SingTel to hold iTV trials in Q3

The idiot box is getting smarter. Singapore Telecoms Ltd will be holding trials for its Interactive Television (iTV) service in the next quarter.

SINGAPORE--The idiot box is getting smarter. Singapore Telecoms Ltd will be holding trials for its Interactive Television (iTV) service in the next quarter.

This couch potato's dream will give viewers video-on-demand, with a chance to preview a program before buying it. Once bought, a movie could be viewed several times within a given period.

The service includes "enhanced TV"--basically Web TV, which lets viewers look up more information on the topic they are watching, by clicking their remote control to hyperlink to Web sites. They can also shop online for relevant merchandise, or order food so they can eat in front of the goggle-box, which will be connected to the Internet by a set-top box.

The ADSL-based service will also let users check their email, or play multi-player network games.

SingTel's multimedia division CEO Andrew Buay is optimistic about the promise the new service holds. "We believe iTV will pave the way for the future of television by providing users with interactive and on-demand features that enhance their viewing pleasure," he said in a statement.

For the immediate future, however, only 300 households in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Thomson will participate in the six to eight month trial. Subject to the regulatory environment and the success of the trial, the service could be launched commercially next year.

If such a service were to get off the ground, it could trigger off other developments in the communications and entertainment industry. "The iTV service has the potential to increase broadband penetration rates in Singapore," noted Buay in the release.

And while SingTel has already signed up Columbia-Tristar, Sesameworkshop, Intertainer Asia and MediaCorpcontent as content partners to provide movies, sports, drama, travel, and news, iTV "will also provide a catalyst for further development of the local IT sector", asserted Buay, "as there will be increased demand for local content to be created, hosted and distributed in Singapore".

iTV will be demonstrated in CommunicAsia 2001 at Singapore Expo from June 19 to 22 at the SingTel booth.