Swisscom finally launches its IPTV service

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After a delay of more than a year Switzerland's incumbent telecoms operator Swisscom has today finally launched its Bluewin internet protocol television (IPTV) service. Swisscom is going up against dominant Swiss cable operator Cablecom in a country with 90% cable penetration but low take-up of cable internet and cable telephony. Swisscom hopes its triple-play of 100 digital TV channels, 500 video-on-demand titles and pay-per-view sports programming, plus high-speed internet access and voice telephony will lure subscribers from its rival.

Subscribers will also be able to access up to 30 extra premium channels from pay-TV operator Teleclub, and additional French pay-channels from Canal Plus. Bluewin's set-top box has a built-in digital TV recorder storing up to 100 hours of programming.

Three-quarters of the Swiss population (2.3m households) will be able to receive Bluewin via high bandwidth VDSL and lower bandwidth ADSL broadband telephone lines. The 2m homes with VDSL connections will enjoy the full Bluewin service, though 300,000 households with ADSL will only be able to receive a single television channel at a time, making it impossible to watch one channel while recording another. VDSL homes can receive two channels at any time.

Bluewin was set to launch last summer but Swisscom delayed its debut after conducting a limited market trial in conjunction with Microsoft, which is supplying its IPTV solution. The delay was seen as a possible sign that Microsoft's IPTV middleware was not ready for a full-scale roll-out. Reports said channel switching sometimes took several seconds, pictures and sound occasionally dropped out of synch, and Swisscom objected to the single channel availability.

Any problems that might have existed have clearly been resolved. Swisscom is Europe's third major telecoms operator to launch an IPTV service with Microsoft after Club Internet in France this June and Deutsche Telekom (which also owns Club Internet) in Germany last month.

Commenting on the delays the chief executive of Swisscom Fixnet Ueli Dietiker said: "We have suffered a lot. And we have helped to develop the Microsoft Internet-TV platform."

The VDSL Bluewin TV basic service is being offered for SwFr29 per month, SwFr4 more than Cablecom's monthly charge for its digital TV package, but 8SwFr more than its analogue tariff. The ADSL service will cost SwFr26. Cablecom has 117,000 digital TV subscribers and 1.5m analogue homes. Switching to Swisscom will not be easy for many Swiss families living in rented properties as line rentals are generally paid as a part of their accommodation.

Swisscom said Bluewin would "change the consumption of television content".

Lovelace Consulting  |  01.11.2006

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