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IPTV gets cool reception in UK

Yes, but can it pick-up Channel 5?

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Broadband TV has yet to take off in the UK despite the fact that it is regarded as one of the oldest IPTV markets in Europe.

Stiff competition from satellite giant Sky and the soon-to-merge cablecos NTL and Telewest has meant that the UK has failed to jump onto the IPTV bandwagon, according to a new report from ScreenDigest.

With just 30,000 IPTV subscribers by the middle of 2005 - the vast majority of whom receive their service via local loop unbundling (LLU) operator VideoNetworks Limited (VNL) and its Homechoice service - the UK is losing ground on its European rivals.

And with so much competition on offer it will be tough for new entrants to gain a foothold in the sector. BT is due to unveil its broadband TV service next summer while ISPs Wanadoo, Tiscali and Bulldog are all planning to let punters access TV via their broadband connections.

Despite this, Screen Digest predicts that the number of IPTV subscribers in Europe is set to rise to almost nine million by 2009 up from 658,000 today. Indeed, the number of IPTV subscribers in Europe has increased 66 per cent so far this year. With more services set to come online, 2005 should see a 200 per cent increase compared to last year, according to Screen Digest's latest report into the European IPTV market.

Looking ahead, by 2009 IPTV will have a 9.4 per cent share of the European pay TV market with France, Italy and Spain leading broadband TV nations.

Said Report author Daniel Schmitt said: "Although some technical and content issues have yet to be resolved, the combination of compelling, competitively priced triple-play offers that include true video-on-demand will prove a winning formula. Many traditional pay television providers are finding that they too must adopt IPTV technologies in order to remain competitive." ®

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