There’s now a way to watch the latest American TV drama serials like Glee cheaply and easily, by signing up for a fibre broadband service that lets users Singapore log on to video-on-demand services like Hulu and Netflix that are 0nly offered in the United States.
Internet service provider ViewQwest is offering its broadband services with a low-cost VPN (virtual private networking) option that enables Singapore users to easily connect to these United States-based services.
A basic 100Mbps service costs S$65 a month, and S$10 more gives users easy VPN access to US sites. This means they can log on to US websites and services as if they are US users, circumventing the geographical limits that content owners often place on TV programmes.
To make things even easier, ViewQwest is bundling a free WDLive media player box, which can connect a regular TV set to video streaming services.
Users still have to separately subscribe to the US video services. Netflix and Hulu cost about US$7.99 a month each but they let users view hundreds of movies and drama serials on their PCs, tablets or TVs (via a compatible Blu-ray player or set-top box) at a cost usually lower than what pay-TV operators charge.
While savvy Singapore users have been signing up for VPN services that give them access to US-only services, this is the first time an Internet service provider here is offering the feature as part of an aggressive broadband package, and making the connection easy for non-techie users. This directly rivals the traditional pay-TV services offered by SingTel and StarHub.
Indeed, the new offering from ViewQwest is a reflection of the changing TV viewing habits, which now prefer on-demand services instead of scheduled programming. It is also a sign of the increasingly varied fibre broadband options available in Singapore, thanks to the competition in recent months.
Another small Internet player in Singapore, MyRepublic, has opted to concentrate on low-latency connections to game servers to entice gamers, while the Big Three of SingTel, StarHub and M1 have been engaging in a low-cost battle by dropping prices of the benchmark 100Mbps fibre service to below S$50 a month.
ViewQwest CEO Vignesa Moorthy told reporters today he is confident that discerning broadband users will take to his company’s new service, but is quick to point out that it would not replace traditional TV programmes which are part and parcel of what SingTel and StarHub offer as part of their pay-TV packages – at least for now.
He is also careful in responding to possible moves by content owners in the US to prevent such “market disrupting” services, which essentially break up their lucrative distribution channels through traditional pay-TV operators.
However, for users who have wanted to watch their TV on-demand, this is a cheap and easy way to go about it. And for those who have always wanted more variety in the broadband market, this is indeed a new and innovative offering to look out for.