TELCOs – AmFraser

END OF UNIVERSAL SETTOP BOX DREAM HURTS M1

The IDA (Infocomm Development Authority) and MDA (Media Development Authority) have decided to drop their search for a standardised box through which the country’s various entertainment providers could reach homes.

Dubbed Project Nims (next generation interactive multimedia applications and services), it was to have provided a nationwide platform for video and interactive digital services over the nextgen nationwide broadband network (NBN).

Delivering video over the new fibre network would have made it easier for smaller players to jump on and provide pay TV services. Home viewers could have accessed content without having to deal with multiple box providers.

The IDA started conceptualisation in 2009, and in September 2010 launched a requestforproposal to the industry, to select an operator for the Nims platform.

It received bids from the country’s three telcos, M1, SingTel and StarHub. Ten rounds of discussion with each provider, including technology demonstrations later, it appears the IDA and MDA have exhausted this avenue.

The agencies said: “None of the bids, as submitted, are likely to achieve the desired outcomes.”

BT understands that there were a number of issues preventing some of the proposals from scaling, including both technology and business constraints.

The box was originally slated to be launched commercially this year.

Each of the three bidders has its own pay TV service. Incumbent StarHub has the largest, at 544,000 cable subscribers. This is followed by SingTel’s IPTV mio service at 368,000, launched in 2007.

The newest entrant, M1, has its 1box service, launched end2010.

The service rides on M1’s broadband services carried to homes on cable and ADSL networks leased from StarHub and SingTel respectively, as well fibre connectivity on the newer NBN.

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