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Orange IPTV: Missing, presumed dead

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What if you launched an IPTV service, and nobody cared? That's the question that has apparently led Orange execs to ditch plans to offer broadband customers pay TV down their phone lines.

Orange UK chief Tom Alexander said yesterday that a review of the planned service had concluded it was too similar to BT Vision, Reuters reports. "No rollout imminent," he said.

Orange France's IPTV service has been a big success, and the UK tentacle has run trials in Leeds. A national rollout had been scheduled by the end of 2007, but hit delays.

Since then, Orange's broadband subscriber base has shrunk and the firm has slipped to sixth in the ISP league amid competition from strong entrances into the market by O2 and Sky. In February the firm told The Register it had chosen to focus on improving its poor customer service rather than subscriber growth. Alexander promoted that strategy again yesterday.

BT has aimed to carve out a niche for its IPTV service among people who want more TV than Freeview, but don't want to pay a monthly subscription for Sky or Virgin Media. Competing with Vision would be a big task, since BT has had limited success, and is throwing enormous marketing muscle behind it.

Against a competitor with a two year head start and a background of economic recession, an Orange IPTV launch would indeed seem crass stupidity.

Yet all ISPs are under pressure from shareholders to open up new revenue streams. Last week Orange won praise from privacy campaigners for disavowing any relationship with Phorm, although it hasn't ruled out using other behavioural targeting systems. ®

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