Launched: Free broadband access to edutainment software

Singapore, 18 November 1999 - In order to exploit Singapore's nationwide broadband network Singapore ONE, a homegrown developer -Horizon.com - has launched an edutainment portal, HORIZONbBAND, to deliver commercial CD-ROM-based multimedia and edutainment content through the high speed pipeline.

Singapore, 18 November 1999 - In order to exploit Singapore's nationwide broadband network Singapore ONE, a homegrown developer - Horizon.com - has launched an edutainment portal, HORIZONbBAND, to deliver commercial CD-ROM-based multimedia and edutainment content through the high speed pipeline. HORIZONbBAND is officially launched today by Singapore's Acting Minister for Communications and Information Technology and Minister of State for National Development, Dr John Chen.

The broadband, interactive multimedia portal caters to corporations, educationists, young adults, parents and children. HORIZONbBAND will be the first portal in the world to enable Singaporeans to access more than 200 CD-ROM-based edutainment titles without needing to buy the physical CD-ROMs.

The portal, predominantly targeted at the education market, features quality educational games and recreational software culled from publishers such as Broderbund, Creative Wonders, IBM Edmark, Mindscape, Mattel Media, Net-G and The Learning Company.

The two anchor channels on HORIZONbBand are:

Horizon World - a virtual learning activity centre based on Horizon JESI, the Horizon Group's IT-based children's workshop learning curriculum; and

Horizon PlanetIQ - a virtual catalog that will eventually (from next year) hold more than 2000 CD-ROM titles and additional video titles.

To take advantage of the services, users need to be connected to a cable or ADSL modem and running Windows. A plugin called Horizon.iEXPRESS has to be downloaded and installed, to control the streaming of CD-ROM image data from the portal's servers. Access to the site's services at this URL is currently free, and will remain so through the current three-month pilot phase ending 28 February next year. From then on, subscription fees will range from S$28 (Horizon PlanetIQ only) to $38 (for both channels, plus 5MB of server space for storing game scores, study notes, etc, for remote retrieval anywhere in the world).

Subscription to unlimited access to both anchor channels will be on a monthly basis but non subscribers can "rent" access to individual titles for a few days without a monthly subscription fee.

Next year, the portal aims to provide content in broadband and narrowband formats for interactive multimedia by the middle of next year. There are also plans to widen the choice of channels by extending the portal to third-party channel operators and partners. From now till the middle of the year 2000, HORIZONbBAND will focus on building infrastructure and the acquisition of more content. Beyond this period, regionalization will take place through franchise agreements with major Broadband service providers in the Asia Pacific.

Companies with vested interests in HORIZONbBBAND include NCB Holdings (The National Computer Board's investment arm) and Oracle Systems SEA. Oracle Systems SEA has been chosen to develop the e-business strategy for this project.

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