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ISP BT Preps UK Pay TV Relaunch with New WiFi Set Top Box

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 (1:18 pm) - Score 11,563
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Credible sources have informed ISPreview.co.uk that BT’s retail UK broadband ISP division plans to relaunch their Pay TV (IPTV) service early next year alongside a new WiFi equipped Set-Top-Box (STB), as well as some additional content (e.g. NOW TV, Britbox and Disney+) and new service features.

At present the best STB that BT TV offers is their Ultra HD (4K) equipped YouView box (Humax DTR-T4000), although like so many other PVR-capable (Personal Video Recorder) devices on the YouView+ platform it lacks WiFi and can only be connected via a wired Ethernet (LAN) cable to your broadband router. The DTR-T4000 also lacks High Dynamic Range (HDR) support (bit of an oversight since BT Sport can do HDR).

The good news is that BT appears to be gearing up for a relaunch of their Pay TV platform, which will take place around early 2020 (likely to be officially announced around December 2019) and this will be complemented by a new STB. At this stage we don’t know if this will also be a Humax built YouView+ box, although it appears to have many of the same features and so our assumption is that they will be retained.

The new box will include support for 4K and HDR video content, as well as Dolby Atmos sound. Crucially though they’ve also added the ability to connect the box via WiFi (a very long overdue but welcome feature) and you’ll still be able to record two channels while watching a third.

On top of that BT will also add a Bluetooth remote control, integration with Amazon / Netflix / YouTube etc. and in the future a new content sharing feature via app to a second box. As previously reported, BT’s deal with Sky means that NOW TV is also coming to the new box and we understand there are plans to potentially include Britbox and Disney+ when they launch (or possibly a little later).

The addition of Disney+ is likely to be quite attractive given all of the Marvel, Star Wars movies and new TV shows that are currently being developed for it. However at this stage there’s no information on how much all of this will cost, what ports will be on the new STB or what sort of bundles will be offered.

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Mark Jackson
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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24 Responses
  1. Avatar TheFacts

    Record 2x4k and watch a 3rd over wifi?

  2. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    You would expect the new STB to aupport 4K HLG to compete with Virgin Media’s offering last summer when Eurosport did these broadcasts from the French tennis Open.

  3. Avatar SD

    Hopefully we can have all the “standard” channels over IP and in HD as well so we can finally get rid of the DVB antenna / or the satellite!
    I would have bought BT TV ages ago if it was full IP TV.
    IS that likely you think this time?

    • I’ve not seen it mentioned for the new STB but the technology does exist. However getting broadcasters to agree on such things tends to be very tricky.

    • Avatar John

      OpenReach choose to use the Multicast option for streaming channels because it makes transmitting considerably resort and cheaper.

      Normal channels could at present be broadcast over Multicast also but would need a significant rewriting of the Youview code to allow these to be shown on the same channel numbers on the TV guide as DVB-T(2) (aerial) channels.

      I’m not sure the OTA channels would be keen on IPTV versions duplicated way down the TV guide after subscription channels.

      I don’t see that happening anytime soon, although having a currently broken communal aerial I’d welcome it.

    • Avatar James

      TBH they wouldn’t need to have them at the bottom of the guide as BT could launch their own fully IPTV service similar to SKY satellite and have the channels in whatever order they want so no need for the Freeview EPG.

    • Avatar John

      That’s not likely if it’s a Youview box.

      Youview boxes are sold as receiving Freeview, though they cannot carry the Freeview HD logo as they lack certain features required.

      The way Youview boxes work is you receive the TV guide of your ISP, not your TV provider and not the Youview box supplier.

      If I use my Talktalk Youview box on a BT line it immediately wants to update to show the BT TV guide, if the line has TV or not.

      All Youview boxes and their ISP’s share identical channel numbers.

      A Youview box simply detects your ISP and if it’s Plusnet, BT or Talktalk they all default to the theme/guide of the ISP, regardless of box.

      This could be a stumbling block for your suggestion if this is a Youview box.

      Hence my comment above, it would need a significant rewrite of the Youview code or for BT to use the high hundreds for terrestrial channels over IPTV.
      800-999 being the only area in the Youview guide they would all currently fit.

      https://www.a516digital.com/p/youview-channel-listing.html

      Of course it might not be a Youview box.

  4. Avatar beany

    I wonder how much they will charge existing customers to upgrade to the box? If its anything like their routers it will be around £100.

  5. Avatar Matthew

    Full IPTV has to come soon you would think Sky in Italy have managed get Sky Q over Fibre and in UK we can’t even get Freeview IPTV fully lol.

    • Avatar SD

      In Belgium Belgacom TV e.g. was launched in 2005, and is a solely full IPTV solution, that broadcasts all the channels.
      Very handy when you do not want an aerial or satellite dish!
      Their solution to give you wireless IPTV was simply using Ruckus access points and or powerline adaptors between the router and the STB, job done.

    • Avatar Matthew

      But this is UK broadcasters they have to be brought kicking and streaming to agree anything lol.

    • Avatar James

      There is a difference with IPTV and just streaming channels over the internet.
      IE Now TV is just streaming channels over the internet and BT us IPTV protocol for their paid TV service(not Freeview channels)

  6. Avatar Walkerx

    After having BTTV in the past I rather stick with my Sky dish or aerial as at least you’ll still get a signal if your Internet is down as you won’t be able to watch recordings of iptv if offline.

  7. Avatar Thomas

    The aerial will be around to stay for quite a while. The cost of broadcasting those channels is free. In order for BT’s pay TV to remain competitive, keeping costs down and partnering content over IPTV is a higher priority than getting free channels converted an IP connection via Multicast. In response they’ve dropped the price of an aerial installation considerably for their pay TV customers.

    • Avatar Simon

      Hardly free – just for the BBC in 2012-13 the cost of distributing their content was £233million or 6.5 percent of the licence fee.

    • Avatar Thomas

      Spot on Simon, my mistake I meant free for BT to supply freeview channels as it’s broadcasted over the air via an aerial, in comparison to the cost of broadcasting freeview channels via multicast.

    • Avatar John

      His point was it’s free to BT, not to the channels.

      Why would BT want to pay to broadcast them over Multicast?
      A DVB-T/T2 receiver and job done.

      For BT to broadcast all the OTA channels over Multicast they would either need the channels to pay/contribute or pick up the bill themselves.

      The fact OpenReach handles the current Multicast streams for Talktalk, Plusnet and BT (Youview’s current consumers of multicast channels) in an identical way means BT wouldn’t want to pick up this bill alone.

      There’s different free channels between Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin because the channels all need to pay to transit over each medium.

      With most homes having a Sky dish or TV aerial would there be any incentive for channels to pay to broadcast over IPTV?

      If not is there enough demand for this feature for someone like BT to pick up the tab?
      I suspect not at the moment.

  8. Avatar Yatta

    Interesting, but it’ll be a great shame IMO if they abandon YouView, it’s my favourite PVR platform.

  9. Avatar Optimist

    I would like a STB to provide as many Freeview channels as possible timeshifted so I don’t have to buy a TV licence (obviously no BBC).

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