Tiscali, the broadband provider that acquired the HomeChoice operation in London, has announced plans to roll out the broadband video service to several other major British cities. It will be available to a footprint of 10 million homes by the end of the year.
When Tiscali TV launches at the beginning of March, the existing 40,000 subscribers in the London area will benefit from a reduced price plan, starting at £14.99 a month for broadband and television.
Tiscali will essentially bundle its basic television service free to those that buy its broadband service. Subscribers will also be able to opt for extra channels and telephony services.
In the following months, the service will become available in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Newcastle, followed by areas of Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool by the middle of the year. By the end of 2007, Tiscali TV will cover an addressable market of 10 million homes.
This suggests that Tiscali will carry at least five regional variations of the national television networks to cover local news and, in the case of the commercial channels, regional advertising.
Tiscali is third largest provider of broadband over telephone lines in the UK, with 1.2 million broadband customers. In 2005 the company began its local loop unbundling plan, installing its equipment in telephone exchanges.
In July, the company will launch a new set-top box with a 160GB personal video recorder with a high-definition output.
“Tiscali TV will give our subscribers real value for money, choice and flexibility — things that are core to our brand values,” said Mary Turner, the chief executive of Tiscali UK. “Our TV service gives customers broadband plus the channel choice they want and free on-demand programming, all for the price you would pay for a standard broadband connection.”
The national roll-out of Tiscali TV comes as cable television in the United Kingdom will be relaunched under the Virgin Media brand. Meanwhile, satellite broadcaster Sky has been signing up subscribers to its broadband service and the incumbent telecommunications company BT is planning to market its BT Vision hybrid broadcast and broadband video offering.
Tiscali TV will be a true internet protocol television or IPTV service, delivering television channels and video services over broadband telephone lines. It builds on the pioneering foundation of Video Networks, which created the HomeChoice broadband video service in the capital but managed to sign up less than 50,000 subscribers from the 2.4 homes it reached. Video Networks first announced plans for a national roll out at the end of 2005 but failed to find the funding for the project. Tiscali acquired the loss-making company in exchange for an 11.5% stake in Tiscali UK.