Category Archives: SingTel Mio TV

SingTel Mio TV

Are You Next Gen NBN Ready?

What the heck is NBN? In Singapore, it stands for Nationwide Broadband Network. It is essentially, Singapore’s all fibre optic, ultra highspeed broadband network, which is capable of delivering data at speeds of 1Gbps or more to all residential and commercial buildings in Singapore.opennet-ngn
What is the purpose? According to the MDA:

You may have encountered long waiting times when downloading files, or jerky videos when watching movies online or even poor responsiveness when playing online games. Files are also getting larger as the need for more information or higher video resolutions increases rapidly over time. Low speed internet gives you a poor online experience and limits what you can do. In Singapore today, our home broadband network supports connection speeds up to 100Mbps. Although it is sufficient for some, it may not be adequate for many in the future as our need for speed grows.

So who do you contact to get FibreOptic Internet? You need to contact an RSP, Retail Service Provider; they are: M1, MyRepublic, SingTel, StarHub, SuperInternet, and ViewQwest.

How do you know if your residence or commercial office building is equipped with Next Gen NBN? Simply visit the OpenNet website, and enter your address.

Illegal Singapore Set-Top Boxes Seized

The always interesting competitive saga between SingTel Mio IPTV and StarHub Cable TV took on a new twist last month when SingTel urged StarHub to crack down on illegal TV set-top boxes.

SingTel, which said its mio TV service is pirate-proof, has urged StarHub to upgrade to a more secure system to prevent unauthorised access by non-subscribers. Vendors have been seen selling pirated set-top boxes openly and offering EPL content in several shopping centres.The devices are being sold for about S$200, up from around S$90 previously, and some sellers go as far as promoting them through flyers in mailboxes.

By Singaporean Law via the Broadcasting Act, buyers and/or sellers of illegal TV set-top box devices can be fined up to S$40,000 and jailed a maximum of three years if convicted. But this is a tough charge to file much less reach a guilty verdict, because the authorities will need a search warrant to enter someone’s home in order to obtain proof.

While it is not central to this story, it is forth-telling of the Pay TV climate in Singapore by reading the Facebook comments relating to this TodayOnline.com article.

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Well, just two days ago, hundreds of illegal set-top boxes were seized by authorities in a police raid.

These STBs, found in a storage facility, were reported to be used to view StarHub TV channels, which is one of Singapore´s telecommunication and pay-TV provider. The raid was a result of months of investigation to track the syndicate which was distributing sales flyers for STBs that could unscramble StarHub TV content Selling, importing or manufacturing illegal STBs in Singapore. StarHub had destroyed 300 illegal boxes over two years back.

As a result if these developments, StarHub is in the process of moving its pay-TV customers into a new encryption standard that will once and for all prevent the unscrambling of channels by illegal boxes.

StarHub has had a loss of subscribers over the past couple years as it’s customer based dropped from over 550,000 to 532,000 in March of 2013.

Singapore Hotel Television Solution at-visions

Last year, the German company at-visions sparked a deal with Singtel for its ONEvision suite of services, to sell television solutions to hotels throughout Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. SingTel Group is Asia’s leading communications firm with operations and investments in more than 20 countries.

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According to the press release posted at the at-visions website:

With the partnership, at-visions and SingTel hope to bring even greater synergy to the hospitality markets that they both serve. This partnership will translate into greater value and savings for its customers. And we would offer greater variety and integration of content, especially for hotels in the (Singapore) market.

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How has this partnership manifested?

We had the chance to utilize the hotel TV product in one particular Singapore venue, and found that, the product platform hardware is actually from a company called Pivos, located in Fremont California. Specifically, the product platform is an IPTV set top box called the Pivos XIOS DS Media Play, which is essentially an android app device.

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The Gadgeteer wrote a good comprehensive review of the Pivos XIOS DS Media Play after having put it through the wringer for over a month. In summary, they conclude the following:

If you’re looking for something to play your media on a TV, there are better  options available.  We’ve reviewed several here at The Gadgeteer.    This box is not for the technically challenged and is definitely not  plug-and-play.  However, there may be a market for the DS  Media Player.  The device could be a platform for techies that want to  experiment with Android in a box, and it can be used as an XBMC device by  downloading the Linux XBMC firmware.  Just be prepared to spend a lot of  time on the vendor’s forums and website.

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The remote control however is from at-visions, and while it is a sleek, elegant, precision engineered, finely crafted remote. It is however a bit complex, with many buttons that don’t function (or are not activated). It is also not easy to know what buttons you are pushing in the dark, and unable to read the labels.
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The channel content changed in just the five days we test drove device. Currently, the channels available are 6 MediaCorp FTA channels: Ch 8, CNA, Okto, Ch U, Suria, and Vasantham, and also 3 sports channels Fox Sports, Mio Stadium and Star Sports.

