John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

Vodafone TV unveiled - UFB internet and TV

A Vodafone publicity shot of its new Vodafone TV - TV and internet product, launched today.
A Vodafone publicity shot of its new Vodafone TV - TV and internet product, launched today.

Vodafone has unveiled a new TV platform for ultra fast broadband - a move which could extend Sky TV's dominance of media content.

Last year Vodafone bought TelstraClear and today it revealed a platform built around Telstra's "T Box" - marketed as having more advanced features than the MySky set top box currently offered by Sky.

Vodafone has a commercial relationship with Sky TV which manages content for the new venture.

Two packages with unlimited broadband will allow users with access to Ultra Fast Broadband to access Sky or Freeview and to access at least 20 pay per view movies at a time.

It can also be linked with home phone services.

Matt Williams, Vodafone's Consumer Director, played down the content management role of Sky and said TVNZ, MediaWorks and Maori TV would also be involved in supplying content.

Having established the new platform Vodafone would subsequently offer the ability to access other online content and interactivity.

But it was apparent during the launch today that Sky TV will influence the content, and be able to acquire for itself any content Vodafone accesses for itself.

Vodafone does not intend to access content distinct from its commercial relationship with Sky. Williams said the the relationship with Sky does not give it any exclusivity preventing competitors from accessing content.

But the nature of Sky's confidential contracts relating to UFB for Internet Service Providers has been the subject of a controversial Commerce Commission inquiry whose release has been delayed.

It appears to limit the potential for Vodafone to seek its own content, independent from Sky, if it were so inclined.

Vodafone TV gives customers a choice of FreeviewHD or SKY channels and 36 channels of pay-per-view movies, including recent releases, in high definition.

The new service marks the growing shift to internet TV by including the accessing of Sky and Freeview content along with with pay-per-view movies - many of them available on the day of release in video stores.

The launch of Vodafone TV will be encouraging for Crown Fibre Holdings and may increase demand for UFB with video services traditionally a big factor increasing uptake.

Vodafone TV and Vodafone's Ultra Fast Broadband plans will initially be available in parts of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Vodafone's Ultra Fast Broadband plans are also available in Whangarei, Palmerston North and Dunedin. More areas will be announced soon.

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