TT&T, Thailand’s largest provincial fixed line telecoms provider, yesterday launched a two-month free trial of an online television service in a move to pave the way for a new IPTV service to be launched in 2007. TT&T’s online TV website – www.maxnettv.net – features broadcasts from channels 5, 7, 9, 11, iTV and the Nation Channel, as well as a fashion show from paid-for UBC and video-on-demand from provincial cable providers RS Promotion and Traffic Corner. The telco said the TV site was different from a similar service provided by its rival True Corp because it offered more content thanks to a collaboration with provincial cable TV providers. Supot Tiarawut, TT&T senior vice-president for corporate strategy and planning, said the website is expected to help raise TT&T’s broadband customer base to 200,000 by the end of this year, up from its current 130,000 subscribers.
TT&T’s broadband rivals True and ADC, a joint venture between cellco AIS and state-run telco TOT Corp, this week forecast that Thailand’s IPTV market will be worth at least THB2 billion (USD520 million) by 2008. True and ADC are already providing IPTV services to customers in Bangkok to test the level of demand, whilst TT&T says its rollout will reach most regions of the country by the end of next year, via its new subsidiary Triple T Broadband, which holds a full licence for nationwide broadband and telephony services, including the capital. Paisit Vatjanapagorn, True’s general manager for broadband broadcast and multimedia, said True would need only three months to bring its IPTV services up to a mass-market commercial scale. ‘We expect to have at least 300,000 IPTV subscribers by the end of 2007, targeting university students and working people in the upper market,’ he said. Broadband-delivered content could challenge the current offerings of pay-TV providers, including the domestic market leader United Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), which is a subsidiary of True. However, some executives in the industry remain uncertain as to whether customer response will match the telcos’ expectations.