However, three days ago, it also contained MediaCorp Channel 5, Asia Travel Channel and Bloomberg. All 3 of those channels just vanished a couple days ago.

The picture quality is good, but often “jumpy”, like as though it is skipping an occasional few frames. There is a long delay between switching channels, perhaps 4 seconds on average. And on occasion, the picture freezes, requiring the box to be rebooted. But this is not clear if it’s a problem with the box, or the internet connectivity, I suppose the latter.

Singapore IPTV Provider Centrecom

comtrendWhen contemplating IPTV providers in Singapore, one immediately thinks of SingTel’s Mio TV, by far the leading IPTV provider with just over 400,000 subscribers. However, there is another lesser known player in town, Centrecom.

Centrecom is a subsidiary partner of MVI Systems Ltd for the IPTV business in Singapore and has implemented IPTV systems in over 6 Singapore hotels since 2008, managing and supporting a combined total of 2,551 rooms.

But Centrecom doesn’t manufacture the TV set top box, they license it from a Taiwan firm called Comtrend. Before you hook up with Centrecom and try to order IPTV in Singapore, you should note the following:

  • Minimum order from Comtrend is 1000 STB’s.
  • Each STB is approx $80.
  • Centrecom is responsible or doing deals with channel content providers in Singapore, Comtrend only provides the STB’s.
  • Centrecom is responsible for the homepage and UI navigation of the TV experience, it is usually done in a Linux/HTML5 environment.
  • Comtrend predominately sells their STB’s into hotels and schools.
  • Centrecom’s implementation of the Comtrend IPTV set top box in Singapore offers the following channels: a.) ALL 7 Mediacorp FTA channels. b.) CNBC Singapore c.) BBC World d.) CNN e.) NHK f.) Discovery Channel g.) HBO h.) Zee TV I) MTV Asia j.) E! Entertainment k.) National Geographic Channel.

Singapore Cross Carriage Act Update

The Media Development Authority (MDA) introduced a cross-carriage measure back in 2010, mandating that screening rights for all exclusive television content deals be made available to the customers of competitive Pay TV operators.

The act originated from a bidding war between StarHub and SingTel to obtain broadcasting rights for the 2010-2013 English Premier League football season. SingTel Mio TV won contract by paying a heavy price, which would eventually be transferred down to the consumer. In exchange, obtaining this contract helped drive their Mio TV subscriber base nearly 400%, from 117,000 in 2009 to just over 400,000 subscribers in 2013.

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According to Adeel Najam of Frost & Sullivan, SingTel lost money by acquiring EPL broadcast rights. Specifically, it is estimated that they paid $350m to acquire EPL rights, but only brought in $200m throughout the duration of the EPL contract.

  • SingTel’s mio TV service would gain 360,000 subscribers by 2013 and is expected to have a pay TV market share of 46% by that time.
  • Of the 231,000 subscriber additions in 2010 alone, 90,000 will be churned from Starhub (these subscribers will switch from Starhub to SingTel) and 100,000 subscribers will take up mio TV service for sports in addition to keeping their Starhub subscriptions in 2010.
  • The sports content acquisition will enable SingTel to double its ARPU by 2013. SingTel’s mio TV ARPU is expected to reach $45 by 2013 and this will be very close to the current level of Starhub’s pay TV ARPU.
  • Starhub which will now face stiffer competition from SingTel and experience a decline of 68,000 pay TV subscribers in 2010.
  • The key risk for SingTel is that this costly investment will make it more challenging for it to turn its pay TV business profitable. On a conservative basis, with an ARPU of $28 for the EPL content, SingTel will be able to accumulate $164 million in the three years from mio TV. Adding revenues from internet and mobile TV platforms this can reach around $200 million. This is 43% below the estimated bid price of $350 million by SingTel for the EPL content rights. Other risks SingTel might face are consumer backlash and regulatory scrutiny.

The Media Development Authority (MDA)’s cross carriage measure enacted on 12 March 2010, was to address the concerns over the nature of competition in the Singapore pay TV market, to put an end to the fierce bidding frenzy for exclusive content, which only served to drive prices up for both Singaporean TV operators and the public.

In theory, the measure would work as follows… StarHub subscribers who want to watch EPL, can simply pay an additional fee for access to this content. StarHub then pays that additional fee to SingTel, who then provides the channel content back to StarHub for delivery back to their customers. The reality of this measure however has proven different.

Last year, StarHub won a contract for the UEFA Euro 2012 matches. The Cross Carriage measure kicked in for the first time, and SingTel Mio customers were given access to theses live matches on their Mio TV box, so far, so good. The act seemed to be working.

