Still On GOtv

Going back to the DSTV retail shop in Lekki to pick up a GOtv branded cable TV package was not without apprehension and skepticism.

My first visit was not a fulfilling one, I really was not impressed with the picture quality I was shown . Also, no thanks to the limited coverage of GOtv’s signals in Lagos, you are thrown back to last century’s technology with the outdoor antenna you are forced to use to improve reception.

GOtv has two packages, the GOtv and the GOtv plus. The GOtv package hardware is being sold at an introductory price of N8000 and includes 3 months of free viewing for the 26 channels on offer while the GOtv plus hardware is N9500, also with 3 months free viewing for the 33 channels on offer. Subsequent monthly subscription fees is put at N1,000 and N1,500 respectively for the GOtv and GOtv plus packages.

Since my purchase is intended for my kids, I was forced to subscribe to the GOtv plus package because it contains the Disney Junior kiddies channel, their favourite. A summary of the channels available for each pacakage is listed below.

The installation package comes with the decoder, remote controller – the same as the one used for regular DSTV, AV cable and an indoor antennae. For N2,500 more, you are given a basic antennae which should come with a pole.I was swindled out of my pole.Please note that GOtv does not use any Smartcard.

The Installation is quite straightforward. On Lagos mainland, you may not have a need for an external antenna. However, if you live on Lagos Island, you definitely would be needing one.

I could not mount the outdoor antenna yet because of the missing pole. However, carefully placing the antenna on my balcony, i got about 26% signal strength and surprisingly, it was good for viewing with no artefacts.

Overall, i think it is a good buy especially considering the low monthly subscription. The picture quality is comparable to what is being offered on the regular DSTV cable regular packages. I would expect GOtv to speed up the expansion of its coverage area as the external antennaes constitute an eye sore.

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GoTV – Putting The Cart Before The Horse?

GOtvBy now, many would have heard about GoTV, the latest cable TV company in Nigeria and yet another subsidiary of Multichoice, the parent company of DSTV.

Multichoice is a South African company with a near monopoly of the Cable TV industry on the African continent. It has almost 5 million subscribers across the continent with Nigeria being the single country with the highest subscription.

DSTV’s business model can be summed up in this phrase, “No Mercy To Competition”.  They have been noted for muscling out all their competitors, no thanks to the huge resources at their disposal. And unfortunately, the Nigerian Government have not come out in anyway to legislate against their unwholesome practices.

Even though DSTV services is quite popular in Nigeria, it is on record that they have not been able to capture a significant percentage of the Nigerian populace. Excluding hardware fees and installation costs ,monthly subscription fees range from between N4,900 (US$30) to about N10,000 (US$60). Fees that are definitely out of the reach of most the 170 million residents of Nigeria.

A company came up and sought to fill this huge gap in this untapped market. This translated to a partnership between some Chinese entrepreneurs and Nigeria’s network station NTA. A company called Startimes was formed and offered cheap set top boxes and monthly subscription fees of about N1,000 (US$6).

Now, DSTV has decided to muscle out Startimes with its equally cheap cable packages, albeit with superior programming content.

However, in a bid to do this, they rolled out without their structure fully in place to cater for the yearnings of Lagos residents. Perhaps because of the high population density on Lagos mainland, their solution was to site their GoTV transmitters there, leaving the Island with poor reception. This has probably resulted in slow sales.

On inquiry from a sales lady on when a transmitter would be sited on Lagos Island, she replied “month end”. Let’s see how that plays out.

Well, we all know the Chinese for being masters at price wars. Let’s also see if they would fall to the South Africans’ monopolistic business antics.



Star times…Good times

Was driving through Ikota shopping complex, near VGC (Lagos), earlier today when a very visible banner stopped me in my tracks. There on the doors of Broadview Supermarket was boldly displayed; Startimes Decoder, N7000 plus one month subscription FREE! Best of all, monthly subscription is only N1,000 for 36 channels! Of course, I parked my car in the nearest free spot to check the stuff out. The nice sales lady in attendance was glad to show me what was on offer.Very nice programming, for the price, and the display would match the competition, DSTV’s non-HD channels. With an array of stations like E! Entertainment, etv (South African Station), MGM, BBC, Aljazeera, TBN, Kidsco, MTV Base, CCTVN, Trace, Discovery World, Bollywood TV, Setanta and a host of other Nigerian and foreign channels, it was impressive.

