Friday, October 21, 2011

Digital cable TV coming

Newcomer Nilamas Corp Sdn Bhd has secured all the requisite licences from the Government to offer digital cable TV in the country and it is targeting the launch of its offering in the second quarter of 2012.

Nilamas will compete in the pay-TV space, which has Astro All Asia Networks plc's (Astro) and several IPTV providers includingTelekom Malaysia Bhd (TM).

The set up cost for the cable network offering is expected to be more than RM2bil over a five-year period and Nilamas, according to sources is looking at a 40:60 equity-debt combination to fund its venture.

Mohd Anwar is one of the directors of Nilamas. He is formerly the armed forces chief of the country.

It is not clear how much the company has secured thus far, however, it has invested in a building in Puchong which will house its broadcasting centre.

According to Nilamas' website, its directors are Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor, Tan Sri Mohamad Noor Abdul Rahim and Datuk Nik Mohd Amin. They are also shareholders of the business.

Sources said Nilamas planned to offer entertainment and educational programmes with an interactive focus.

Sources added that a “branding launch” is slated sometime next month.

Nilamas secured the requisite licences to offer subscription broadcasting in the country from the industry regulator, Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission on Aug 11 and with this licence, it is allowed to offer broadcasting services for a fee.

The company also has network facilities licences that will allow it to build up a network and also a network service provider licence. The licences are valid for five years.

Over the past two months the company has been hiring people.

It had advertised for several top positions including that of chief operating officer, chief technology officer, chief content officer, chief financial officer, head of communications, head of strategy and head of marketing.

Sources said the company has already hired about 20 people and is looking to have a workforce of around 200 people in three months. It aims to have a workforce of 800 by the time its services are launched.

Sources also said the company was in talks with numerous content providers but added that it might find it difficult to secure content already sold to competitors such as Astro and TM.

However an industry expert said: “There is plenty of content out there for the taking, it is up to the company to decide what it wants to offer and that would depend on the segment of the market it is targeting.”

As for its network, sources said Nilamas would use fibre for its backhaul which will be leased from fibre operators such as TM, Time dotCom Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Fiberail and Fibercom.

Nilamas may also consider rolling out is own last mile fibre cables to reach homes, considering that most of the last mile connections in the country still use copper, which doesn't carry as much bandwidth as fibre optic cables.

“This will give rise to a lot of jobs for contractors that are involved in the laying of fibre. They could lay fibre in the ground or use existing electricity poles to pull the fibre to homes,” said a source familiar with Nilamas' plans.

It is unclear if customers would need to pay for the set top box for this service or whether that would be absorbed by the company.


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