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First ever Asian WiMAX DTT hybrid TV falls to tiny Sezmi

We have to say we were mightily impressed with the deal cut this week by US video upstart start up, Sezmi and the Malaysian power utility YTL to intro

By PETER WHITE

Published: 14 October, 2010

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We have to say we were mightily impressed with the deal cut this week by US video upstart start up, Sezmi and the Malaysian power utility YTL to introduce a hybrid pay TV service as part of a WiMAX based quadruple play, initially in Malaysia then spreading across local territories. The network spend is already cited as $1.5 billion, much of it is already built and the network will be live with two way data and voice over WiMAX this year, and video early next.

YTL in Malaysia owns power companies across the region, has built high speed rail links and is involved in everything from cement manufacturing to major building projects to technology incubators and ISPs and is one of the biggest conglomerates and public companies in the region.

It’s especially interesting as the 27 million population of Malaysia has Indonesia as one of its nearest neighbor, which is the fourth most populous country in the world with over 240 million people. YTL has links there and it could be one of its next targets.

This part of the world, along with India and China, parts of Eastern Europe, all of Africa and much of South America, has little cabling in the ground and is a breeding ground for these types of wireless only hybrid TV models, which is why these are the areas which already tend to be trying out advanced WiMAX networks. If it works in one, it might take off in another with the consequence being that the ideas begin to take off closer to home. Right now satellite DTH TV is skyrocketing in India and South America, because it is the easiest way to create a continent wide overnight TV footprint, but similarly these are the countries where cellular has also rapidly taken off – for instance India has only 35 million fixed lines in the entire country, but some 652 million cellular phones. So this approach, perhaps with a hint of DTH, and over the top VoD, might also work there.

Sezmi says that it is running the show pretty much on all of the installation of the new broadcast part of the network, building out the NOC, helping to plan TV channel delivery across a new, purpose built DVB-T2 multiplex and across the WiMAX network, using unicast delivery at first and multicast later, if it is needed.

While Sezmi insists that global pay TV was always on its mind, it started life creating a $5 a month pay TV service in the US, which even now only reaches 35 US TV markets and is only at full service implementation in California. Even that was a hybrid, using spare over the air ATSC broadcasting capacity for scheduled TV delivery and an internet connection for VoD programming.

The publicity machine got working and Sezmi’s story got told and then the phone rang and it was YTL calling from Malaysia saying “You’re doing exactly what we’d like to do, can you help.”

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