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BT Vision Warns No Sky Sports TV Without Superfast Broadband.. Sort of

Friday, June 28th, 2013 (2:26 pm) - Score 12,653

Some customers of the BT Vision TV (IPTV) service could this weekend lose access to the Sky Sports 1 and 2 TV channels unless they have a good standard broadband connection or take the operators superfast BTInfinity (FTTC) service alongside their package.

The concern stems from a letter that was issued at the end of April 2013, which warned that BTVision was planning to change the way it delivered the Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels (these are currently the subject of a big competition complaint here) by sending the content over broadband instead of using the set-top-box’s terrestrial TV aerial receiver.

This in turn also followed an update in February 2013 in which BT advised that “from 22 February 2013 ESPN, Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 add-ons will only be sold to Vision customers who are on or take a BT Infinity package“.

Crucially the April letter appeared to advise customers that the change would affect those who live in an area covered by their superfast broadband BTInfinity service and told users to upgrade to this or risk losing access to the channels. Those who do upgrade would then get the channels back, albeit over their broadband link. This is partly related to the fact that BT will shortly make its rival free BTSport channels available to customers on their digital terrestrial TV service and or broadband.

It’s estimated by The Guardian that around 30,000 of BTVision’s total 810,000+ customer base pay for the Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels and roughly half of those (15k) take the service alongside a BTInfinity connection. So that leaves 15k on the older copper (standard ADSL2+) broadband lines that either don’t want BTInfinity (too expensive etc.) or simply aren’t covered by it.

A BT Support Forum Moderator said (here):

If you have BT Infinity, you’ll be able to get Extra Channels, Sky Sports 1 & 2 and the BT Sport Pack (BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN) on BT Vision+. If you have BT Infinity and YouView, you won’t be able to get Sky Sports.

If you have BT Broadband (copper broadband), you’ll be able to get BT Sport 1 and BT Sport 2 (in SD only), on BT Vision+ over your TV aerial. You’ll need a black Vision+ box and a viewing card. If you don’t already have a viewing card, we’ll provide one for a £10 one-off charge. As a BT broadband customer, you’ll also be able to watch all three BT Sport channels live on the BT Sport App, and online at btsport.com. You won’t be able to get BT Sport, Sky Sports, or Extra Channels on YouView with copper broadband, and Extra Channels, ESPN and Sky Sports 1 & 2 are only available on Vision+ with Infinity.

If you’re in a copper-only area and we’re able to stream your Sky Sports over your broadband (‘Broadband Channels’), you’ll have received a letter in the post letting you know.”

The move effectively forces some customers to upgrade to FTTC but BT has denied that those who don’t live in a BTInfinity area will lose the service. BT said that it has developed a “new technology to stream Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 over [slower] copper broadband”.

However BT also confirmed that “a minority of customers who do not have a fast enough copper broadband connection, will lose Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 this summer” and will instead be given six months free broadband and free BTSport.

ISPreview.co.uk notes that the related BT Sport App (video streaming) and btsport.com use adaptive bitrate technology to provide a “good viewing experience” over a variety of internet connections but even this requires a minimum speed of 400Kbps (0.4Mbps) and sadly there are still some that would fall outside of this.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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