Cable operator UPC has raised the competitive stakes in the Irish broadband market with news that it will transition all of its broadband customers to an entry-level speed of 50Mbps. In addition, the company has rolled out the first of its interactive apps that bring 45 channels to iPhone and iPad devices and it has said that the arrival of its next-generation Horizon set-top box is imminent.
UPC Ireland CEO Dana Strong said the company’s broadband customers who are on less than 50Mbps will be upgraded for free to the new entry-level speed. Users who require new modems to cope with the speed increase will be sent the latest modems for free.
The company’s sales and marketing director Mark Coan told Siliconrepublic.com that UPC’s next-generation set-top box code-named Horizon will arrive in the Irish market imminently.
But in the meantime, many of the capabilities of UPC’s Horizon platform – as they exist in the cloud –can be sampled on the company’s new iOS apps, as well as Horizon TV Online.
The new apps for iOS devices will enable users in households to enjoy more than 45 channels, including all the Irish and UK channels, as well as Sky News and Sky Sports, and rental movies and TV box sets.
When users go outside of the home network they will be able to access all the content, except the Irish and UK channels and the box sets due to rights agreements.
“Eleven per cent of all viewing is now on non-TV devices and we believe our apps address the requirements of families to allow viewing on a variety of devices throughout the home,” Coan said.
He said an Android version of the new apps will arrive in the summer.
The cable company has also launched a Horizon TV Online service that lets its customers access the 45 channels via their internet browsers.
UPC’s head of TV product Andy May said that across the browser app and the iOS apps, users will be able to interact with their set-top box at home and arrange for TV shows to be recorded and stored on their set-top boxes.
A first look at the new apps shows a serious amount of work went into user experience and it boasts a really cool wireframe feature that lets you select other channels while watching content.
A game-changer for the Irish broadband landscape
Returning to broadband, Coan explained that in the next two months, some 300,000 UPC broadband customers will receive or be offered a free upgrade to the new speeds.
Customers of 25Mbps and below will be upgraded to 50Mbps, while customers of 50Mbps and above will move to 100Mbps and 150Mbps speeds.
At present, just 10pc of Irish broadband users are on speeds of 50Mbps plus and following UPC’s speed increases that will expand to 30pc of all Irish broadband users on speeds of 50Mbps and higher.