Thai state-run telco TOT has launched a trial internet protocol television (IPTV) service in partnership with Malaysia’s Cubic Associates Group. The high-definition video trial will serve to test the capabilities of TOT’s existing fixed network, determining whether major upgrades are needed to adequately support advanced multi-play, multimedia services. Customers wishing to use the service must have a TOT DSL or direct fibre broadband line with a connection speed of at least 2Mbps and must buy a set-top box for THB5,555 (USD180), although there is no monthly fee for watching the TV channels and other content delivered by Cubic.
TOT’s chairman, Panthep Chamrasromran said that the third-party IPTV service was intended to create a new revenue stream to offset falling fixed line revenue, although he added that the PSTN operator had not finalised plans yet for its own full commercial service. TOT, which reportedly expects to sell ‘30,000 to 35,000 set-top boxes a month’, has had several false starts in the IPTV segment, with previous failed attempts to establish a commercial interactive IPTV service caused by ‘poor business cooperation, unreliable service and bad content,’ Mr Panthep conceded. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in September 2011 TOT publicised a forthcoming advanced digital triple-play service, to be expanded from an existing pilot phase over its direct fibre network, but this project appears to be suspended, whilst TOT’s joint venture with mobile operator AIS, Advanced Datanetwork Communications (ADC), launched IPTV services over ADSL in 2006, but with lukewarm commercial results.
According to a report by the Bangkok Post, Cubic will pay TOT rental fees for using its network and TOT will also receive a slice of pay-per-view revenue. Supersak na Nakhonphanom, CEO of Cubic Associates Group (Thailand), said that a commercial launch of IPTV with video-on-demand including movies is set for April. Mr Supersak added that Cubic will open its IPTV channel packages to other private broadband providers in April if TOT chooses not to sign an exclusive agreement with the company.