IPTV service debuts in Singapore

update Powered by Microsoft's IPTV platform, local telco SingTel rolls out commercial deployment of its Internet-based TV service in the island-state.
Written by Lynn Tan @ Redhat, Contributor on

update SINGAPORE--SingTel today launched its new IP-based TV service across the island-state, some eight months after it was issued a trial IPTV service license.

Dubbed mio TV, the service is based on the second generation Internet Protocol television (IPTV) technology--touted to have lower bandwidth requirements, higher definition and multiview functions--and will be powered by Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV and multimedia platform, said John Walthall, director of Microsoft TV.

Singapore's Media Development Authority awarded SingTel a six-month IPTV trial service license last November, allowing the local telco to conduct technical IP trials including HDTV.

In a phone interview Friday with ZDNet Asia, Walthall said Alcatel-Lucent has been roped in to integrate the front-end systems for SingTel's implementation in Singapore.

According to Microsoft, its Mediaroom offering is an IPTV and multimedia platform that enables broadband service providers to deliver next-generation TV features to consumers, including personal media sharing, standard- and high-definition live TV channels, advanced video-on-demand (VOD) and digital video recording (DVR), and "new connected entertainment experiences".

Some new features available on the Mediaroom platform include picture-in-picture and instant channel changing capabilities, Walthall said, adding that subscribers can also access the electronic program guide using their smartphones.

According to the Microsoft executive, SingTel's new IPTV service will be used in a "main TV environment" for viewing on traditional TV sets, where subscribers will have the option to extend their viewing capabilities to PCs, mobile phones and even Microsoft's Xbox game console.

Low Ka Hoe, SingTel's director for IPTV and content, told ZDNet Asia at the mio TV media briefing held here Friday that subscribers can use their smartphones to view content from selected channels, access the electronic TV guide as well as program the DVR, starting from August this year.

Asked if subscribers will have to install additional hardware or software, Low said that subscribers will require a mio box and a set-top box to access the mio TV service. According to SingTel's Singapore CEO Allen Lew, the mio box is the gateway--or the ADSL modem--that "converts everything in the home into an IP format [and transmits the data] to our network", while the set-top box is the device which interacts with the TV. The service runs over a telephone line.

Lew added that a "unified box that can handle both [functions]" is likely to be available "in time" with future hardware developments in this area.

While the mio TV content is already in place, customers can only sign up for the service from Jul. 21, and can only start viewing the content from Aug. 6 because installation work for the set-top box will only be available then, according to SingTel.

In addition, the telco will configure the set-top box with an 80GB harddisk drive for customers who want the option to record the content, according to Low.

The launch of mio TV puts SingTel in direct competition with StarHub's cable TV service, which currently leads the Singapore pay TV market.

In June this year, Portugal Telecoms deployed its commercial IPTV service under the moniker "meo" that runs on Microsoft's Mediaroom platform, Walthall said, adding that Alcatel-Lucent was also the systems integrator for this rollout.

The South Korean government in September 2006 said it will pour in US$6 million on an IPTV trial.

According to research house Gartner, there will be 48.8 million IPTV subscribers worldwide in 2010, generating US$13.2 billion in service revenues, compared to US$872 million in 2006.

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