Smart to soft launch IPTV service next month

27 Mar 2008

Smart Telecom has told that it will next month be soft-launching its anticipated internet protocol (IP) TV service in locations close to the 37 unbundled exchanges where it currently offers broadband.

Once live, the IPTV service will offer a DSL-based multi-channel alternative to existing cable and satellite services from UPC and Sky respectively.

The company’s chief operations officer, Pio Murtagh (pictured), said the IPTV service is in the final stages of testing. “We’re looking to launch the service to our existing customer base in April.

“We will begin with a soft-launch where we will select customers closest to exchanges or who are on the smaller copper loop closest to the exchange and once we’re happy with the quality of service, we will begin a general rollout,” Murtagh explained.

A preview of the forthcoming technology seen by demonstrated new 21st-century services where phone calls to the home come in through the TV screen and the live programme can be paused and then resumed when the call ends.

In recent months, Smart said it was making a €2.5m investment in a new state-of-the-art MPEG 4 IPTV headend and middleware solution with French provider, Thomson.

The new IPTV platform will enable Smart to deliver its new digital services of more than 100 TV and radio channels to an addressable 550,000 homes across Ireland where it has 37 exchanges unbundled.

As part of a sneak preview, Murtagh demonstrated voice switch integration on the electronic programme guide of the company’s IPTV service. The service will include programme stagger features such as time shifting that can allow viewers to watch previous days’ viewing.

Yesterday, Smart announced the national rollout of its high-speed symmetrical business broadband packages for the SME and corporate markets including 2MB, 4MB, 8MB, 10MB and 16MB products with no usage limits, contention or line sharing.

The new high-speed broadband packages will be available to over 49,000 business customers throughout the 37 Smart Telecom exchanges in Dublin, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Sligo and Waterford.

The new packages are designed to accommodate domain transfer, web hosting, email, IP address, videoconferencing, VOIP and enhanced upload requirements.

The business products follow hot on the heels of the launch of similar high-speed symmetrical broadband services for residential users.

“The idea is to ensure firms that want fibre-like services can get them at reasonable prices,” Murtagh explained.

“From what I can see, the market seems to be focused on purely residential products and no one is focusing on the specific needs of the business community. Most people need more than just broadband; they want email addresses, IP addresses and enhanced upload options. These are packages that actually suit the needs of SMEs in Ireland.”

By John Kennedy