“Competition!”. That word gives be pleasurable feelings, deep in the pit of my belly. The recent crash in the price of acquiring DsTv (Digital Satellite Television) equipment from about N18,500 to N9,000 (Nine Thousand Naira) came as a shock to many. Time was when possession of the almighty DsTv system was something that gave you “bragging rights’ at pubs! When somebody told me he just saw the price slash in the papers, “Na lie!”, I blurted out unconsciously. But with Startimes’ offer, now I begin to see the picture more clearly.

StarTimes, a collaboration between NTA and its Chinese partners StarTimes of China, came into the DTH saltellite market then with a bang! They touted advantages such as:

–    N9,000 (Nine Thousand Naira) equipment cost

–    No need for any special installation (Plug N Play!)

–    Insusceptibility to inclement  weather

–    Portability of equipment

–    and above all, a friendlier introductory monthly subscription rate of N1,000.

People exclaimed “Wao” and rushed to them like “Puff-Puff”

StarTimes Centres and Dealerships started springing up left and  right…

Now, wait a minute,something told me DsTv will not fold it arms and allow its potential and existing customers to be snatched by this new entrant.

–    Their first response was to introduce a new bouquet of N1,500 to partially counter the N1,000 subscription rate offered by StarTimes. This, of course, merely addresses existing DsTv subscribers who may have been toying with the idea of switching over to “enemy camp”. It does not really provide any incentive for newbies to jump on “DsTv HighWay”

–    DsTv then applied the masterful stroke of slashing their equipment cost to THE SAME PRICE as StarTimes’. Take that, bloke! Case closed!

What salient lessons can we draw from this struggle, the struggle for our monthly donation (subscription) by these two companies?


The brains behind the StarTimes project – no doubt – saw a yawning market in DTH services in the country.

With the failure or comatose nature of cable and satellite companies like TrendTv, Trumpet Internet Television (TiTv), Frontage Internet Television (FiTv) and more recently,  HiTv and  DaarSaat– they must have thought that all they need to hit the fianancial jackpot is easy, “Offer good service at the right price”.

Well, current events show that it is not so simple…

You may have demand for a service (the market), have correct pricing, have the spread (the NTA backing) – and still fail in business. If the competion is established, and has over-developed financial biceps, you need to think outside the box.


To the “warring” parties, it shows that “leverage” (and the way you use it) is everything in business. DsTv already has the customer base, and arguably, the better financial base too. DsTv must have long broken even, having operated in Nigeria and a number of African Countries for years. They are therefore very able to engage this new entrant in a war of prices. Maybe that is why they are still beating around the bushing, reducing equipment costs instead of subscription cost. They can even go to the extreme of offering their decoders FOR FREE (even if temporarily). This is not likely to send them into financial oblivion. It is doubtful if StarTimes – having negligible customer base – can attempt to engage DsTv in this kind of fight! However with adequate Government backing, Startimes may be able to carve a sizeable market for itself.

StarTimes needs to do something that has nothing to do with price. It should be an added service of some sort. What, I do not know.


As consumers, it showcases the wisdom of not being an early adopter of anything new (especially in the technology world – where an established gladiator already exists). I will keenly and carefully watch  what steps StarTimes will be forced to take, now that all the balls are firmly in their court.

As dealers, the lesson here is never to put your eggs in one basket. I am sure people who went into the DaarSat dealership big-time are now biting their metaphoric fingers! When a company is new and small, it is always better to take baby steps – growing with them.

Additionally, it is wise to carefully define your target market.

Am I writing StarTimes off? Not in the least!

For them to survive this price war with Dstv they will need to re-think their business strategy. And fast too. For the life of me – if I am asked what strategic steps StarTimes can adopt to get out of this strangulation, I am likely to just shake my head and walk away in bewilderment!

That is the honest, ungarnished truth!


Push Email – Revisited

Love it or hate it, the Blackberry has indeed become the device of choice for a lot of mobile enthusiasts, especially those who want to conduct business on the move.  Another category of users are those, who more out of peer pressure than anything else, find themselves clutching one, not considering the fact that they can barely afford it and greatly ignorant to the advantages the device confers. These are the set of people that would rather offer their BB pins than their mobile numbers, no “credit” for phone calls.

