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Opening Remarks by IDA Deputy Chief Executive / Director-General (Telecoms & Post) at the Forum on IPTV Standards

9 February 2010 - Opening Remarks by Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive / Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at the Forum on IPTV Standards, Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre

Opening Remarks by Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive / Director-General (Telecoms & Post), Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore at the Forum on IPTV Standards organised by IDA and MDA, Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, 9 February 2010

1. Good morning distinguished guests, speakers and delegates. Welcome to this Forum on IPTV standards jointly organised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the Media Development Authority of Singapore. I also want to thank the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity and the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan for their support in this Forum. We are glad to have a diverse set of participants: standards bodies, IPTV operators, content providers, application platform and middleware providers and equipment manufacturers from across the IPTV value chain. We are also privileged to have with us here fellow broadcasting and telecommunication regulators from across the Asia-Pacific region.

2. IPTV deployment and adoption is picking up pace globally. IPTV services were first launched by some operators six years ago in places like France (France Telecom), USA (Verizon) and Hongkong (PCCW). Now, many providers around the globe offer IPTV services, with the number of subscribers worldwide reaching 24 million, according to a 2009 Frost and Sullivan study1. Of these 24 million, Asia Pacific has 27% of the market. With strong projections of subscriber growth - expected to hit 81million by 2013, and Asia forecasted to represent 34% of that base2, IPTV is undoubtedly a fast emerging area that deserves the attention of all of us here who are government representatives, industry regulators, industry players, consumer equipment manufacturers, or standard bodies’ representatives.

3. IPTV services are increasingly sophisticated, offering consumers a richer, more interactive entertainment experience. For example, in Hong Kong, PCCW NOW TV users can engage in securities trading, order food, or call up real-time information about their favourite football team when watching a match all in the comfort of their own living rooms through the TV set. In France, subscribers of Free can see real time viewership statistics of the different channels and can put their own content on a portal for other subscribers to view and rate from their TV sets.

4. TV viewing is increasingly morphing from being a traditional one way distribution of video into a multiple-way interactive entertainment-communication experience. Consumers are increasingly demanding greater control over and personalisation of the content they watch, expecting to be able to interact with their video experiences by, for example, influencing outcomes by instantly voting with their remote control, or purchasing that trendy piece of garment donned by the lead actor in the movie on the spot.

5. These changing consumer preferences are largely fuelled by the rapid rise of online video services such as Hulu and in the US, and the BBC iPlayer in the UK which offer consumers a more personalised and interactive entertainment experience. Whilst online videos are predominantly consumed via a PC at the moment, the fact remains that most consumers prefer to watch long-form videos on the TV. Hulu and the BBC’s iPlayer service differ from traditional broadcasting services in that their video content are delivered to their end users via the public internet - or what is commonly known as the 'unmanaged network model'.

6. The trend towards delivery of video content via the internet has not gone unnoticed: just last December the BBC Trust has granted provisional approval to Project Canvas, a proposed partnership between the BBC, ITV, C4, Five, BT and Talk Talk to build an open internet-connected TV platform. If carried to fruition, Project Canvas aims to develop a common technical standard for internet-connected TV devices so that end-users can access third party services seamlessly through any 'Canvas compliant' consumer device. The US's FCC has also recently launched a public consultation on 'Video Device Innovation', noting that Internet video has become tremendously popular with American consumers and that many subscription video services, including traditional cable companies and telecom companies use or plan to use the internet to deliver video content to their subscribers. Noting also the increased convergence of TV and content delivery by the internet, the FCC is keen to undertake an active role in formulating a solution that will spur the development of a retail market for nationally portable video devices that will work across all delivery platforms.

7. So, what about Singapore? As you may be aware, deployment of Singapore's Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network, which is our fully fibre-to-the-home infrastructure is under way. We expect to cover 60 per cent of homes and offices by 2010 and achieve nation-wide coverage by 2012.

8. With a Next Generation broadband infrastructure in place in the very near future, it is expected that interactive IPTV deployment will be a key application. Operators that have launched IPTV in areas with high speed FTTx networks have experienced strong subscriber growth3. Singapore-based Application Service Providers, content providers and software developers can leverage this high speed network to offer novel and more sophisticated applications for a richer, more engaged consumer experience.

9. As this new breed of TV applications and services which offer higher levels of interactivity and capabilities gain popularity, they present an opportunity for new business models to be developed in the IPTV market. Such new business models include targeted and contextualised advertisements, infomediary service and e-procurement applications over interactive IPTV. These new business models enabled by interactivity would be an important driver to support industry players to provide innovative products and services to consumers, and to reach out to the non-Pay TV subscribers.

10.  As the ecosystem required to support the development of these new business models is still in a nascent stage of development, there is a role for government to play to nurture the IPTV market in Singapore. Therefore, it is timely that IDA and MDA have jointly launched Project Next Generation Interactive Multimedia Applications and Services, or Project NIMS, which aims to open up new market opportunities and enable innovative business models, ultimately bringing about an enhanced digital entertainment experience for consumers both local and regional.

11. As with most emerging areas, the search for standards is an active, ongoing process. Standards for IPTV are in the early stages of development and are still evolving. This Forum provides a good platform for all of us to understand the standards development landscape globally, so as to better align our individual standardisation efforts. The diverse profile of the participants here today offer us an excellent opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of standardisation efforts of international standards bodies and also the varied deployment experience of IPTV operators all around the world.

12.  I believe this would be an insightful forum with lots of opportunities to learn from and network with each another. Thank you once again for being here and I wish you a fruitful and enjoyable Forum.


1 'Interactive IPTV: Economic Impact Study', by Frost and Sullivan 2009

2 'IPTV Global Forecast', by Multimedia Research Group 2009

3 See note 1