Although the digital television platform has been available, it has been hard for Kenyans to access free-to-air set top boxes, with only 11,000 sets sold in Kenya according to the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).
StarTimes marketing manager Steve Ambitho said the decoders, that cost KSh5,000 (US$60) will also help it increase its market share in the digital television market, which is currently over 60 percent, with 170,000 pay-television subscribers.
“What we are doing is giving our clients the opportunity to choose between pay-TV and free-to-air TV, a flexibility they have been seeking for a long time with free-to-air decoders in low supply in the market,” said Ambitho.
StarTimes chief executive officer (CEO) Leo Lee said the decoders will further solidify the company brand as a set top manufacturer and retailer in the market, similar to other countries globally, where the company has sold over 25 million set top boxes.
Customers already subscribed to the pay-TV service will be required to top up an extra KSh2,000 (US$24) to get to the FTA service with over 40 channels.
Lee is however confident there will be limited shift from the pay service to free-to-air given the premium channels available under the pay-television service.
“Most Kenyans want to know what is happening in the world and not just local news as provided by the free-to-air, hence this will be a motivation to continue paying,” he said.
In the meantime the company says it is increasing its presence in the country by hiring more staff. It has already established a call centre with over 100 staff supporting clients 24 hours a day.
The company has also set up 16 customer service centres in seven major towns: Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyeri, Kisii and Meru.
Moving ahead the company says it will be increasing awareness on the benefits of digital television, saying the lack of information was the greatest challenge to the uptake of set top boxes.