However, soon after, SingTel obtained the exclusive contract for the 2013-2016 season EPL football broadcast rights. StarHub customers tried to pay for access to this content but SingTel refused to provide it, claiming that the contract was non-exclusive. The Straights times explains as follows:

This is the first time the cross-carriage rule is being challenged – ironically by SingTel, which benefited from the rule during the screening of UEFA Euro 2012.

SingTel took the auction for EPL broadcast rights in Singapore off the table last November, forcing StarHub to sit on the bench, while the first round of bidding kicked off all around Asia.

It is unusual not to have an auction. Still, SingTel said its deal with the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) was “non-exclusive”. This meant two things: StarHub was free to negotiate its own EPL screening rights at some point; and the cross-carriage law – which applies only to exclusive deals – could not kick in to force SingTel to share the content with StarHub.

SingTel tried several times to not provide EPL game content, arguing first that the deal wasn’t exclusive. After that argument fell through, they took the position that it is not reasonable to require them to subsidize a competitors subscribers. Straights Times writer Loh Keng Fatt explains:

SingTel had tried to argue that its EPL deal wasn’t exclusive, but the regulator didn’t buy that argument. The telco reacted to the order to share EPL by raising rates, arguing that it could not subsidise its competitor’s subscribers.

The upshot? SingTel’s existing mio TV subscribers will still pay the old rates. But new subscribers and those recontracting will pay from $64.90 a month for a Gold Pack, which includes movies and entertainment. This is substantially more than the $34.90 charged previously for a sports bundle, including EPL.

StarHub viewers will pay $59.90 a month to watch EPL. StarHub has also rolled out packages to entice those in the rival camp as well as encourage its subscribers to stay with it to watch EPL and other content.

But amid the fancy brochures and touted savings dangled by both telcos in playing up their packages, the fact remains that the cost to watch EPL has ballooned – compared to last season’s basic $34.90 deal.

Worst off are probably mio TV subscribers on the old $34.90 basic football deal.

It is no wonder then that the 400,000-plus mio TV subscribers – many of whom probably signed up for the football – may now wonder if the cross-carriage rule, though well-intentioned, has scored an own goal instead.

The current status of cross carriage measure in Singapore can be found at this Straights Times article. Another perspective can be found here. And the Hardware Zone has a good discussion thread about this issue.

Maybe the cross carriage measure will eventually function as it was designed, to keep costs down. Time will tell. But in it’s first iteration, it has essentially served to doubled the price of Pay TV sports packages in Singapore.

Television Turns 50 in Singapore

Picture courtesy of MEDIACORP, ST FILE, COURTESY OF KWAN SECK MUI

Picture courtesy of MEDIACORP, ST FILE, COURTESY OF KWAN SECK MUI

This year marks the 50th anniversary of television in Singapore. Indeed, it was 1963 when television was first introduced to Singapore, 6pm on Feb 15, 1963 to be exact. It has been quite a road travelled when you look back and see all of the changes that have transpired.

The current landscape for television in Singapore has been well summarized by Mr. Boon Chan of the Straight Times, stating:

According to Nielsen’s Media Index Report last year, free-to-air TV continues to have broad reach with most popular terrestrial channel Channel 8 reaching 62.3 per cent of the population, followed by Channel 5 with 54.2 per cent. In the pay-TV market, StarHub has about 532,000 subscribers, while SingTel has 404,000. The competition for attention is not just between pay and free-to-air TV. Mr Gui Kai Chong, an instructor at the National University of Singapore’s department of communications and new media, says: “TV now has to compete with new sources of entertainment and new forms of leisure, and that is a big challenge.”. He ticks off more families having cable TV subscriptions and more young people turning to the Internet and mobile devices and adds that “TV has a much harder time trying to attract and retain people’s attention”.

Singapore Television Milestones

1963 A pilot television service commenced on Jan 21.

Feb 15 marked the inaugural launch of Television Singapura at the Victoria Memorial Hall. Then Minister of Culture S. Rajaratnam gave an opening message at 6pm. The first programme was a 15-minute documentary called TV Looks At Singapore. It was followed by Cartoon Time featuring the magpies Heckle and Jeckle, News in English, Hancock’s Half-Hour with comedian Tony Hancock, and Rampaian Malaysia (Malaysian Mixture), a variety show that later became a staple on television. Transmission ended at around 7.40pm.

On April 3, President Yusof Ishak’s address was viewed by people in their homes for the very first time, marking the inception of regular television transmissions with Television Singapura. Regular broadcasts began, with four hours of English-language programmes on Channel 5.

