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Before yesterdayBroadband TV News: Cable

EQT acquires Maltese operator Melita

By Julian Clover

Malta’s Melita has been acquired by EQT Infrastructure from Apax Partners and Fortino Capital.

In a statement, EQT Infrastructure said it would continue to support the growth of Melita, by investing in its network and is committed to continue to provide high quality services to current and future customers.

Founded in 1991, Melita is a fully converged operator, running : nationwide Gigabit broadband services for households and small businesses, mobile and fixed telephony as well as TV services.

Ulrich Köllensperger, Partner at EQT Partners and Investment Advisor to EQT Infrastructure IV, comments: “EQT has been built on a passion for developing companies. We invest in good companies across the globe with the aim of turning them not only into great companies but also sustainable ones. This is exactly the formula we aim to apply to Melita, which is already an innovator in the Maltese market and beyond in terms of infrastructure, products and customer service. As a result, we are confident that the coming months and years will be exciting and rewarding both for Melita’s employees and for its customers.”

Melita will continue to operate under the leadership of CEO Harald Rösch, a longstanding Industrial Advisor to EQT.

“This transaction is another proof of our success over the last years, built on the hard work from all employees and support from our owners,” said Rosch. “With the backing of EQT Infrastructure and their extensive experience in our industry, we will continue the journey by developing our networks and providing outstanding customer experience in the years to come. Melita is ideally positioned to grow in the Maltese telecom market and beyond.”

The financial details have not been disclosed.

Poland makes cable infrastructure access ruling

By Chris Dziadul

The president of the Polish Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) has issued decisions specifying the terms of access to the infrastructure of the country’s six largest cable operators.

In a statement, the regulator says that the key element of the decision are “conditions for providing access to telecommunications infrastructure in the field of telecommunications cables in multi-family buildings” They constitute a universal set of rules and rules in the field of access to the telecommunications entrepreneur’s infrastructure, including telecommunications cables.

It adds that the decisions are part of UKE’s strategic activities in the period 2017-2023 and aimed at promoting joint investments, supporting the construction and sharing of infrastructure and ensuring effective inter-operator cooperation.

They are taken to implement the assumptions of the European Digital Agenda and the Europe 2020 Strategy, bringing Poland closer to the gigabit society.

UKE also says that the decisions were preceded by an analysis in which its president took into account all the gathered evidence.

It concludes by saying that the decisions, which affect Netia, UPC Polska, Muktimedia Polska, Vectra Investments, Inea and Toya, are not final.

CableLabs look to better Wi-Fi experience with Dual Channel Wi-Fi

By Julian Clover

At least 15% of customer service calls are Wi-Fi related, says CableLabs’ Luther Smith.

Cable’s technology body believes that amid a rush to improve speed, coverage and support for devices in the Wi-Fi ecosystem the need to have the necessary airtime to send data to all end devices in a timely manner is being ignored.

CableLabs has been working to bridge the gap with Dual Channel Wi-Fi technology.

In a blogpost, Smith explains Dual Channel Wi-Fi delivers an efficient and more reliable wireless connection. “Wi-Fi has become ubiquitous over the years and is the primary method by which we connect devices in the home, at work and in public places to reach the Internet,” he writes. “Multiple Wi-Fi devices in a typical broadband home can cause contention for available frequencies. Dual Channel Wi-Fi addresses Wi-Fi congestion issues by providing one or more channels for downstream-only data in addition to the primary bi-directional channel.”

By virtually eliminating hesitation and pixilation of video delivery, Dual Channel Wi-Fi enables smooth gameplay without delays and faster overall delivery of data to both Dual Channel Wi-Fi and non-Dual Channel Wi-Fi devices.

In tests run by CableLabs, data transfer speeds increased up to 12 times while airtime efficiency (by reducing the need for retransmissions) increased by 50 percent.

Vodafone chooses WISI for faster Gigabit upgrade of cable networks

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German technology provider WISI and its partner GiaX jointly support the accelerated upgrade of Vodafone Deutschland’s cable networks for Gigabit speeds with their system technology.

By using the Giga HFC solution to upgrade its cable infrastructures, Vodafone Deutschland will be able to offer its customers 1Gbps more efficiently and quickly, stresses WISI. According to the company, Giga HFC is currently the fastest and most cost-effective technical option for bringing up to 10Gbps downstream and 10Gbps upstream on coaxial cable into cable networks in addition to the existing services.

With this Ethernet overlay solution, Vodafone can carry out the ongoing Gigabit upgrade while largely avoiding underground works. In this way, up to 70% of the costs can be saved compared to conventional fibre optic upgrades. Since the existing structures of the cable networks are used without changes, the time required for planning and upgrading is also reduced. Additionally, the active hardware in use – such as fibre nodes, amplifiers and end-devices – does not have to be changed or replaced.

