A small British company based in Brighton is promising to take on the major platform operators with a plan to install half a million set-top boxes for its broadband television service by the end of 2008. Global Digital Broadcast says it will have 100,000 boxes installed by Christmas.

The high-definition set-top boxes are programmed to receive over 700 channels from 84 countries. GDB has signed a deal to release and install 500,000 broadband set-top boxes within the consumer market in the United Kingdom by the end of 2008. It has teamed up with another local company, VeHDa, based in Arundel. The partnership with VeHDa and its sister company Play TV will employ over 200 installation engineers.

GDB co-founder, Mr Jim Deans, says: “Our marriage to VeHDa and Play TV finalises our route to market, allowing GDB to continue with its engineering and software platform development whilst knowing that consumer interests are being handled by a team of experienced professionals.”

Channels available with include those on digital terrestrial television received through twin tuners, as well as Play TV movies, entertainment and sport channels, and niche, local and international channels delivered over broadband.

James Thompson of VeHDa said: “This is a victorious deal for all parties concerned and I feel that, ultimately, the end user is the biggest winner here, because we are giving them greater choice, flexibility and control.”

The network provider will be Connexions 4 London, a wholesale internet service provider. C4L founder, Matt Hawkins, said: “This is a brand new class of IPTV and we’re on board because we can support the high-capacity bandwidth required to take home entertainment to the next level. It is a very smart move to give consumers triple play and hi-def in one easy solution and Play TV looks to be the next major player in the market.”

The roll-out of the VeHDa boxes, manufactured by CIMA Technology in China, will start in September.

“We feel that GDB and VeHDa have a clear vision of what IPTV can truly offer to the customer and that this exceeds the limited offerings from BT and Sky,” said Angus Kirkwood, co-founder of CIMA.

The service will compete directly with those from major operators such as BT Vision, and in the future Orange, no doubt with a fraction of their marketing budget. It represents a vision of a world of services delivered over an open network, as opposed to the closed networks managed directly by many service providers.

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