Hong Kong communications company PCCW and News Corporation pay-TV subsidiary Star are to explore joint opportunities in providing pay television over internet protocol networks in new markets across Asia. PCCW is also rolling out a mobile television network.

With more than half a million subscribers, representing over a quarter of the homes in Hong Kong, the PCCW Now broadband television service has provided a world-leading example of IPTV since its launch in August 2003. It carries over 110 audio and video channels, including those provided by Star and its joint ventures.

“PCCW has a wealth of experience in quickly implementing and operating a successful IPTV pay-TV business,” said Alex Arena of PCCW. “Telecom and broadband companies from around the world visit us regularly, to explore how PCCW can share its experience with them. We are delighted to work together with Star to develop these opportunities.”

Star is a leading media and entertainment company in Asia, distributing over 50 channels in nine languages to over 300 million viewers on a variety of platforms in Asia and beyond. It controls over 20,000 hours of Indian and Chinese programming and also owns the largest contemporary Chinese film library in the world, with over 600 titles featuring stars such as Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.

“We are excited to expand our working relationship with Now TV, a tremendous partner of ours in Hong Kong, to explore opportunities across Asia,” said Michelle Guthrie, the chief executive of Star. “It is clear that IPTV will be an exciting distribution platform in the future.”

The cooperation between PCCW and Star is in addition to technical services provided by Cascade, a wholly owned subsidiary of PCCW which has built and installed end-to-end IPTV solutions in several other countries and is involved in discussions with a number of other operators.

The Cascade QualiTVision solution was recognised with an InfoVision award at the Broadband World Forum Asia held in Hong Kong.

Mobile services
Also demonstrated at the conference was a mobile television service from PCCW, delivered over its 3G network using Cell Multimedia Broadcast technology developed by Huawei Technologies.

The service is being progressively rolled out throughout Hong Kong, including in the MTR underground railway system. It will soon be available to all 110,000 users on PCCW mobile’s 3G trial.

“This is a significant innovation by PCCW, allowing us to leverage our extensive content line-up to more people, across more of our platforms, fixed and mobile,” declared PCCW’s Alex Arena. “We are excited to bring this groundbreaking 3G technology to our customers–another world first for us.”