Tuesday October 12, 2010
YTL hybrid TV by end-2011, cost between RM1bil-RM2bil
By B.K. SIDHU
KUALA LUMPUR: YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YTL Comms) will roll out its wireless hybrid television service by the end of 2011, and it will cost the company substantial investments.
The company will also create local and regional content as part of its offering to users, said its executive chairman Tan Sri Francis Yeoh.
While he did not indicate the actual amount needed to roll out the new TV offering, sources said it could be in the range of RM1bil to RM2bil.
Yesterday, YTL Comms inked a licence and service agreement with US-based Sezmi Corporation to deploy hybrid TV in Malaysia and Asia Pacific.
Yeoh said the hybrid TV - comprising traditional TV, on-demand and Internet content - would be offered to users at “very competitive’’ prices, but declined to elaborate.
Yeoh is also the managing director of YTL Corp Bhd which has a stake in YTL Power, which in turn controls YTL Comms.
This confirms an Oct 8 StarBiz report on the tie-up between YTL Comms and Sezmi and the launch of the former’s WiMAX-based services on Nov 18.
Yeoh has confirmed that the nationwide launch of YTL Comms’ WiMAX-based services is slated for Nov 18.
At the launch date the service will cover 65% of the population and this will be extended to 80% by January.
YTL Comms is investing RM2.5bil for its WiMAX network and that amount does not include the RM1bil to RM2bil for the TV offering.
He is confident that Sezmi’s entry into Malaysia and the Asia Pacific region will disrupt the TV market as this is an offering that gives users the right to watch the programs they want at the time they prefer.
Globally viewers are opting for cheaper alternatives to cable and satellite TV channels. Whilst consumers wanted more choices, he said content providers also wanted to work with more service providers so that they could maximise on revenue and that the era of monopolies on content will slowly fade.
Sezmi has an arrangement with content providers such as CNBC, Warner Brothers, Disney, Fox, ESPN, The History Channel, Planet Green, CNN, Animal Planet, Bravo, Discovery, Nickelodeon, MSNBC, MTV, Lionsgate, Boomerang, Paramount, Sony, Cartoon Network and Universal.
YTL Comms is building a wireless network that is able to carry huge content at higher speed and the hybrid TV offering will be available on multiple devices such as mobile phones, personal computers and television screens by using set-top boxes.
Asked on the Internet speed, YTL Comms CEO Wing K. Lee said it would be three to five times faster than what was currently available in the market place.
Asked to comment if YTL Comms had taken a 20% stake in Sezmi, Yeoh said “we will announce details at the appropriate time.’’
Yesterday Sezmi announced that it had raised an additional US$17.3mil to fund its expansion and sources said part of the funding came from the stake sale to YTL Comms.
A report from the US said Sezmi had been rapidly expanding, as users in 36 markets throughout the United States could now purchase its hardware and use the service.
The company has also struck a deal with Amazon to sell its hardware online.
Sezmi’s most recent round of funding came less than a year after the start-up raised US$25mil.