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Old 30-05-2012, 05:13 PM   #1
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To Regulate or To Mandate? Lessons Learnt.

Remember the time when the Government was touting a 'universal' TV set-top box that could deliver e-government services and the programmes of every pay-TV operator to your home?

The Government mooted the idea in 2009, and went through several rounds of consulting industry players. Yesterday, it broke months of silence on the subject and said the project has been shelved. But the news did not come as a surprise. Folks in the infocomm industry had long speculated that a standardised set-top box would be redundant when the Media Development Authority's cross-carriage rule kicked in last August.

The cross-carriage rule compels the major pay-TV providers - SingTel and StarHub - to share their exclusive programming signed from March 2010. Besides paving the way for cheaper prices, the change also means consumers no longer need to install two set-top boxes to watch the exclusive programmes of both SingTel and StarHub.

If cluttering one's home with multiple set-top boxes is a problem, then the problem is solved with the cross-carriage rule. And the universal set-top box project - dubbed Next-Generation Interactive Multimedia, Applications and Services (Nims) - would cease to matter. But Nims also had other goals - so many, they proved impossible to fulfil.

So did the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) bite off more than it could chew with this - as with other 'universal' hardware initiatives it champions? These include a national security token for online banking and a national system that accepts payment using the cellphone.

To the IDA's credit, Nims was created with consumers in mind. For one thing, the Government had planned to engage citizens over television through the national set-top box. The box would be connected to Singapore's ultra-fast fibre broadband network, slated to cover 95 per cent of all homes and offices by mid-year. The IDA envisioned households voting for amenities to be built in their neighbourhood or getting dengue outbreak alerts over television.

Also, a standardised set-top box would lower the barriers to entry for pay-TV newcomers, potentially opening up the market to more competition and new services, like video-conferencing. It is arguable whether the small base in Singapore can support more than two pay-TV service providers. StarHub has the lion's share of the market with 544,000 subscribers, while SingTel has 368,000 pay-TV customers.

A third player may result in StarHub or SingTel losing business to another rival - especially without a proprietary set-top box to 'lock in' customers. Understandably, both operators did not rush to embrace Nims. They had sunk too much into their existing legacy systems to want to start over.

There were also concerns that the whole of Singapore would be held ransom by one set-top box supplier if Nims were to proceed. What if its system failed? Current unhappiness with OpenNet over delays in connecting subscribers to Singapore's fibre broadband network is a reminder that firms in monopolistic positions may not always respond in the customer's interest.

But the biggest obstacle yet to Nims was coming up with a common set of software and hardware standards. No country in the world - except Japan - has done so and there were no success stories to emulate. If there is a lesson to be learnt, it is this: Sometimes it is better to let market forces decide the fate of technology. The lesson is evident in the IDA's universal token initiative for securing e-transactions.

The national token, dubbed OneKey, was launched late last year with the aim of supplanting the clutter of tokens issued by individual banks.

To date, none of the major banks - DBS Bank, United Overseas Bank, OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank - has signed up to use it. Instead, they have decided to stick to their in-house technology, citing security and other commercial concerns.

The same lesson can be applied to the national e-payment system involving cellphones. For years, Singapore has tried to launch an islandwide mobile payment system, with no success. The IDA first promoted the use of cellphones to pay carpark charges in 2003, but the service failed to take off partly because it was too cumbersome. Users had to get a personal identification number from their bank, an SMS code, or call a certain telephone number for transactions to be approved.

In 2007, there were trials on the use cellphones to pay for transit rides and food. But these services again failed to gain mass appeal because users on one banking payment platform could not transact with merchants on another. In its latest effort, the IDA late last year appointed a consortium led by French smartcard chipmaker Gemalto to build a national platform that would allow people to pay with their cellphones regardless of which bank or telco they are with. The system was slated to launch by mid-year.

It is hard to fault the IDA's universal hardware ideas - in theory. But there are always incumbency and legacy issues in a developed market. A common set-top box or e-token might have worked better in a less mature market such as Vietnam, where players are just starting up, and have less resistance to a common platform.

But even then, one can argue that imposing a universal approach on a nascent market, say, mobile payment stifles competition and innovation.

To be sure, Singapore is not unused to blazing a new trail, so the fact that others have not adopted a universal platform does not mean the Republic should hold back on its technological quests. Failures as well as trial and error are part of the process of technological learning. But when an initiative fails, it is important for the regulator to draw the right lessons from the commercial marketplace and not hold on to theories of what should work.
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Old 30-05-2012, 05:20 PM   #2
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you know what?

you buy a FULL HD TV and so far only one local free on the air channel have some HD programs is channel 5

and in order to view HD ~

You have to use in door antenna to get it ~
BUT , you will have poor reception on other free to air channels~

connect to Starhub tv point ~
You can't get HD channel from ch 5 ~

how irony right?
in order to view local FREE TO AIR HD program from ch 5 you have to subscribe either starhub or miotv to see ~
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Old 30-05-2012, 05:24 PM   #3
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Remember the time when the Government was touting a 'universal' TV set-top box that could deliver e-government services and the programmes of every pay-TV operator to your home?

