Inuk Networks has received £9.5 million in a second round of funding to develop its Freewire broadband platform. The investment is led by a subsidiary of Welsh channel S4C from its commercial revenues, together with initial investor the venture capital firm Wesley Clover. Freewire is already the largest true IPTV service in Britain and is planning international expansion.
Freewire is the brand for a broadband platform delivering video, voice and data services to consumers, with an initial direct focus on the student market.
“This is an exciting time for Inuk, with our Freewire service already available in over 100,000 student rooms in the UK and growing fast,” said Marcus Liassides, the chief executive of Inuk Networks. He said that the next academic year would see further expansion of its pay television, video-on-demand and targeted advertising platform. “S4C and Wesley Clover are providing the means to allow Inuk to further enhance our technology platform and to continue to redefine the way people watch TV.”
The commercial subsidiary of the Welsh public service broadcaster required ministerial approval to invest in Inuk Networks.
“This investment represents a coming together of S4C’s commercial ambitions and our understanding as a broadcaster of the importance of new methods of delivering content to consumers,” said Iona Jones, the chief executive of S4C, who will join the board of Inuk Networks. “We believe that Freewire is a compelling proposition and has the potential to become a mainstream digital television platform.”
The start-up company has also received further backing from Wesley Cover, the investment company headed by Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews.
Initially focussing on the student market using academic networks, Inuk can now claim more users than Tiscali TV, the only other true IPTV service in Britain, which acquired the business from pioneering company Video Networks. A year ago, Inuk announced a deal with Cable & Wireless to offer its platform nationally over their multicast enabled network.