So how relevant then are fibre offerings in Singapore?
"If you are living in an apartment block, then in many cases, the landlords do not want every individual apartment to have a satellite dish," said Burrell. "They want a communal dish that serves the whole building without signals into every apartment. That's what we call multi-dwellings unit (MDU)."
"And in the past, both the distribution systems were built using coaxial cables. After we bought out in 2010, our new fibre optics-based distribution systems offer a number of significant advantages including much thinner cables - which are easier to install, lower cost installations; and in terms of distance - lots of apartment blocks can be served from the same system despite being spread out over a number of kilometres. You cannot do all that with coax," explained Burrell.
That said, all of the earthing requirements coax systems have are no longer required with fibre. Instead, the fibre ends up delivering all of the satellite content into each dwelling which coax systems cannot do.
The main idea here is that satellite allows the users to broadcast TV signals to a whole geographic region with no major infrastructure on the ground, said Burrell. "You just need a dish and some receiving equipment in each place where you want to receive the signals - no fibre or coax cables are required," he added.
Nonetheless, Burrell maintains that despite the growth of Internet over-the-top (OTT) services, standard linear broadcast TV viewing will remain to be the predominant way in which people watch TV and it is not predicted to decline. "While these OTT services and Internet may add or enhance, people are still going to consume an awful lot of linear broadcast TV, and obviously that is ways set distributed via satellite," he said.
Cost is a challenge
"We have seen a gradual adoption of these systems but one thing that would help that adoption to grow would be to reduce the price of the equipment," Burrell said.
This is where Global Invacom's latest offerings - the Romeo and Juliet (R&J) chipset - comes in. These chipsets can receive and distribute multiple satellite TV services in a single box. Its two-chip architecture efficiently combines components of Gateway Terminating Units (GTUs) and multiswitches, which enables quick and cost-effective conversion to High-Definition (HD) viewing. This ultimately reduces cost by at least 20 percent as compared to other existing fibre offerings.
"The R&J chipsets offer a significant reduction in the cost of the equipment, therefore reducing the cost of installation. In turn, this will help to increase fibre penetration in the market," Burrell said.
The other significant thing that these chips do is that they allow other manufacturers to make their own product. To date, Global Invacom is the only one in the market that is offering fibre products. But with the emergence of these chips, other selected design partners can design their own equipment, and that too should help grow fibre adoption within the market, he added.
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