BT Sends Clear Signal for NextGen TV

BT has set out its vision for nationwide next generation TV as it announced that Europe’s largest electronics company Philips has been selected to supply the set top box to deliver a range of unique services. Every set top box will include a personal video recorder (PVR) capable of storing up to 80 hours of programming and capable of delivering High Definition content. The BT-Philips partnership builds on the recently announced alliance with Microsoft, which will provide Microsoft TV IPTV Edition as the software platform for BT’s TV over broadband service.

The BBC has reported that BT say their service will be a world first combining access to digital terrestrial channels, an extensive video on demand library, “catch-up” TV and a range of interactive services. The unique combination of these services will provide BT customers with choice, convenience and control over their home entertainment.

BT is planning to offer these services across the UK from late summer / autumn 2006 saying they are the only company in the UK committed to providing such a nationwide service and that trials will begin next spring / early summer.

BT’s next generation TV service will be available to BT customers without the need for a subscription fee. Services available at launch or shortly afterwards will include:

• Entertainment on demand – an extensive library of movies, TV and music all available instantly
• Catch-up TV – programmes from the previous seven days broadcast schedule will be available on demand without the need to record
• Flexible payment – no mandatory subscriptions. Pay-per-view options
• Personal Video Recorder – simple to use recording function capable of storing up to 80 hours of programming
• More than 30 digital terrestrial TV channels
• Communication services – instant messaging, chat and video telephony on TV
• Interactive services – online games, retail opportunities and community services

Ian Livingston, chief executive BT Retail told the BBC: “Our services will be a world first and will place power in the hands of the viewer. No longer will BT customers be reliant on TV schedules. From next year, they will be able to watch what they like when they like. This is all about giving our customers choice, convenience and control.

“We see next generation TV as a vital element of our vision for home entertainment. In an increasingly converged world, BT customers will be able to benefit from the combination of television, communications and the internet. For example, football fans across the country will be able to chat using video telephony while watching a match. Our catch-up TV offering will also allow people to watch programmes they may have missed but wanted to see.

“This partnership confirms BT’s position as a world leader in the delivery of Broadband TV. Philips are a superb partner to have and we look forward to working with both them and Microsoft in the delivery of the home entertainment of the future.”
Rudy Provoost, CEO Philips Consumer Electronics said “Philips is very excited to partner with BT to introduce this innovative new digital TV service to the UK market. This cooperation is an important proof-point of our strategy providing consumers access to information and entertainment anywhere anytime, while preparing the road for HDTV. It is all about bringing innovation and ease-of-use to the consumer. This agreement – when formally signed will even further extend the leading position achieved by both BT and Philips in digital TV”.

“Microsoft is very pleased to be working with BT and Philips to realize an exciting new vision,” said Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer. “With BT service, Philips set-top boxes and Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software, the integrated entertainment and communications capabilities offered to UK consumers will be among the richest and most advanced in the world.”