Inuk Networks says that it has signed up 40,000 people to its Freewire TV broadband television service. It now has more customers than any other true internet protocol television service provider in the United Kingdom. It doubles the number of viewers in the country that receive television over an internet protocol network, overtaking established provider Tiscali TV.

With only 40,000 users, Freewire TV is now the leading IPTV service in the country. Tiscali, which acquired Homechoice in London and has since launched a national network, had only 36,000 customers towards the end of 2007.

BT Vision, heavily promoted by the national telecommunications company, recently reached over 150,000 customers for its broadband video service. This currently receives linear channels over the air, rather than through the broadband network, largely because the BT network does not currently support multicast distribution.

Freewire TV has been rolled out to more than 100,000 student bedrooms with access to the high-speed multicast-enabled JANET joint academic network which connects all universities in the UK. The service launched in September 2007 at the start of the academic year.

Marcus Liassides, the founder and chief executive of Inuk Networks, said that the ability to review real-time reports is showing some interesting patterns of viewing among its viewers, although it seems they watch much the same amount and type of television as the rest of the country.

“Students across the UK are embracing Freewire as their primary TV viewing platform and are on average watching over three and a half hours of TV per day, with the early-evening soaps proving to be most popular,” he said. “Students are also making a lot of use of the built-in ability of the Freewire platform to flip between watching their favourite shows and general web browsing on the computer.”

Inuk Neworks plans to add further premium channels to its platform, as it prepares to launch a residential service in the coming months through an exclusive partnership with Cable & Wireless, enabling it to reach the majority of homes in the country.

The founder of the Freewire TV service said the impending switch-off of analogue television services would provide a driver for further growth. “From the outset a key driver for us to deploy Freewire TV has been to provide a workable television solution for the estimated six million people in the UK who are in danger of being digitally disenfranchised by the ongoing switch-off of the analogue service.”

Freewire TV carries 25 primary channels available on Freeview digital terrestrial television and makes them available free to users. A premium service offers additional channels, including Setanta Sports, for £9.99 a month. There is also an international option, with channels such as Zee TV.

The Freewire platform can also be provided as a wholesale service to third-party providers, together with telephony services.