Austar

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Austar Communications
Industry Telecommunications
Predecessors CETV, East Coast Television (ECTV)
Successors Foxtel
Founded 1994[3]
Defunct May 24 2012
Headquarters Sydney
Gold Coast, Queensland
, Australia
Key people John Porter, CEO
Mike Fries, chairman
Products Direct broadcast satellite
cable television
internet access (former)
mobile phone (former)
Website austar.com.au

Austar was an Australian telecommunications company. Its main business activity was subscription television but it has also been involved with internet access and mobile phones. It was founded in 1994 under the name Community Entertainment Television (CETV).[3][4]

Austar's television subscriber base grew to 747,148 (at 30 June 2010), making it the largest subscription television operator in regional and rural Australia.[citation needed] Austar provided 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 operated a digital cable network in Darwin.

Austar is now owned by Foxtel, which acquired the company in 2012. Since the acquisition, Foxtel has progressively merged all operations into a national system. From 2 August – 12 October 2013 Foxtel merged all accounts to Foxtel and removed the MyStar related online services. This was the last step in the merge. In November 2013, the Foxtel IQ set top units were made available with satellite connections for those who wished to replace their MyStar units. From 2014 the Austar brand will no longer be used.

Austar was involved with providing services to Sega Channel in Australia in partnership with Sega Ozisoft, a joint venture between Sega and Ozisoft.

Foxtel takeover[edit]

On 11 July 2011, Austar announced that "it had entered into definitive transaction agreements with Liberty Global, Inc. (LGI) and Foxtel Management Pty Limited (Foxtel) under which Foxtel will acquire AUSTAR by a series of transactions including a scheme of arrangement (Scheme)."[5] This takeover involved a minority shareholder approval on 30 March 2012,[6] the approval of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on 10 April 2012,[7] and has had approval from a Second Court Hearing.[8] The Austar shares have been suspended on the ASX as of 16 April 2012,[9] and were delisted from the ASX on 27 April 2012.[5] The takeover was completed on 24 May 2012.[10]

Subscription television (Austar Television/Austar Digital)[edit]

Subscription Growth[11]
Year Subscribers
1998 300,000
2000 400,000
2004 443,000
2005 500,000+
2006 600,000+
2007 658,087
2008[12] 713,000
June 2010[13] 747,148
2011[14] 755,374

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

Austar Television is available in 2.4 million homes in regional areas of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia and all areas of Tasmania and the Northern Territory. 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.

On Demand (Featured)[edit]

Austar Featured on Demand used to deliver Austar shows – on demand – to the MyStar each week free of charge with a MyStar subscription. It has since been replaced by Foxtel on Demand.

Austar AnyWhere[edit]

Austar AnyWhere is Austar's online TV service, which allows customers to watch or download full-length programs online. Austar Anywhere closed on 30 June 2013.

MyStar PVR

The MyStar personal digital recorder[edit]

MyStar was launched to existing subscribers in late 2007, with a general launch to both new and existing customers in February 2008.[15]

The current MyStar is the model T500. It is a four-tuner set-top box equipped with two satellite tuners and two 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 because the processor is not capable of handling all four tuners at once.

It features a 160 GB hard drive, with 120 GB 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 media (such as VHS or DVD) without the use of something such as a video stabiliser. It has support for Time shifting for up to one hour.[16]

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 optical or coax, the volume must be controlled by the device it is plugged into. It also has support for Closed Captioning and four 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.[16]

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.[16]

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 15 November 2009, with installations beginning the following day. It has many advantages over its predecessor, most notably support for 1080i, HD programming. It includes a 320 GB hard disk, a doubling over the 160 GB found in the original MyStar. Only 160 GB of this is available for recordings and other user-selected content, with the other 160 GB being reserved for OnDemand content, which launched in early 2010. MyStar HD also includes an HDMI output, allowing HD content to be viewed in its native resolution. It has a model number of T600 and also a T601.

