Virgin Media reveals its set-top box

Virgin Media is launching a Freeview-style set-top box, as first revealed by Marketing Week (MW March 8). The cable giant will offer a free box to non-cable customers purchasing the £19.99 8mb broadband and Talk Anytime phone bundle. It will cost £40 for customers on other broadband packages.

The launch is part of Virgin Media’s strategy to reposition itself as a entertainment brand rather than just a cable operator.

The digital TV service, which uses the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform, is available in areas not covered by cable and offers over 40 TV and 25 radio channels. Cable’s infrastructure covers less than half the UK population.

Philip Snalune, Virgin Media managing director of non-cable, says the launch enables Virgin Media to offer its “quad-play” of mobile, home telephone, TV and broadband services nationwide. He adds that “more advanced” TV services will follow through the year.

Virgin Media, which relaunched from the NTL and Telewest brands in February this year, is expected to launch a television over broadband (IPTV) service later this year.

Virgin Media has 3.3 million television subscribers while BSkyB has 8.4 million. Freeview is the primary source of digital television in 7.1 million homes.

The launch follows hostilities between Virgin Media and Sky. Virgin has threatened to take the satellite operator to court in two days time, if a dispute over the carriage of certain Sky channels on cable is not resolved.

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