Spotlight: SENTECH Set To Unlock OTT Streaming Opportunities Across Africa!
Mr Tebogo Leshope, Chief Operating Officer at SENTECH, has told Broadcast Media Africa (BMA) that SENTECH is fully set and ready to provide converged technical solutions that will unlock OTT streaming opportunities In Africa!
SENTECH, South Africa’s premier provider of electronic communications network services in the broadcasting is a key industry player in telecommunications and multimedia markets that provides broadcasting and digital content services to corporate institutions, government departments and state-owned entities.
Broadcast Media Africa (BMA) - as part of our “OTT Streaming In Africa Programme” - was in conversation with SENTECH’s Chief Operating Officer and discussed, among other subjects, the company’s vision and plans for OTT Content Streaming in Africa.
Below is the conversation BMA had with SENTECH’s Tebogo Leshope:
BMA: Please remind us of the Operating Philosophy that Sentech has been built on; and how has the way SENTECH does business evolved since it became a stand-alone public entity in 1996?
Tebogo Leshope: SENTECH was established to provide broadcast content distribution services.
The company installed VSAT and wireless connectivity across South Africa, including underserviced areas. SENTECH expanded its service offering over the years OTT services, and today that includes the 5G trials we are currently running with our corporate partners.
BMA: In your role as the Chief Operating Officer of the organisation, how do you see the development trajectory for OTT Content Streaming on the Africa continent? What challenges do you envisage? Also, what opportunities are you looking at?
Tebogo Leshope: Africa is a great market for television, radio and OTT is pervasive with many Africans hungry for entertainment, primarily local-based. As OTT is merely a newer way of consuming the same, there is no doubt that it [OTT] will pick up in the continent.
That said, one has to look at the main enabler for OTT, which is the prevalence of broadband and not just internet access.
Broadband remains the most significant challenge and a bottleneck for OTT in Africa.
Africa is where the future lies when you look at growth opportunities. One just has to look at projects like the Google Loon and Facebook Drone (now Acquila) which are trying to get more Africans on to the internet because this is a huge market by circumstance.
When the circumstances change, we shall see tremendous growth in not just the OTT space but online trade.
As with South Africa, many countries on the African Continent still have issues with internet access for all citizens; this we see as a barrier for streaming services.
There is no doubt that Africa has the number of viewers that would make OTT streaming a viable option, provided that data costs become more attractive and access to networks is made a key focus area on the continent.
BMA: What strategic alliances (partnerships), if any, is SENTECH currently involved in, especially with regards to the delivery of OTT Content Streaming in the markets you are in?
Tebogo Leshope: Again, it is no secret that we are currently working on proofs for concepts with cloud providers. We are working with satellite operators for OTT over satellite, and we are working with end-user gateway technology suppliers.
The aim is to create some “joint ventures” of some sorts to go to the market with.
SENTECH continually strives to make sure that broadcasters’ content is available on any device, anywhere and anytime.
BMA: Please give us a sneak-peek into what new developments and innovation we can expect from SENTECH in the next 5 - generally and also with a specific focus on OTT
Content Streaming provisioning
Tebogo Leshope: It is said, and it is true that “Data is the new currency”. Companies that have mastered the technique to create, capture and deliver value from the data are in a position to offer customer-centric solutions.
We believe that Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence technological solution complementing with “Data-centric” business model will help us to understand content consumers, which could then be translated to personalised content viewing.
Personalisation, Interactive solution and Big Data are the focus on OTT.
Also, we are focusing on broadband technologies like 5G, Smart Gateways – technologies that address the issue of internet penetration and data cost, which will allow SENTECH to provide a holistic and converged technical solution to unlock and launch new opportunities for both our partners and clients.
Everything in the cloud will be global. It will be possible to consume content whenever and however you want. But most importantly, we will rely on artificial intelligence to deliver personalised content and value add. Our platform will be pervasive and seamless to integrate all types of content providers.
BMA: Overall, what strategic advantage(s) does SENTECH have over its competitors when it comes to the OTT-Streaming and On-Demand space?
Tebogo Leshope: SENTECH has the skills in broadcasting infrastructure. It has the real estate terrestrially and, in space, which talks to ease of reach.