MTN wants to be an online DStv competitor

MTN is trying to turn itself into a quadruple-play TV service with products like VU, said Larry Annetts – chief consumer officer at MTN SA.

Annetts told MyBroadband that by doing do, they will have to deal with net neutrality issues.

The issue of zero-rating as a net neutrality concern reared its head recently when AT&T zero-rated data for its DirecTV Now service.

This means customers’ AT&T data used to stream from DirecTV Now is essentially free.

This follows AT&T acquiring DirecTV in July 2015 and subsequently launching the DirecTV Now subscription streaming video service.

MTN zero-rates its subscription VOD service VU in the same way.

The zero-rated data decision was met with dire warnings from media outlets like The Verge.

“AT&T just declared war on an open Internet,” it said.

Turn the Internet into basic cable, charge for features and content, then charge competitors to compete with their own vertically-integrated video services, stated The Verge.

Not clear-cut

MTN said a bundled telephony, broadband, and video entertainment operator is the kind of company it is trying to turn into.

However, the debate around zero-rating and net neutrality is not clear-cut, said Annetts.

“Net neutrality and MTN’s zero-rating of VU services are two separate things.”

“MTN’s decision to zero-rate VU should be understood as part of MTN facilitating access to the service for our customers and as part of our marketing strategy.”

Annetts said the zero-rating meant customers will only incur the costs of subscribing to or renting content.

“This is our unique proposition and it is one way of making our customers lives a whole lot brighter.”

Annetts said the decision to zero-rate or bundle a service is not a simple one. “It is entirely dependent on the company’s marketing strategy.”

Now read: MTN zero-rates online curriculum access for university students

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MTN wants to be an online DStv competitor