SHORTLY after making its market debut, SingTel's new key to product diversification is set to receive a high-speed upgrade.
The operator will soon launch an updated version of its all-in-one 'mio' modem with a fibre-optic port to support ultra-fast broadband connections.
'Our new model of the mio box, available in the next quarter, will have a fibre connector to support 1Gbps (gigabit per second) access and FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) deployment,' a SingTel spokesman told BizIT.
The current version, which doubles up as a wireless router, is only compatible with SingTel's DSL or digital subscriber line broadband network. mio subscription packages now cap off at 25 Mbps (megabits per second) for Internet access, although the firm said the box can allow maximum access speeds of 100Mbps.
Typically, set-top boxes and modems from cable TV and Internet service providers are refreshed once every few years but SingTel's upgrade comes shortly after its launch last month. The company said it had intended to include fibre support during the launch but the model was not ready then.
Moreover, the company had repeatedly highlighted that its mio modem is intended to work with Singapore's new broadband highway and now it will deliver on the promise. Fibre technology uses light pulses to transmit data at blazing speeds and is widely viewed as the most viable option for Singapore to achieve its goal of providing gigabit Net access by 2012. For SingTel, the introduction of the mio box is seen as the linchpin that anchors its move towards so-called 'triple-play' residential offerings. Besides providing broadband access, the mio box allows SingTel to introduce a host of other Net-based services like telephony and Internet Protocol TV, or IPTV.
The telco has already been awarded a licence to offer nationwide IPTV services from the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA) and it looks set to challenge arch rival StarHub in its pay-TV sweet spot later this year.
To lay the foundation for expanding its consumer offerings, SingTel has also been trying to match its competitor in the race to deliver higher broadband speeds.
StarHub launched Singapore's fastest Internet access plan last December by upgrading its cable infrastructure, and SingTel is trying to do the same.
Residents at Leonie Hills Residences off River Valley Road are undergoing SingTel's FTTH trials, where fibre-optic cables are extended all the way to individual households to facilitate ultra high-speed Internet access.
In addition, the operator is also experimenting with Metro Ethernet technology as another way of boosting broadband speeds through a pilot at The Gardens condominium in Bishan.
This article first appeared in BT on February 12, 2007