Singapore to Launch Nationwide 3D TV Trial across 4 Platforms

Singapore will launch a nationwide 3D television trial this year. It will involve the major broadcasters and telcos, and will be conducted across at least four platforms. This was revealed by the Media Development Authority (MDA) at a television trade market in Cannes, France.

Singapore plans to start the nationwide 3D TV trial, possibly in August, when the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) begins. MDA's Chief Information Officer Yeo Chun Cheng told Channel NewsAsia on the sidelines of the MIPTV conference that the Games presents a good opportunity for broadcasters to show sporting events in 3D. However, Mr Yeo said this will still need to depend on broadcasting rights issued by the International Olympic Committee for the event.

The MDA is considering several dates to launch the 3D trial, which will last between one and six months. Mr Yeo said that it will certainly be before the Next General National Broadband Network fully rolls out by 2012. When it starts, Singapore will be the first country in the world to carry out a 3D trial at a nationwide level. Singapore plans to conduct the trial on free-to-air television, cable, IPTV, as well as online. In future, it may also include 3D content on mobile phones.

Currently, Mr Yeo said it will leave the decision on how many households can take part in the trial to the broadcasters and telcos, which will also decide on what 3D programmes to carry. The MDA is already commissioning 3D programmes. Ideas being considered include "live" sporting events, movies and documentaries. Mr Yeo said the main cost involved in the trial would be in producing 3D content for TV. However, he stressed that the MDA always has funds for producing quality content.

The question is, how viable is 3D? So far only two broadcasters worldwide are fully on High Definition (HD), which is considered the technological predecessor of 3D. However, observers Channel NewAsia spoke to are confident that 3D is the future. Mr Yeo said that eventually, delivery of content will be through a common set top box, capable of carrying both HD and 3D content.

By Gladys Ow, Channel NewAsia