BT Vision launches across UK, Powered by Microsoft TV

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Will broadband Internet kill broadcast TV? This is a hot debate on the web and in the broadcast industry at the moment. Benjamin and I will be getting the skinny on the latest direct from Le Web 3 next week in Paris. It does look like we have moved a step closer to the demise of broadcast TV with the launch of BT Vision - BT's new digital TV service that delivers a hybrid of digital terrestrial television combined with value-added IP services over broadband. The Philips designed set-top box (the V-Box), powered by a Microsoft TV-enabled system-on-chip, offers advanced features including 80 hours of hard disk recording capability, two tuners, smart card reader, HDTV and numerous extension capabilities. Viewers can ‘time shift’ programmes at their convenience, pausing live shows or record them to watch at a later date.

The key thing is that this is a broadband connected device that can support a myriad of services which can be added to over time. Initially users will be able to pay per view from BT's 'extensive' video library covering films, music videos, TV shows and kids shows. A new 'catch-up' service to be available shortly is however the most interesting. The concept is that programmes from broadcasters (like Channel 4 (the first adopter), BBC and ITV) will be available on-demand from BT's library up to a week after the broadcast date, enabling users to have even more control over when they choose to watch a programme.

To use BT Vision you must already have BT Total Broadband install delivering a 2mb or more service. Apart from the broadband subscription and the initial installation charge for setting up your V-Box, BT Vision charges only for the library content you choose to watch, although there are month subscription packages you can sign up to if you like. BT are keen to emphasize that these are optional and you can effectively 'pay as you go' with no monthly fee commitment.

I'll be delivering a full demo video of the service for On10 shortly - so stay tuned!

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