StarHub to launch pay-TV service on fibre broadband network

A screen capture of StarHub’s guide for setting up a pay-TV service on fibre broadband. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE
A screen capture of StarHub’s guide for setting up a pay-TV service on fibre broadband. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE

Service will use national fibre broadband network instead of cable platform

StarHub is planning to officially launch a new pay-TV service for consumers that runs on the national fibre broadband network instead of its traditional cable platform.

The move could help the telco save costs in the future, said technology observers.

Called StarHub TV on Fibre, the service was launched for businesses, such as restaurants and pubs, in March last year. In response to queries from The Straits Times, the telco confirmed yesterday that it also had a soft launch of the pay-TV service to residential customers in the same month.

As part of its marketing efforts, StarHub uploaded a YouTube guide on how customers could set up the service in late January. The official launch date of TV on Fibre for consumers will be revealed later.

StarHub's head of entertainment and SmartLife Lin Shu Fen said the move will allow households with no cable access to enjoy StarHub's content over fibre. Currently, a "small percentage of customers" are on TV on Fibre, she said.

The system runs on the Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) technology - the same as the one rival SingTel uses for its mio TV pay-TV service.

A SingTel spokesman said, compared with cable, IPTV "is a more secure, flexible and innovative solution (for) delivering better content and customer interactivity".

IPTV is said to be more flexible than cable because it can support more services such as being able to view many screens on a TV panel at the same time. Still, Ms Lin said that cable is "established, reliable, ubiquitous and a tried-and-tested platform for offering pay-TV content".

Technology observers said it makes sense for StarHub to offer pay-TV on the national fibre broadband network already built across Singapore.

Convergent Systems director Michael Tan, whose company sells set-top box components, said: "Staying on cable TV will necessitate additional investment and upgrades to StarHub's ageing cable network, such as to upgrade Internet access speeds. This could cost StarHub a lot more than just going on fibre."

Media Partners Asia analyst Aravind Venugopal said fibre also has "clear technological advantages over cable, primarily when it comes to bandwidth".

StarHub's fibre services can hit speeds of up to 1Gbps, while cable services are up to 100Mbps.

Subscription rate for StarHub TV on Fibre is similar to that for cable TV, at $31 without GST. Most channels available on cable can be found on TV on Fibre, which grants access to over 200 channels.

Customers will need a StarHub fibre broadband plan to get the fibre pay-TV service.

kennyc@sph.com.sg

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