Sky looks to retain position with fibre and IPTV offerings

Sky, the UK TV broadcaster and ISP, has announced that it is adding a fibre broadband product to its internet packages, while also for the first time offering an á la carte internet TV service to compete with UK newcomer Netflix.

Sky’s fibre service, based on UK incumbent BT’s wholesale network, will offer download speeds of 40Mb at a cost of £20 per month, undercutting BT. Sky said that the fibre package would be available  from April to 30 per cent of UK homes, and that this would increase in line with BT’s fibre rollout.

Aside from fibre, the company also announced plans to make its ADSL2+ service available to 88 per cent of UK homes by June 2013. The move follows a strong quarter for Sky, who said in the last three months of 2011 added 166,000 new customers to its ADSL broadband service.

Outside of the home, Sky said all of its customers will be able to make use of a public wifi service, powered by The Cloud, the UK wifi provider it purchased in January 2011.

“This year sees a number of enhancements that will ensure we create even more choice”, Stephen van Rooyen, managing director of Sky’s sales and marketing group said in a statement. “Whether it’s the launch of free public wifi, extending our network into more parts of the UK, or adding fibre to our product mix, we are focused on meeting the demands of customers and on being their number one choice for home communications.”

Sky, predominately a satellite based broadcaster, also said it was bringing an internet TV offering available to everyone in the UK, even if they were not Sky customers. Movies will be available at launch on a monthly package unlimited access basis or for one off rentals, with sport and general entertainment available at a later date. The service is set to arrive in the first half of 2012 on a range of devices, from PCs and Mac to phones, tablets and games consoles.

The move is a clear shot across the bows of Netflix, which after shaking up the pay TV landscape in the US is seeking to do the same in Europe, launching in the UK in early January. Commenting on the plans Sky’s chief executive, Jeremy Darroch said in a statement: “This exciting new service will offer some of Sky’s most popular content through a wide range of broadband connected devices. Alongside the continued growth of our satellite platform, this will be a new way for us to reach out to consumers who love great content, but may not want the full Sky service.

Completing it response to rival online services, Sky announced that the popular iPlayer service, from its broadcast rival the BBC, would finally be available as part of its Anytime+ internet based catch-up service, which launched as a Sky Broadband exclusive offering in October 2010.

The BBC said that it was now willing to make its iPlayer service available to Sky due to the latter opening up Anytime+ access to all ISPs, rather than just customers using Sky Broadband. “A core BBC value is to reach all audiences on a universal basis, so Sky’s plan to make Anytime+ available to customers regardless of their internet provider is an important development in helping to bring BBC iPlayer to around 5 million new homes in 2012 – at no extra charge,” the BBC said in a statement.

The Broadband MEA conference is taking place on the 25-27th March 2012, at the Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Dubai, UAE. Go to the website now to register your interest.

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