Austar planned to use MyStar HD as its cornerstone set-top box, with true video-on-demand launched in 2010, and more access to web content becoming available after that time, building up to a complete interface redesign for its set-top boxes in late 2011 or early 2012. Since the Foxtel acquisition these plans have changed. The plan was originally to upgrade MyStar and phase it out in 2014, however in 2013 Foxtel decided to convert their IQHD units to satellite connections and made them available to "Austar" customers in November 2013. Foxtel has no plans to force current MyStar subscribers to replace their unit, if they don't wish, however they are offering upgrades to customers who wish to take advantage before the IQ3 launch in 2014.

Mystar criticism[edit]

MyStar has ongoing technical issues which have 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, and the screen to freeze; it has also has been known to automatically switch itself off and on.[17]

Austar Mobile (mobile telephony)[edit]

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 31 December 2009, had 19,970 customers.

On 23 February 2011, M2 bought the contracts and records for its mobile service from Austar for $2 million.

Dial-up internet (Austarnet)[edit]

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

At 31 December 2009, Austarnet had 12,671 customers.

In August 2011, Austarnet announced its exit from the Internet business and indicated that services would be discontinued on 30 September 2011.[18]

Broadband internet (Austar Broadband)[edit]

Established in 2006, Austar Broadband operates as a trial network in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales[19] and Tamworth, New South Wales.[20]

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

Austar/Unwired Alliance[edit]

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 Coverged Telecommunications formed AUSalliance for the purposes of obtaining funding from the Australian Government's Broadband Connect Infrastructure Program and rolling out a regional broadband network.[21]

Austar/Opel agreement[edit]

In 2008, Austar entered into an agreement to sell its 2.5 & 3.5 GHz spectrum licences to the OPEL consortium (Optus & Elders) for A$65 million and enter into a wholesale agreement with Optus for the resale of products operated by the OPEL consortium.[22] The sale was contingent on the OPEL network rollout, so was cancelled upon the cancellation of the OPEL network by the Australian Government.

References[edit]

  1. ^ AUSTAR Homepage and Logo (accessed 6 September 2007)
  2. ^ AUSTAR United – About Us – Our Services[dead link] (accessed 6 September 2007)
  3. ^ a b Brewster, Deborah (3 November 1997). "Pay TV Goes Bush". The Australian. p. 40. 
  4. ^ Lipari, Kathy (10 September 1996). "Pay-TV – a new Austar is born.". Daily Telegraph (Sydney). p. 23. 
  5. ^ a b "About the Foxtel Proposal – Foxtel Proposal – Austar United". 'Austar United'. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "Austar shareholders approve Foxtel takeover". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "ACCC aprove Foxtel / Austar meger". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  8. ^ "http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20120413/pdf/425lrnzwssmkh4.pdf". 'Austar United'. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20120416/pdf/425mqdll2rg1ng.pdf". 'ASX'. Retrieved 23 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Foxtel completes Austar merger". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Austar United – History[dead link]
  12. ^ At 30 September 2008
  13. ^ "Austar profit tumbles". TV Tonight. 'David Knox'. Retrieved 18 September 2010. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Austar subscribers drop as profit rises". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Austar United Press Release – MyStar revolutionises regional Australian TV[dead link]
  16. ^ a b c [1][dead link]
  17. ^ http://warrnambool.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/costly-star-fails-to-shine-service-full-of-bugs/1322990.aspx
  18. ^ [2][dead link]
  19. ^ Austar United Press Release: http://www.austarunited.com.au/pdf/06-06-08%20AUSTAR%20Broadband%20launch%20release%20-%20final.pdf
  20. ^ Austar United Press Release: http://www.austarunited.com.au/pdf/06-11-28%20AUSTAR%20broadband%20arrives%20in%20Tamworth.pdf
  21. ^ Austar United Press Release: http://www.austarunited.com.au/pdf/06-03-29%20AUSTAR%20_%20Soul%20partner%20for%20regional%20b'dband%20network.pdf
  22. ^ Austar United Press Release[dead link]

External links[edit]