BT's plans to break into the television market have started to take shape with the announcement of BT Vision. The service will launch in the UK in the autumn, offering a mix of broadband internet access, on-demand internet content such as films, Freeview TV channels and a personal video recorder.
"The main difference from other services is that this is available to anyone who can receive BT broadband, something like 99.8 per cent of households in the UK. A number of rival services are only available in big urban areas," said Adam Liversage, chief press officer at BT.
"The way the technology works is also different to services such as HomeChoice because the content is entirely supplied through broadband.
"The free-to-air channels in BT's case will be supplied through Freeview. Basically you plug the box into your aerial and can record the Freeview channels onto the PVR and also access a wealth of content, some of which will be exclusive to BT."
Nick Caplin, a spokesman for HomeChoice, a rival television, broadband and movies-on demand service, admitted to vnunet.com that BT's new service may eat into its business.
"Of course it will have some kind of effect, but only as much as any other competitor in the field," he said.
"We've been going for quite a long time so we have a great deal of expertise and our subscription base is growing at pretty healthy speeds. We feel like we're in a pretty strong position as it is.
"With the build up to the digital switchover I think the market is only growing. As far as triple-play goes (combined digital TV, broadband and telephony) something like 85 per cent of our subscribers are on that option. Consumers like the ease that triple-play offers."
BT has not yet announced any pricing models for the BT Vision service. "It would be premature to give you a price but it will be very attractive," said Liversage.
"There are a lot more announcements about content and functionality, we've yet to comprehensively unveil the box and our marketing programme has yet to kick in. It's very early days."
Existing BT Broadband customers can register their interest in the new service at www.bt.com/btvision.
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