SingTel – BT

SingTel steps up its game to make consumers see ‘light’

Telco to start video-game rental service using fibre-optic network

Besides watching Web-based TV, Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) plans to have consumers playing the latest Xbox and PlayStation titles too right out of its latest set-top box.

This quarter, Singapore’s largest operator will introduce a new video-game rental service in a bid to jumpstart ultra high-speed broadband adoption.

Instead of relying on physical discs, these games will actually be delivered to subscribers over the country’s latest fibre-optic Internet network.

Subscribers can browse and play games through their set-top boxes with a monthly subscription, much like how they access pay-TV services today.

While this concept is not new, the minting of Singapore’s new fibre-optic broadband superhighway gives companies such as SingTel the ability to go beyond offering the simple puzzle games of today to realistic, graphics-intensive shooters and racing titles that are usually confined to dedicated gaming consoles.

‘We’re talking about your Tour of Duty and FIFA 2011-type games,’ said Allen Lew, CEO of SingTel Singapore.

Fibre-optic technology relies on light-transmitting cables to deliver a massive increase in Internet speeds. Singapore’s new network, the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next-Gen NBN), became partly operational in September last year and is expected to be rolled out islandwide by end 2012.

The bandwidth boost gives SingTel the ability to sell gaming in the same way IT giants such as Google and Salesforce.com use cloud-computing technologies to market their products and services.

‘As long as they (customers) have a fibre connection, they can play these games,’ Mr Lew told BT in a recent interview. ‘We’ve talked about cloud services for businesses. Now this is a true cloud service for the consumer.’

The operator is currently one of five companies that are offering fibre-optic broadband access today.

Besides usual rivals StarHub and M1, two new contenders – SuperInternet and LGA Telecom – also threw their hats into the ring when the Next-Gen NBN opened for business earlier last year.

SingTel owns most of the broadband infrastructure that is used by consumers and businesses today. However, the arrival of a new network also brings with it a new government regime where the fibre-optic infrastructure is neutrally operated and available to all companies on the same terms and conditions.

With broadband access set to become the lowest common denominator, SingTel is turning to add-on services such as gaming to try and stand out from the crowd.

This comes on top of a recently launched video search engine that allows consumers to create their own TV channels by collating video clips from sites such as YouTube. SingTel’s soon-to-be-launched gaming foray will be offered through the same set-top box that is used for the video service.

Besides gaming, other consumer services that are set to make their debut in 2011 include a ‘business class’ mobile broadband service that gives subscribers priority access to its network, Mr Lew said.

There will also be more record label tie-ups for Amped, SingTel’s free music service, as well as more pay-television packages that bundle the Barclays Premier League with other ‘clearly differentiated’ content such as its Malay programmes, he revealed.

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