State owned telecommunications company, TelOne has applied for a broadcasting license to offer video on demand (VoD) services, the industry regulatory authority said on Monday.
The company, which wants to widen its revenue base through the new service, posted a $25 million loss last year.
TelOne has blamed legacy debts, amounting to over $370 million, which were inherited from its forerunner, the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation and the costs of servicing them, for impacting on its performance.
At the moment the company is providing internet services as well as its traditional voice calling services. Last year the firm said it was slowly weaning itself from over reliance on the voice revenue, which was being affected by new technologies, to focus on broadband internet, which is envisaged to take over as the new cash cow for the business.
The possible introduction of VoD services will broaden its revenue base, although the marketability of the product remains unclear. VoD is an interactive television technology that allows subscribers to view programming in real time or download programmes and view them later.
The service, which is referred to as "on demand" because consumers are able to access a program which has been broadcast as and when they wish to do so, can be delivered directly over the internet to advanced television sets or computers or alternatively can be provided via a set-top box, almost the same as what is commonly referred to as a decoder.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) said TelOne had lodged full details of the application for the license with it. "Take notice that the applicant has applied for a broadcasting service license in terms of Section 10 of the Broadcasting Services Act (Chapter 12:06)," it said.
BAZ gave members of the public 14 days to comment on the application before a decision was made on whether to grant the telecommunications firm the license.
It remains to be seen the way the pubic will react to the news and possibly subscribe for the service, if Tel One is granted the license, given how expensive access to internet in the country is at the moment.
There will also be competition from other alternative satellite entertainment providers such as MultiChoice and the Kwese, which recently hit the market.