Religious television service provider Sky Angel has launched a 70 channel package in the United States. The broadband delivered service, devoted to Christian and family television and radio programming, is being provided as an alternative to its existing satellite service. The IPTV service is available over existing broadband networks.

The launch of the broadband service comes after more than 10 years during which Dominion Video Satellite has provided Christian and family programming over a direct broadcast satellite. This business was originally founded more than 25 years ago to provide a Christian based family-friendly alternative to the standard television fare.

“Our founder and my father, Robert Johnson Sr, launched the Sky Angel brand more than a decade ago when high-power DBS technology was in its infancy,” said Rob Johnson, the chief executive of Sky Angel. “Today, our new company, Sky Angel U.S. LLC, shares that same pioneering spirit by employing new innovative technology that will enable the service to expand quickly and cost-effectively while maximizing the viewing experience for our subscribers.”

The use of internet protocol television technology enables Sky Angel to offer more than twice as many channels as previously available through the satellite service. It also provides a 48-hour playback option on the faith-based TV channels, as well as video-on-demand.

The 70 faith and popular mainstream channels will be offered in a faith package, with channels such as God TV, and a “family values” pack, featuring channels such as the Discovery Channel.

Sky Angel is using set-top boxes and a delivery platform developed by NeuLion. The system uses MPEG-4 H.264 transcoding at a low bit rate of just 700kbps, significantly below that of broadcast television, streaming video over standard internet protocols.

Unlike IPTV services offered by telecommunications companies such as Verizon, the Sky Angel service is being offered nationally over the top of existing best efforts broadband network connections.

This raises the question of whether the quality of service will be considered comparable by consumers with that of standard satellite services, and whether it will be acceptable to premium programming providers like Discovery. It is also unclear what effect the delivery of linear television services will have on third-party networks.