Kingston Interactive Television, the ground-breaking broadband video service operated by Kingston Communications in the city of Hull, England, is set to close.
Although only ever available in Hull and East Yorkshire, the service was one of the original pioneers of internet protocol television or IPTV.
“For the service to be attractive to new and existing customers, we would have to invest significantly in its continued development. Without the benefits of scale, further investment in the KiT service would not be cost-effective, and due to anticipated increased competition in the digital TV market it is not viable to continue the service as it currently exists,” said Kevin Walsh, the managing director of Kingston Communications.
The number of video subscribers is understood to have fallen from 10,000 to around 4,000. The service is scheduled to close at the beginning of April, but it is understood that satellite operator BSkyB, which has its own plans for broadband services, may be exploring ways to keep it running.
Kingston Communications is something of an anomaly in the United Kingdom, being the only other incumbent telecommunications operator besides BT. The only surviving municipally owned telephone operator in the country, the former Hull City Telephone Department became Kingston Communications in 1987 and was partially floated in 1999.
The company launched a broadband interactive television service in 2000, one of the first companies in the world to launch television and video-on-demand over ADSL telephone lines. It drew the attention of the executives of major media companies, but failed to convince consumers in significant volumes.
For several years the BBC has used the KiT platform as a test-bed for local interactive services, providing custom developed enhanced television applications and locally produced news and community information.
The closure of KiT will leave VideoNetworks Home Choice as the only broadband video operator in the UK, although BT and Sky among others are expected to launch services.