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Let’s get high-quality information to low-tech devices in Africa

AnnelieGuest commentary

Annelie Moreira Da Silva, DW Distribution Representative for Africa

Smartphones are fast becoming the standard tool for consuming news and information, but for many people in developing and emerging countries, this technology is still out of reach. It is estimated that out of the total 5 billion mobile users worldwide, only 1 billion are using smartphones. The remaining number represents a majority of people in emerging and developing countries who are using 2G or “feature phones” for mobile Internet access.

DW works hard to provide top-quality news and information to people in hard to reach places. In emerging markets such as in Africa, expensive Internet and mobile technology makes smartphones a luxury that few can afford. Most people try to use their feature phones to access valuable social networks and online news which usually demands a higher level of data processing than these devices can provide – but there are some solutions.

A innovative platform called biNu is providing a way for feature phones to efficiently navigate the web. And since June, DW has been cooperating with biNu to provide feature phone users in Africa with easy access to DW’s high-quality online news content.

The biNu app provides high-end functionality by turning feature phones with a basic Internet connection into “virtual smartphones.” It achieves this by using cloud networks to process and compress data from websites allowing the end result to be easily used via a feature phone. The result of using a cloud platform to streamline data is a service that is 10 times faster than a standard mobile browser while requiring 10 times less bandwidth. The displays are simplified and optimized for a feature phone and the most important elements of the website are passed on to the user.

The service already has more than 900,000 users in Africa, mostly located in fast-growing media markets like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana but also in countries like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia where, because of the difficult political climate, are harder for international media to access.

Even as infrastructure improves, the low cost of feature phones and continually expensive network and Internet access means that many people in these developing countries will continue to use their mobile phones as the primary device for going online. Providing them with easily accessible news, information and social networks is a hugely important task. Through cooperating with biNu, DW can overcome the disparity in international technological standards and provide information that people need on the device that they prefer.

Date

2014-08-06 | 7:27

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Market roundup: July 2014

South America

News and information from DW Portuguese for Brazil is now being featured on UOL (Universo Online SA), Brazil’s largest online portal and the world’s largest Portuguese-language news and information platform. After a recent cooperation agreement, UOL will now include a full-text DW feed on the website. The cooperation has the potential to greatly increase DW’s online audience – UOL boasts 29,8 million unique visitors and 4,2 billion page views every month along with 4.1 million Facebook fans.

Africa

DW news content in six languages for Africa will soon be able to reach a potential 900,000 users via BiNu– an application that allows low-tech or “feature phones” to have quick and easy access to the Internet. Target regions include Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and especially, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Asia

CTH, the Thai television provider and DW broadcasting partner, has increased its range of service and is now broadcasting via the Vinasat 2 satellite. The expansion will deliver CTH’s international programming package, which includes the English-language channel, DW, to 10,000 additional subscribers along with the millions of current cable subscribers. CTH is also planning to start a DVB-T service later this year which could reach a potential of one million new customers.  DW has been carried on CTH’s digital cable network since July 2013.

The Vietnamese cable provider, HCA TV, is once again broadcasting DW after an extended interruption in service. DW programming will be rebroadcast on the provider with Vietnamese subtitles.

The Taiwanese online news and information portal, Commonwealth, will now be including full-text DW content in Chinese. It is the first such cooperation outside of mainland China and will include reports from business, the environment, sports and education.

Europe

T24, the Turkish online news portal, is a new DW partner and will now be prominently placing full-text Turkish language articles from DW on the website. T24 is renowned for independent and quality journalism in an increasingly draconian Turkish media landscape, having won an award from the Turkish Journalists Society in 2010.  It is one of the most-quoted online sources in Turkish media and features content from more than 30 prominent authors and journalists.

Online

DW is now on Instagram with Inside DW, a new part of DW’s customer service website, MyDW, which features a look behind the scenes at the work of DW’s journalists, producers and correspondents.

Date

2014-07-07 | 1:07

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