SingTel – BT

SingTel offers ‘music buffet’ to customers

Subscribers can download to heart’s content from array of 500,000 songs

Singapore Telecommunications is going all out to strike the right chord with customers.

The operator launched a new buffet-style music store yesterday with the Universal Music Group in an effort to swing subscriber votes and boost its flagging voice revenues.

‘In the past, it (the telco) used to be about carriage services – carrying voice and data from one point to another. SingTel decided two years ago that the telco of the future needs to be more than just bits and bytes,’ said SingTel chief executive Allen Lew.

Unlike previous offerings from Nokia and Sony Ericsson which are tied to specific phones, SingTel’s new Amped music service works across multiple handsets and is bundled free with three of its 3G subscription plans.

Beyond the usual talktime and mobile Internet bundles, these plans – which costs between $39 to $95 – offer subscribers the added benefit of being able to download to their hearts’ content from the firm’s new music portal.

Existing SingTel customers can opt for a separate $9.90 monthly mobile data add-on to receive the same perk. All other charges usually levied on over-the-air downloads are waived for this service.

The operator’s music repertoire is currently made up of nearly half-a-million songs from major Universal artistes such as the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and the Pussycat Dolls, as well as Asian stars Jacky Cheung and Eason Chen.

Consumers can feast on this musical buffet on both their computers and mobile phones but the majority of the downloaded tracks will expire at the end of their two-year SingTel contracts.

However, customers will be allowed to keep 15 ‘DRM (digital rights management)-free’ songs every month and these can be transferred to other phones or music players, according to SingTel’s consumer chief Yuen Kuan Moon.

SingTel Amped currently works with 12 handset models from Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics and Sony Ericsson but the compatibility list will be expanded to include the likes of HTC in the coming months, he added.

The operator may also get more labels to back the service in the near future, a move which market watchers feel is needed to guarantee its longer-term success.

‘Consumers today look for variety and choice. SingTel will need to get other music distributors and labels on board,’ said Foong King Yew, research director for carrier operations and strategies at technology analyst firm Gartner.

‘SingTel’s clearly trying to avoid the fate of a fat dumb pipe,’ added IDC Asia-Pacific research manager Aloysius Choong.

SingTel Amped is the third legitimate music service to make its Singapore debut this year, coming after Nokia Comes With Music in February and Sony Ericsson’s PlayNow Plus launch in April.

The Sony Ericsson service is also exclusive to SingTel and it is only offered alongside the purchase of the W705 Walkman handset. The Nokia offering, on the other hand, is extended to all three telcos and is bundled with seven phones.

A fourth local online music portal opened nearly a decade ago by Motorola unit Soundbuzz will be shut down next month, while Apple’s popular iTunes Music Store continues to be off-limits to Singaporeans.

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