And for those of us who are torn between loving and hating this range of devices,  we would quickly list the following as some of the reasons why we have not caught the Blackberry bug;

– You can not use BlackBerry effectively unless you have a BlackBerry Internet plan. You are effectively tied to the apron strings of your network provider because without it, there is no blackberry messenger or email support.
– Theoretical “unlimited” data usage limited by the less than 3MB download limit using the in-built BlackBerry Browser and email client, a restriction placed by Blackberry.
– Less features compared to phones of similar or even lesser pricing
– Constant access to work.Your boss and co-workers will expect constant communication,  ignoring company emails can have negative effects. This is especially true if your BlackBerry is provided by an employer with demanding deadlines.
– Blackberry devices and Internet Plan are rather expensive and unaffordable to many.

smartphone push email

Grudgingly, we have also identified the following as the advantages or the edge blackberry devices have over other smartphones;
– They use up much less wireless network capacity to complete the same tasks, but some attribute this to the crappy, outmoded Web browser that doesn’t deliver comparable modern Web experience.
– Longer battery life
– Most Blackberries have usable QWERTY keyboards, so you can actually type fast and with no errors

But one major feature that is really the envy  of most is the Email Superiority. This was also our summation in a related post, in which we limited its efficiency only to the quality of internet services being offered by the mobile networks.

So what exactly are the features of Blackberry email messaging that separates it from the rest?
Email was the original purpose of BlackBerry devices and even after numerous operating system changes and upgrades, the email program still works much like it always did. BlackBerry is a Pioneer of Push Email. Wikipaedia describes PUSH EMAIL as e-mail systems that provide an always-on capability, in which new e-mail is actively transferred (pushed) as it arrives by the mail delivery agent (MDA) (commonly called mail server) to the mail user agent (MUA), also called the e-mail client. E-mail clients include smartphones and, less strictly, IMAP personal computer mail applications.Your emails, Calender are synced all the time.

Some alternatives were analyzed, Seven and Emoze email clients were listed among the best. However, these email clients are limited by their functionality. They act mostly by polling emails from email servers on a scheduled basis and pulls any messages into unique folders in your device. This process, apart from the fact that you do not get your mails in real time, it also drains your battery heavily.

push email smartphones

I took it upon myself to find a more satisfying and equally efficient alternative to the Blackberry, an alternative where i am not required to use any particular device and to a large extent, play by my own rules and not that dictated by any network.

Microsoft Exchange Hosting does pretty much all what Blackberry does and will work across lots of devices. You can pick up any symbian device and either use the free Mail4Exchange or the more reliable RoadSync which is not free. You can also use activesync with your Mobile Outlook for Windows Mobile devices, your iPhone, Android, Palm or just about any device that supports Microsoft Exchange. In a full Exchange environment, not only is everything synced at the server with the mobile device, and depending on your subscription, you would also get a free copy of Outlook 2007 for your home computer as part of the deal and that would also be synced with the server.  So changes to your email, calendar, notes or contacts made on, say, your computer will update the server and the mobile. Everything is synced and pushed in real time.

The cheapest Microsoft Exchange hosting i have been able to research is from It offers 3 mobile email services;

mail2web Basic
mail2web Mobile Email
($4.95 or N750/month)
mail2web Mobile EmailPro ($9.95 or N1500/month)
Outlook Web Access Yes Yes Yes
POP3, IMAP4 and SMTP NO Yes Yes
ActiveSync NO Yes Yes
BlackBerry Service Add-On NO Yes Yes
RoadSync Add-On NO Yes Yes
Outlook 2007/2010 (Windows) NO NO Yes
Entourage 2008 (Mac) NO NO Yes

To effectively get a blackberry-like service on your smartphone, all you need is the mobile Email Plan going for $4.95 per month (about 750 Nigerian Naira).

From the chart, BlackBerry Service Add-On simply means that if you have a Blackberry device, you can avoid subscribing to any mobile network. All you need do is pay a minimum of $4.95 for a mobile Email Plan, then an additional $9.95 for a Blackberry service add-on, making a total of $14.90 (about N2,250 per month).

You would still need to subscribe to one of the low cost monthly data plan from, well, the mobile networks. A 50MB plan is more than sufficient, but I doubt if there is any. Etisalat and Airtel (Zain) have a 100 MB data plan for N1,000 per month. But if you’ll rather use Microsoft Outlook, you do not need a mobile data plan for this.

So with just N1,750 per month (could be less), I can effectively rival blackberry services.

But why dabble in uncertainties? Thankfully, is offering a 60 day trial, so you have a long time to test their services before subscribing. However, you will need to leave your card details but you can cancel if you wish. Nigerian Cards Accepted.

You do not have to host your domains with or tamper with your Nameservers in anyway, like some providers may require you to, to subscribe to their services.

The only thing close to a snag that I have noticed is that you are required to create an email address in the form, this is the default address mails from all mailboxes would be sent from. You are also required to enable email forwarding from as many mailboxes as you want to this mail box. This is easily done in gmail and CPanel hosted emails. However, the process of changing the default address that mails would be sent from is not very straight forward.