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BT Launches Broadband-Based TV Service in U.K.

British Telecommunications (BT) is rolling out a new TV service, BT Vision, that will use a broadband-enabled set-top box to combine video-on-demand programming with the "Freeview" digital terrestrial broadcasts already available in the U.K.

The new HD-ready set-top, called the V-box, is made by Philips and runs on Microsoft TV IPTV Edition Software, and will be given away for free to consumers who sign a new contract with BT Total Broadband. The V-box will feature a digital video recorder with 80 hours of video storage to record either the 40 channels of over-the-air digital TV offered through Freeview or video-on-demand content that will delivered over BT's broadband pipe.

BT, which plans to launch several new sports programming packages in summer 2007, is not requiring customers to sign up for a minimum monthly programming plan for BT Vision, but is instead giving viewers the option of paying as they go.

“BT Vision is all about giving control to the viewer – control over what they watch, when they watch it and how they pay for it," said Ian Livingston, BT Retail chief executive, in a statement. "We believe that broadband can transform television and take it into a new era. BT Vision is ideal for people who want more choice than Freeview delivers but who want that extra choice without being tied to a pricey, long-term subscription.”