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UPDATE Tiscali Culls Italian IPTV Service - Could the UK be Next

Posted: 30th Dec, 2008 By: MarkJ
Tiscali's Italian division has revealed that it intends to close its broadband DSL based Tiscali TV (IPTV) service before the end of December 2008, with digital terrestrial Italian channels following on 15th January 2009. Customers received no warning about the decision but will have their subscription fee for December refunded.

The ISP has offered no reason for the decision, although it's believed that the service had failed to attract enough subscribers. Similar concerns now surround the fate of Tiscali's TV service in the UK, which is typically offered as part of a triple-play bundle alongside broadband and voice (talk) products.

Tiscali UK originally acquired HomeChoice's on-demand broadband IPTV service in 2006 and ultimately brought its new Tiscali TV service to market in 2007. However its third quarter results for the same year showed a decline in subscribers from 45,000 to 36,000.

Uptake problems aside and Tiscali UK continued to press ahead with its new IPTV service, promising 200,000 subscribers by the end of 2008 (here). However since then no new TV subscriber statistics have surfaced, leading to growing concerns about an uncertain future for Tiscali UK's TV service - could it be next for the chop?

To date the UK IPTV market has proven to be a very difficult nut to crack, with Orange’s Internet TV plans most recently being shelved for a second time in November 2008 (here). By comparison others have had more success; BT’s Vision IPTV service continues to grow, albeit at a slightly slower than expected rate.

Part of the reason for all this is the dominance of both Virgin Media and BSkyB (Sky TV), which offer a strong mix of land and satellite TV, broadband and or voice bundles. Meanwhile other parts of the country remain hampered by poor broadband infrastructure, with many living too far from their exchange to receive a fast enough connection for viable IPTV.

Network improvements are coming, although those covered by BT may be forced to wait many more years before a service capable of delivering more than one or two megabits per second is within reach.

UPDATE 1:29pm: Tiscali's spokesperson has informed us that they have, "no plans to cease IPTV services in the UK." We are currently awaiting further subscriber statistics.
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