AFKInsider: What challenges have you faced setting up Able Wireless in Kenya?
Right now the only challenge I have is with government, tax and regulatory. Beyond that everything else has gone as expected. The frequency is supposed to be licensed by CCK (Communications Commission of Kenya) because this is a Wi-Fi based thing. We qualified for the license but the regulator said that there was a pending action by the Media Owner Association so they could not issue a license. This is an issue that is being managed by the AG (Attorney General) office. I feel this will be a historical error for us not to roll out on our time schedule regardless what the regulator says. It is really up to them and they know what we are doing.
Tax-wise, the government has not given us any incentives even though they are giving foreign companies incentives. We wanted taxed relief due to assembly of equipment and creating employment in Kenya. Other companies get 10 years tax breaks. We didn’t get that. We’ve been forced to do manufacturing and assembly offshore. So the amount of employment we could have created locally has gone offshore.
We were supposed to roll out in November and that didn’t happen. I would have to speculate on when we would launch, but if we continue this way, (maybe) April. We already have equipment on the ground.
AFKInsider: What is the size of your organization and how do expect that to grow ?
The company is growing. From the day we launched we will grow at a scale of about 4 employees a month. That will include customer care, sales, support and others. We have recruited some staff already. We have two tier customer care, the first line support on the ground is outsourced, while the more back end stuff we keep our own guys.
AFKInsider: Who are your competitors in this business?
Everybody is competing with us. Safaricom (The largest telecoms firm in east Africa), DSTV, Zuku, Startimes and any other person out there. We are battling for TV screens. Whoever has more TV boxes tied to the screens is the winner. So everybody that is attached to the TV screen is competition to us. Assuming tax hold our set-top box may costs 4,500 and 500 per month for the service. We feel confident we can deliver quality unlimited internet at this price.
AFKInsider: What make your product better than your competitors’?
diversity of content that is far wider than all these other guys put together. our delivery mechanism is cheaper. It is much more affordable by 83 percent, which give us much more leverage and advantage over the pre-existing platforms. It is primarily on demand so you choose what you want to watch. You don’t wait for it to come. A lot of media service providers have been requesting us to carry their service. We will be carrying their local channels, but I still don’t know when. those talks are at an advanced stage.
AFKInsider: Do have any expansion strategy planned for Able Wireless?
Everyone has regional ambitions and I suppose we should have regional ambitions too. But right now we are worried about opening the door. Once we do that and everything go well we can then allow our self to be a little more ambitious. We have been invited by nine regulators to offer services in their country. About five in West Africa, some in Southern Africa and regionally.
AFKInsider: What other products are you looking to come up with?
There will be an on-line gaming platform that we will also roll out. It is vendor driven and we will be supporting independent devices. We are also looking at our own internal platform based on Steam from Valve. We have been talking with Valve to allow use build our own Steam box to allow internet gaming. These are still in the very early stages, but we will be looking at a 500 shillings gaming platform as well or probably even less. We will support anybody that comes to us on this, whether local or international.