, it has since been the subject of regulatory discussions. The Kenya Films Classification Board (KFCB) has insisted that the service must be subjected to local film regulations, stating that it streams immoral content not suit for the local market.

Mr Ezekiel Mutua, the KFCB chief executive, has been determined to engage Netflix to comply to set film laws. The ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru on the other hand said Netflix is an Over The Top (OTT) service provider whose infrastructure is not laid in Kenya, making it hard to regulate it.

With the advantage of fibre network, it remains to be seen whether Liquid Telecom can compete with Netflix on quality of content.

Liquid Telecom's ipidi flix is a monthly subscription service with access to over a thousand hours of Hollywood movies, TV series and documentaries.

Elsewhere, in the world, regulation of Netflix has also posed a challenge. This has seen Indonesia’s state-owned telecommunications giant bloc Netflix from streaming on its network since January 27.

Both Liquid Telecom’s ipidi flix and Netfix pose a threat to Pay Tv services in Kenya (DsTv, Zuku, GoTv, Star Times) since the video streaming services have unlimited movies, documentaries and series throughout the day.