Set-tops 'free' with digital via cable TV

Set-tops ‘free’ with digital via cable TV
Svetlana Josifovska Consumers who choose digital television services through cable this autumn will be spared the cost of the set-top box. According to the telecommunications services supplier, Cable & Wireless, cable set-top boxes will come free as part of the service, unlike digital satellite and terrestrial boxes which will cost up to ?400. Cable & Wireless made the announcement with its first order for an Internet-based operating software to be used in its digital cable television service. “We don’t want to tie the consumers to spend over ?200 per box which may become obsolete soon after,” said a Cable & Wireless spokesperson. “We don’t want to push the consumers in a technological cul-de-sac, but to try digital services for themselves without spending the money.” The first batch of set-top boxes will be supplied by US firm General Instrument. The conditional access is General Instrument’s own Digicipher. “The conditional access or the technology in the box shouldn’t be important to the consumer because we will be upgrading the boxes, with the upgrade of our services, at no extra cost,” added the spokesperson. Cable operators already have a fibre-backbone network in place with coaxial links to the homes. Currently, in the UK there are 4.2 million passed homes of which 750,000 subscribe to the analogue cable service. Among the benefits the cable service will bring is the localisation of information content. Also, additional phone lines for interactivity and external dishes or antennas accompanying satellite and terrestrial services, are not required.

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