Low-Bandwidth Mobile Video Streaming in Africa

The exponential increase in video streaming and mobile penetration has resulted in a wide choice of platforms for mobile video streaming globally.

The list of Startups or Startup-Graduates in this space is endless.

Netflix, for instance, boasts a large library of quality content (movies) at a cost. Hulu Plus provides ad-supported television shows from most major television networks in the United States of America. There are many others with similar services like Amazon Instant Video, YamgoTV, Yahoo Screen, etc. This is the status quo in the United States of America.

Besides some of these services being restricted to the United States, their bandwidth demands don’t match the African Mobile Broadband story. Some brave compatriots who have bypassed restriction laws often get a quasi-slideshow experience.

South African streaming company, Streamit360, recently announced plans to launch high-quality streaming products and a dedicated content portal. Aflix also recently announced that they’ll provide a library on Hollywood content to 30 African countries. There are many other video streaming platforms across Africa.

Who do these mobile video streaming services benefit in Africa?

The Ericsson Mobility Report June 2014 states:

"In 2013, the Middle East and Africa was dominated by GSM/EDGE, which represented around 85 percent of mobile subscriptions in the region. Mobile subscriptions will grow from 1.2 billion in 2013 to 1.9 billion in 2019. By this time WCDMA/HSPA will be the dominant technology with 65 percent of total mobile subscriptions. However, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions will still be significant. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, GSM will remain the dominant technology until 2018, due to the dominance of lower income consumers using 2G-enabled handsets."

In South Africa one of the major broadband providers, Telkom, will only be launching LTE Advanced in December 2014 over 57 suburbs, as announced at the recent myBroadband conference. It’s safe to then conclude that a diminutive group of Africans enjoy Mobile Video Streaming and we’ll be frozen in this scene for some years.

There are companies such as Gravitylab who “work behind the scenes” to ensure that your streamed video plays well over different mobile platforms, Operating Systems, video players and browsers. Only a few of these companies, however, seem to tackle the low-bandwidth scenarios head-on. Those who have tried have not been able to go below the 100 kbps mark.

Ericsson Mobility Report

Hark! Pierre van der Hoven, CEO and Founder of Tuluntulu has the solution!

With over 20 years in the Media industry, Pierre launched Tuluntulu which uses a unique platform designed for streaming video to mobile devices in low bandwidth or congested environments.

We caught up with Pierre via one of our weekly #iAfrikan Twinterviews.

Tuluntulu is built on Adaptive Real-Time Internet Streaming Technology (ARTIST) which is an innovate platform developed by a consortium of Researchers and Engineers from the University of Cape Town (UCT), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and East Coast Access.


Currently available in the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, Tuluntulu allows you to stream the likes of well-known Al Jazeera and ANN7 for FREE.

I was hoping to open up a discussion about regulation of video streaming of region-restricted content, or lack thereof. My diplomacy only earned me the Ignoramus Award.

Cover Image Credit: Sam Greenhalgh