IDA wants open-access video delivery

John C. Tanner
CommunicAsia Show Daily

The next stage of Singapore’s NBN project will include the development of an open-access video delivery platform that could cement the end of exclusive content deals in the city-state.

Philip Heah, senior director for next-generation infrastructure at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), said the regulator wants to further bolster interactive multimedia services on the NBN via an open video delivery platform accessible by a standardized set-top box platform.

“We hope to have a common set-top box platform that would allow consumers to watch and purchase video content from multiple RSPs [retail service providers],” Heah said at the Next Generation Broadband track of the CommunicAsia2011 Summit Tuesday.

An open-access video delivery platform could conceivably deal another blow to the practice of exclusive-rights deals for pay-TV content in Singapore. The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) plans to implement cross-carriage rules later this month that would allow consumers to access exclusive pay-TV content via another RSP’s infrastructure. The regulations have been vigorously opposed by pay-TV industry group CASBAA.

SingTel CEO Allen Lew said during a panel discussion that an open-access STB for the NBN wouldn’t cause additional concerns for cross-carriage opponents. “This is only for the fiber network, and it only allows users to access the RSP they want, not the content directly,” he said. “That should remove any consternation CASBAA has for cross-carriage.”

Moya Dodd, Partner at Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers, said open-access would make “an interesting case study” on the impact of exclusive content deals and cross-carriage.

“When you see the proliferation of platforms and devices and how people access content in so many different ways, the appeal of exclusivity fades away because it’s harder to justify,” she said. “Content providers want more distribution.”

Meanwhile, Heah of the IDA also said it plans to focus on home networking in the next stage of the NBN project, noting that the

IDA has been receiving many queries from consumers asking how to network devices in their homes.

The regulator plans to start a home networking initiative that will look at things like the number of internet ports in residences, he said. “Back in 2008, we have already made it a requirement for all new buildings to have at least one network point in the house.  But that may not be sufficient and we are exploring to increase the number of points,” said Heah.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article reported that the IDA was looking at requiring new buildings to have at least one internet points in the living room. In fact, that requirement has already been in place since 2008. The article has been corrected accordingly. Telecomasia.net welcomes all corrections and clarifications.

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