Thursday, 11 August 2011

Astro TV Service

As I start to settle in the new apartment the time came to get further services up and running, one of the main ones being Astro, the satellite TV service which provides a reasonably wide range of channels in English, Chinese, Indian and Bahasa Malay. To sign up for the service I took a bus (101) from Tg Tokong to Burmah Road and you get off the bus not far along Burmah Road from where the bus joins it at Jalan Bagan Jermal. The Astro centre can be seen on the ground floor of a row of shops (looking to your left on a bus travelling towards Georgetown) and is just before the junction of Burmah Road and Lorong Leandros.

Signing up is quite easy and painless. You first take a ticket upon entering the store (the security guard will assist if needed but the ticket machine is just inside the door). Once your number is called (which was almost immediate) you see a desk officer who, upon verifying it's a new application will point you towards the 'Sales' desk. Once there it's simply a case of proving a copy of your passport and a utility bill as identification. Having just moved in I had no utility bill so I took a copy of my tenancy agreement (or at least the stamped page and others showing the address) which was accepted. It's then a case of choosing your package and options.

There is a default package which everyone gets and I basically added all the English supplementals including movies, news and documentaries but excluding the sports channels. I also chose the option to a recording box (Astro B.yond) at and extra RM 10 per month (which means you will get a different Astro box which acts as a PVR as well). The sales staff are very helpful and will advise which of the packages and options are in either Malay, Chinese or Indian to avoid you choosing bundles which may be of limited use. You will also be asked if you want HD. Now here, it's a good idea to check with your condo management office if the building is wired for HD or not (this requires two line feeds as opposed to the normal one). If you are not HD enabled you can still get the recording option but only regular transimission. In my case, the buidling is wired for single feed now with the HD feed due to go live around October. It is worth noting that when you sign up for Astro you must take the service for a minimum of 12 months (in which case the box is free) and for two years if you want the recording service. The total package costs for me on a monthly basis will be around RM 100 (including the recording service).

The sales staff help with the very simple form completion and you will then be advised of the expected wait time. Most locals will get the install quite quickly but foreigners may need to wait for 2-3 weeks for the papers etc to be processed. There is nothing to pay on the day but you will be advised of the need to pay the installer RM 200 when they come to fit the box (fees may vary depending on which box you opt for and any offers at the time) in respect of which you will be contacted to arrange an appointment.

All in all a pretty painless process albeit the wait time could perhaps be speeded up. That said I don't watch TV that much so it's no big deal. I also think it's quite reasonably priced compared to the spiralling costs of services such as Sky in the UK.

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