Belgacom, the leading Belgian telecommunications operator, has launched Belgacom TV, an internet protocol television service, following a six-month trial with a thousand customers.

Belgacom TV will provide 55 television channels as well as movies on demand. From next month the service will include overage of a number of premium football matches on a pay-per-view, weekend pass or monthly subscription basis. Later in the year, Belgacom will offer Internet browsing, video recording and other interactive services.

“Belgacom TV will give impetus to the Belgian television market, which has been stagnant for too long,” said Didier Bellens, Belgacom’s president and chief executive. “Belgian viewers want more flexibility, more choice and better quality. Belgacom TV offers better image and sound quality, exclusive and more interesting content, and above all, the possibility for viewers to manage what they want, when they want. From now on, every television viewer will be able to create their own television experience.”

The IPTV decoder and remote control can be rented for 6 euros a month, with television channels available free of charge in an introductory offer.

Belgacom is investing in VDSL and ADSL2+ high-speed broadband connections and aims to be able to offer Belgacom TV to more than 60% of Belgians by the end of the year.

The Belgacom IPTV service is based on the Siemens Surpass platform. Siemens is one of the leading competitors to the alliance between Alcatel and Microsoft to provide an end-to-end platform for IPTV services. In April Siemens announced the acquisition of middleware provider Myrio to enhance its Surpass solution.

Last month Dutch operator KPN announced that it had chosen Siemens for IPTV services that it plans to introduce over its broadband network later this year.