1965 Singapore’s separation from Malaysia was marked by a teary and emotional announcement on Aug 9 by then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

1974 Public response was reportedly lukewarm to colour transmissions at first. It was only during the World Cup football season that more people started buying television sets in colour. Approximately 1,000 colour television sets costing more than $2 million were sold three days before the live finals on July 7 between Holland and Germany.

1982 The 50-minute long The Seletar Robbery was the first locally produced Chinese language TV drama.

1984 Singapore Broadcasting Corporation’s (SBC’s) first large-scale outdoor variety show was Singapore’s 25th National Day Parade.

Seminal series The Awakening, which made enduring stars out of Huang Wenyong and Xiang Yun , aired.

1988 Zoe Tay emerged triumphant in the first edition of the talent-scouting Star Search – and a star was born. Previously, there were Talentime singing competitions held, starting in the 1960s.

1990 Stereo audio was launched on all TV channels.

1992 On April 2, SBC launched the nation’s first subscription television channel, NewsVision, through its new subsidiary Singapore CableVision (SCV). The 24-hour news service showed mainly news from United States’ Cable News Network (CNN).

1994 First local English-language drama Masters Of The Sea aired and “I’ll crrrush you like a cockroach” went into the annals of TV’s unforgettable lines, albeit for the wrong reasons.

The first Star Awards were held and Li Nanxing and Chen Liping were named Best Actor and Best Actress.

1995 First English-language sitcom Under One Roof aired. It was exported to Australia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Canada and won the Best Comedy Programme or Series Award at the Asian Television Awards in 1996 and 1997.

Channel 5 and Channel 8 began broadcasting around the clock.

1997 Amali Thumali (Hustle And Bustle), Singapore’s first Tamil sitcom, made its debut on Prime 12.

Popular local serials, including Return Of The Condor Heroes starring Fann Wong and Christopher Lee, made their maiden appearances on Taiwanese cable TV via Television Corporation of Singapore International.

The Prime 12 Awards were the first to recognise talent in Malay and Indian television.

2000 Suria replaced Prime 12 as a dedicated channel for the Malay community, while Central replaced Premiere 12 with three distinctive programming belts catering to specific audiences: Kids Central, Vasantham Central and Arts Central.

2001 TVMobile was launched and made available on SBS Transit buses, at Suntec City’s Fountain Food Terrace and on Bintan Resort Ferries. It was scrapped on New Year’s Day 2010.

Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) MediaWorks was Singapore’s second broadcaster from May 2001 to January 2005.

2004 MediaCorp and SPH merged their mass-market television and free newspaper operations.

As a result of the merger, MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, a new jointly owned TV company, was created – with MediaCorp owning an 80 per cent stake and SPH holding the rest. MediaCorp took on the running of the new organisation, which would now comprise MediaCorp Studios and all the channels operated by both companies (Channel 5, Channel 8, Channel U, Suria, Arts Central, Kids Central and Vasantham Central).

2005 Asia’s first 3G mobile drama P.S. I Love You was launched.

2006 Subtitles were introduced for news bulletins on Channel 5, Channel 8 and Suria for the benefit of hearing- impaired viewers.

2007 HD5, the first high-definition TV channel, was launched.

SingTel’s mio TV was available from July 21.

2008 Vasantham Central was expanded to a full-fledged free-to-air channel, Vasantham. Another new channel, Okto, featuring Arts and Kids Central content, soon followed.

2009 The Ultimatum was the first Channel 8 drama to be fully filmed in high-definition. And viewers zoomed right in on the facial wrinkles on Zoe Tay.

Thanks to Mr. Boon Chan, media corespondant of Singapore Press holdings, for a well written nostalgic walk down the memory lane of television in Singapore.

Full Article: http://stcommunities.straitstimes.com/tv/2013/06/01/50-years-tv-singapore

SingTel to Invest $2.04 Billion

Telecommunications giant SingTel recently announced its intention to invest SG$2.04 billion in startup ventures following its dismal annual report, which was released in May.

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The report shows a year-over-year decline in total revenue of 2%, from 2012 to 2013. This was the first decline in revenue for the company in 14 years, and was largely due to the company’s divestment of its SG$230 million stake in Warid Pakistan.

The good news for SingTel is that its Mobile, Data and Internet revenues both grew by 4% while its Digital Business grew by an astonishing 156%, which was mainly due to the acquisition of mobile ad services firm Amobee Inc..  In light of this, the company plans to allocate most of its investments for “creating next-generation growth engines in the digital space“, as stated in a recent news release.

Last fiscal year, SingTel added 6,000 customers to its pay TV service Mio, while rival StarHub lost 4,200 subscribers.

If SingTel is to recover from this past fiscal year, it will need to focus its investments heavily on the digital market, repeating the kind of acquisitions like that of Amobee Inc.

See full article ZDNet.