The Government mooted the idea in 2009, and went through several rounds of consulting industry players. Yesterday, it broke months of silence on the subject and said the project has been shelved. But the news did not come as a surprise. Folks in the infocomm industry had long speculated that a standardised set-top box would be redundant when the Media Development Authority's cross-carriage rule kicked in last August.

The cross-carriage rule compels the major pay-TV providers - SingTel and StarHub - to share their exclusive programming signed from March 2010. Besides paving the way for cheaper prices, the change also means consumers no longer need to install two set-top boxes to watch the exclusive programmes of both SingTel and StarHub.

If cluttering one's home with multiple set-top boxes is a problem, then the problem is solved with the cross-carriage rule. And the universal set-top box project - dubbed Next-Generation Interactive Multimedia, Applications and Services (Nims) - would cease to matter. But Nims also had other goals - so many, they proved impossible to fulfil.

So did the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) bite off more than it could chew with this - as with other 'universal' hardware initiatives it champions? These include a national security token for online banking and a national system that accepts payment using the cellphone.

To the IDA's credit, Nims was created with consumers in mind. For one thing, the Government had planned to engage citizens over television through the national set-top box. The box would be connected to Singapore's ultra-fast fibre broadband network, slated to cover 95 per cent of all homes and offices by mid-year. The IDA envisioned households voting for amenities to be built in their neighbourhood or getting dengue outbreak alerts over television.

Also, a standardised set-top box would lower the barriers to entry for pay-TV newcomers, potentially opening up the market to more competition and new services, like video-conferencing. It is arguable whether the small base in Singapore can support more than two pay-TV service providers. StarHub has the lion's share of the market with 544,000 subscribers, while SingTel has 368,000 pay-TV customers.

A third player may result in StarHub or SingTel losing business to another rival - especially without a proprietary set-top box to 'lock in' customers. Understandably, both operators did not rush to embrace Nims. They had sunk too much into their existing legacy systems to want to start over.

There were also concerns that the whole of Singapore would be held ransom by one set-top box supplier if Nims were to proceed. What if its system failed? Current unhappiness with OpenNet over delays in connecting subscribers to Singapore's fibre broadband network is a reminder that firms in monopolistic positions may not always respond in the customer's interest.

But the biggest obstacle yet to Nims was coming up with a common set of software and hardware standards. No country in the world - except Japan - has done so and there were no success stories to emulate. If there is a lesson to be learnt, it is this: Sometimes it is better to let market forces decide the fate of technology. The lesson is evident in the IDA's universal token initiative for securing e-transactions.

The national token, dubbed OneKey, was launched late last year with the aim of supplanting the clutter of tokens issued by individual banks.

To date, none of the major banks - DBS Bank, United Overseas Bank, OCBC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank - has signed up to use it. Instead, they have decided to stick to their in-house technology, citing security and other commercial concerns.

The same lesson can be applied to the national e-payment system involving cellphones. For years, Singapore has tried to launch an islandwide mobile payment system, with no success. The IDA first promoted the use of cellphones to pay carpark charges in 2003, but the service failed to take off partly because it was too cumbersome. Users had to get a personal identification number from their bank, an SMS code, or call a certain telephone number for transactions to be approved.

In 2007, there were trials on the use cellphones to pay for transit rides and food. But these services again failed to gain mass appeal because users on one banking payment platform could not transact with merchants on another. In its latest effort, the IDA late last year appointed a consortium led by French smartcard chipmaker Gemalto to build a national platform that would allow people to pay with their cellphones regardless of which bank or telco they are with. The system was slated to launch by mid-year.

It is hard to fault the IDA's universal hardware ideas - in theory. But there are always incumbency and legacy issues in a developed market. A common set-top box or e-token might have worked better in a less mature market such as Vietnam, where players are just starting up, and have less resistance to a common platform.

But even then, one can argue that imposing a universal approach on a nascent market, say, mobile payment stifles competition and innovation.

To be sure, Singapore is not unused to blazing a new trail, so the fact that others have not adopted a universal platform does not mean the Republic should hold back on its technological quests. Failures as well as trial and error are part of the process of technological learning. But when an initiative fails, it is important for the regulator to draw the right lessons from the commercial marketplace and not hold on to theories of what should work.
No offense, but your post looks like a written article? I just can't find it. But if its 100% original, you are pretty much a journalist material
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Old 30-05-2012, 05:30 PM   #4
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Old 30-05-2012, 05:41 PM   #5
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No offense, but your post looks like a written article? I just can't find it. But if its 100% original, you are pretty much a journalist material
Nope, it's a repost from Straits Times.
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Old 31-05-2012, 01:24 PM   #6
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you know what?

you buy a FULL HD TV and so far only one local free on the air channel have some HD programs is channel 5

and in order to view HD ~

You have to use in door antenna to get it ~
BUT , you will have poor reception on other free to air channels~

connect to Starhub tv point ~
You can't get HD channel from ch 5 ~

how irony right?
in order to view local FREE TO AIR HD program from ch 5 you have to subscribe either starhub or miotv to see ~
Legistratively, the need to carry FTA was worded before HD come along. Given a higher operating cost to broadcast in HD, no infrastructure operator will carry it for free.
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