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BT Retail UK Planning to Bundle FREE YouView TV Boxes with Broadband

Posted: 24th Nov, 2010 By: MarkJ
uk youview broadband internet tvbt retail ukTelecoms operator BT is reportedly planning to bundle FREE YouView (Project Canvas) IPTV boxes with its broadband ISP (BT Total Broadband) packages at some point during the first half of next year. YouView claims to be an "open technical standard" for bringing subscription free broadband based UK internet connected TV services ( e.g. iPlayer , 4oD , ITV Player ) directly into homes via special £100+ Set-Top-Boxes (STBs).

The move does not come as a surprise; BT offers similar promotions via its existing internet TV service, BT Vision. In addition, the operator has already revealed that current Vision customers can expected an upgrade to support the new YouView technology (here).

Andy Baker, Director of BT Vision, said (BrandRepublic):

"When YouView launches in the first half of next year, BT will offer the service to consumers via a variety of packages. YouView may be offered at special rates as part of new or improved broadband packages."

BT freely admits that its current BTVision service hasn't exactly lived up to expectations. Some early predictions were known to target 1 to 2 Million customers, yet to date they have only managed to secure a not unrespectable total of 520,000.

TV remains a difficult field to tackle, not least due to its dominance by SkyTV ( Sky Broadband ), Virgin Media UK and the lack of an adequate broadband infrastructure to support viable IPTV streaming. BT probably isn't helping its position in this market by "considering" a plan to sell ads on its service, which risks making it even less attractive to consumers.

However the situation is improving and BT will soon leverage its new "Fibre" based FTTC (up to 40Mbps) and FTTH / P (up to 110Mbps) services to support YouView, despite its poor coverage (40% of UK premises by 2012). The operator has also developed a new Content Delivery Network (CDN) to assist both itself and other ISPs in adopting the service.

YouView itself is a Joint Venture between the BBC , ITV , BT , TalkTalk , Channel 4, five and Arqiva. TalkTalk has made no secret about its own ambition to launch a YouView service next year and, like BT, it is also constructing a CDN of its own (here).

As it stands, YouView remains untested in the commercial world and consumers will ultimately be the ones to decide whether or not the service is worth having. There is a definite demand for an alternative to Sky's costly Satellite TV and Virgin's Cable offerings, although besting those two is no easy task.

It's worth pointing out that one of the reasons for BT and TalkTalk's noted opposition to Net Neutrality (the principal of treating all internet traffic as equal) is because it risks impeding their ability to sign unique content deals for new broadband based TV content. Of course going the TV route means seeing the likes of YouTube as a competitor and TalkTalk would love to charge Google for that.
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