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Austar Communications
Type Public (ASXAUN)
Founded 1995
Headquarters Sydney, New South Wales
Gold Coast, Queensland
,
 Australia
Key people John Porter, CEO
Mike Fries, Chairman
Industry Subscription Television, Broadcasting, Telecommunications
Products AUSTAR Subscription Television
AUSTARnet
AUSTAR Mobile
Website austar.com.au

Austar is an Australian telecommunications company. Its main business activity is Subscription Television but it is also involved with internet access and mobile phones. It commenced operations in 1995.

AUSTAR's television subscriber base has grown to over 713,000 (at September 30, 2008), the largest subscription television operator in regional and rural Australia. AUSTAR provides, of subscription television services in a service area of approximately 2.4m homes, one-third of Australia's total homes, primarily using digital satellite technology. AUSTAR also operates a digital cable network in Darwin

It is owned by Austar United Communications Limited (ASXAUN). 54% of Austar United is owned by Liberty Global, through United Austar Partners. The remaining 46% is owned by public shareholders [1]

Austar also owns 50% of XYZnetworks, a pay television program provider, a 50-50 joint venture between Foxtel and Austar. [2][3]

Contents

Subscription television (Austar Television / Austar Digital)

Subscription Growth[4]
Year Subscribers
1998 300,000
2000 400,000
2004 443,000
2005 500,000+
2006 600,000+
2007 658,087
2008[5] 713,000

AUSTAR's main business is subscription television, serving customers outside of the major metro areas. It takes programming from both Foxtel and Optus services, and operates on a digital platform.

AUSTAR Television is available in 2.4 million homes in regional and rural areas of all mainland states (with the exception of Western Australia),Northern and Western Queensland -Gold Coast to Cairns, Tasmania and the capital cities of Darwin and Hobart. Subscriber numbers to Austar Television are second behind Foxtel. Delivery methods include utilising the Optus C-Class Satellite Optus C1 and a digital cable network in Darwin.

Austar's Television offering, as at September 2007 has 658,087[6] customers

MyStar PVR

The MyStar Personal Digital Recorder

Announced in November 2005, Thomson SA have been awarded the contract for the development of a 4 tuner PVR, two of which will be dedicated for Australia's Digital Terrestrial free-to-air (FTA) service. MyStar will also allow for recording of two shows at one time, while still being able to watch one pre-recorded. The FTA tuner does not work in a blackout area.

Mr. Porter had announced that the MyStar personal digital recorder had been delayed back to August 2007 rather than the May 2007 release date they had planned. [7] In November 2007 the MyStar was released to people who nominated to be informed when it was released.

MyStar was launched to existing subscribers in late 2007, with a general launch to both new and existing customers in February 2008.[8]

The current MyStar is the model T500. It is a 4 tuner set-top box equipped with 2 satellite tuners and 2 terrestrial tuners available both for viewing and recording standard definition digital free-to-air services including full electronic program guide data for Seven Network, WIN Television, Prime Television and Network Ten. (ABC, SBS and ABC2 continue to be provided via satellite). However, only two tuners can be used, owing to the fact the processor is not capable of handling all four tuners at once.

It features a 160GB Hard Drive, with 120GB User Accessible. It can record 60 hours of content. Because it is equipped with Macrovision Copy Protection, content saved to the MyStar cannot be transferred to other mediums (such as VHS or DVD) without the use of something such as a video stabiliser. It has support for Time shifting for up to 1 hour.[9]

Support for Dolby Digital Surround Sound is available on selected programming when connected to appropriate equipment, however the Mystar box won't control the volume when using optial or coax, the volume must be controlled by the device it is pluged into. It also has support for Closed Captioning and 4 different aspect ratios (4:3 Cropped, 16:9 Letterbox, 16:9 Postcard and 16:9 Widescreen). Both of these features are accessible through the remote’s coloured buttons.[9]

It supports additional outputs not found on some of the standard decoders such as Component Video, as well as both Coaxial and Optical digital audio outputs. Support for Composite Video, S-Video and RF Out are also available.It also has USB and Ethernet ports, but they have no clear function as yet, and are likely to be used for updating the decoder.[9]

The MyStar Remote is similar to the standard Austar Digital remote, but it has the addition of buttons specific to recording and playing back video. It shares an almost identical design to the Foxtel IQ remote, with the exception that it has an Austar button instead of a Foxtel button, and there is no AV button.

The next generation of MyStar, called MyStar HD, was launched on November 15, 2009, with installations beginning the following day. It has many advantages over its predecessor, most notably support for 1080i, HD programming. It includes a 320GB had disk, a doubling over the 160GB found in the original MyStar. Only 160GB of this is available for recordings and other user-selected content, whit the other 160GB being reserved for OnDemand content, which is set to launch in early 2010. MyStar HD also includes a HDMI output, allowing HD content to be viewed in its native resolution. It has a model number of T600.

Austar plans to utilise MyStar HD as its cornerstone Set-Top-Box going forward, with true video-on-demand coming in early 2010, and more access to web content becoming available after that time, building up to a complete interface redesign for its STB's in late 2011-early 2012.

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Mystar Criticism

The MyStar has been having ongoing technical issues which has plagued the system since release, however, Austar have said that "they have a huge team of people that will actively jump onto any issues as soon as they are reported to the call centre". Some of the numerous bugs are The MyStar box regularly causes the screen to black out, recordings to fail, freezing and has been known to automatically switch itself off and on.[10]

Austar Mobile (Mobile telephony)

Established in 2000, Austar Mobile offers mobile services via resale agreements with Optus [GSM] mobile network. After the closure of Telstra's CDMA network, Austar mobile will only offer services through Optus. AUSTARmobile, at June 30 2008, had 19,139 customers.

Dial-up internet (AUSTARnet)

Established in 2000, AUSTARnet currently outsources its network to COMindico and is available across Australia.

At June 30 2008, AUSTARnet had 20,190 customers.

Broadband Internet (Austar Broadband)

Established in 2006, Austar Broadband operates as a trial network in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales [11] and Tamworth, New South Wales [12].

Austar held the 2.5 & 3.5 GHz spectrum licences in regional Australia. This spectrums ideally suited for WiMAX.

Austar/Unwired Alliance

In 2005, Austar United and wireless internet provider Unwired announced a deal to swap spectrum under either company's control to allow for interoperable wireless broadband services across the country. In 2006, Austar United and Unwired together with Soul formed AUSalliance for the purposes of obtaining funding from the Australian Government's Broadband Connect Infrastructure Program and rolling out a regional broadband network[13].

Austar/Opel Agreement

In 2008, Austar entered into an agreement to sell its 2.5 & 3.5 GHz spectrum licences to the OPEL consortium (Optus & Elders) for AU$65 million and enter into a wholesale agreement with Optus for the resale of products operated by the OPEL consortium[14]. The sale was contingent on the OPEL network rollout, so was cancelled upon the cancellation of the OPEL network by the Australian Government.

Channel Listings

List of Austar set-top boxes

References

External links


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