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Hong Kong Broadband Network launches pay-TV service

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HONG KONG: Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) has launched a new pay-TV service. The endeavour is aimed at realising the "triple-play" strategy, thus bringing a significant breakthrough in the local telecommunications industry.

HKBN has stated that having an advanced and reliable network platform is one of the competitive edges it possesses. An official release informs that currently, HKBN provides broadband Internet access and local telephony services on its self-constructed network.

The pay-TV service of HKBN now delivers 11 TV channels. Of them, Chinese language channels - including a 24X7 news channel, movies, religious, Chinese opera and BBC - dominates.

According to the viewership report of a local pay-TV operator, news channel ran up to be the most welcomed channel, counting for approximately half of the viewership, followed by movie channel with a 30 per cent viewership.

Indeed, HKBN has taken aim at the preference of the audience by launching a 24-hour news channel and a movie channel. They will target not just on the niche market, but also the needs for the massive market.

HKBN has used advanced technology to add new elements to the service. The release adds that differing from traditional pay-TV service, the new service allows customers to enjoy a variety by offering 11 interactive application channels.

These include weather reports, real-time text news, stock quote and finance news, shopping, TV games, sending and receiving e-mails and SMS, useful telephone numbers and accessing information of accounts.

Crucial to HKBN's strategy is the launch of a unique public channel "See You On TV Tonight!". This allows customers to lodge their videos on the company's TV platform. A variety of videos can be placed, including (but not limited) to product/service advertising, product description, personal selling and family videos .

Another unique feature of HKBN's pay-TV service is that it is connection-enabled to a personal computer or a TV with the aid of set-top box. In addition, the visual quality, which is transmitted by MPEG-2 4.5M to 10M, is comparable to DVD visuals.

Even if customers do not have a personal computer, simple web applications can be applied with the complimentary set-top box upon registration of HKBN's pay-TV service.

In fact, the functionality of the set-top box is somewhat similar to a computer, as it possesses an IBM 252MHz PowerPC Chip Set, 32MB SDRAM and 128KB ROM, supporting Linux, JavaScript, Flash and Internet browser, and possessing interface to 10/100BaseT Ethernet, the release states.

At the early stage of service launch, HKBN will commence the service from Kwai Tsing districts. However, it targets to extend to 300,000 to 500,000 households, including Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung, Tsing Yi and most areas in New Territories.

Regarding channel contents, HKBN will continue to strike for diversification to fully utilise network capacity.

HKBN chairman Ricky Wong said, " The competition of pay-TV business determines by three major factors: contents, tariff and applications. The existing penetration rate in Hong Kong is approximately 30 per cent, which is relatively low compared to other Asian districts like Taiwan, which is around 90 per cent. Therefore, we believe the market potential can be substantial and able to cater for more new operators."

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