After successfully completing the field trials, Vodafone commissioned WISI to supply the complete system technology including the remote PHY components and to coordinate and implement the cable network upgrades.

“Thanks to the technical solution from WISI and GiaX, we can upgrade our high-performance cable network for our customers to Gigabit speeds very cost-effectively and quickly by 2021. An important factor in our decision in favour of WISI was that, in addition to the cost savings associated with the upgrade, we can continue using the existing cable network structures as before,” said Dr Thomas Kühne, head of network engineering, fixed access network, at Vodafone Deutschland.

Thomas Scherle, director sales CATV/HFC Europe at WISI, added: “Vodafone’s cable network makes a key contribution to Germany’s transition towards becoming a gigabit society. We look forward to accompanying Vodafone’s Gigabit offensive with our market-leading and groundbreaking technology for seamless network digitisation.”

Jörg Hellwig, managing director and founder of GiaX, said: “GiaX is proud to work with Vodafone Deutschland and WISI Communications on the Giga HFC project. The HelEOS product family enables cable operators such as Vodafone to upgrade existing coaxial cable networks with standards-based 10Gbps Ethernet connections to serve distributed access architecture systems.”

German commercial broadcasters reject Vodafone’s concessions

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The measures proposed by Vodafone to the EU Commission to obtain approval for the acquisition of Unitymedia miss the point, according to German commercial broadcaster association VAUNET.

They should therefore have no impact on the Commission’s evaluation of the case, according to the association. In its concession package, Vodafone proposes an agreement allowing Telefónica Deutschland to offer its own broadband products on Vodafone’s network. Secondly, Vodafone intends to commit itself to maintaining sufficient capacity for OTT services from TV broadcasters and not to restrict the distribution of broadcasters’ content over the internet.

“In view of the differentiated debate and corresponding criticism of the merger project by competitors and affected parties, these woodcut-like proposals can only astonish. All the more so because the commitments offered mainly reflect what Vodafone is already obliged to do under existing laws. For example, the opening up of broadband access to equal, non-discriminatory conditions is already laid down in telecommunications regulation. And maintaining net neutrality must be a matter of course even without a commitment,” VAUNET managing director Harald Flemming said in Berlin.

Since the merged company would bundle around 80% of cable subscriptions in Germany, the association fears that it will be easy for Vodafone to dictate the conditions for visibility of content and the commercial conditions for pay-TV and free-to-air TV in future. This would apply not only to carriage fees, but also, for example, exclusivity windows for the distribution of content on the platform and the capacities made available for broadcasting in DVB-C standard as well as access to data.

“The measures proposed by Vodafone do not in any way consider our concerns in the area of cable distribution beyond IPTV and OTT. Nor do they show any improvement in this respect. Our concerns expressed to the Commission thus remain unchanged. We therefore call on the Commission to take them into account in its examination, as outlined,” said Flemming.

The association also criticises Vodafone for making it too easy for the company to simply take over commitments from the Dutch merger between Ziggo and Liberty Global. The market there can’t be compared with the situation in Germany, argues VAUNET, adding that for the very specific German market, regional commitments would have to be made. This was another reason why the commitments submitted to the EU Commission can’t remove the concerns of commercial media providers in Germany.

The opening of the network to broadband products from third parties would in no way reduce Vodafone’s dominant position regarding commercial media received via a cable, criticises VAUNET. Content providers remained “dependent on an agreement with the new monopolist” if they wanted to create an economic basis for their existence in Germany. The existing IPTV and OTT offers had not disrupted the cemented distribution structures in the cable market and this would hardly change even with a new offer.

Classic cable subscribers would rarely change providers, not least because the cable subscription fees are often paid within the service charges associated with the apartment rent, the association points out. Thus, if the merger takes place, the commercial broadcasters’ ‘bread and butter business’ would remain almost exclusively dependent on Vodafone.

German housing association GdW and cable operator association FRK have also strongly criticized the concessions offered by Vodafone, arguing that they would not remove major competitive concerns.

ER-Telecom starts year strongly

By Chris Dziadul

The Russian cable operator ER-Telecom saw a 3.1% increase in its B2C subscriber total in the year to March 31.

In its latest set of results, the company says that as of the end of Q1 it had a total of 6,942,000 active customers. Meanwhile, its consolidated revenue increased by 13% year-on-year to R10,543 million (€145.7 million) and EBITDA by 42% to R4,157 million.

The company’s net profit amounted to R814 million.

In his comments on the results, ER Telecom’s president Andrei Kuzyaev said: “ER-Telecom continues to grow and develop in accordance with the approved strategy. We set ourselves the task to increase the volume of our services and constantly create additional value for our customers. In the first quarter of 2019, the holding’s revenue grew by 13%. EBITDA continues to grow faster than revenue. Its growth was 42%. The key growth factor, as before, is the B2B business based on providing digital services to our customers. ”

German housing industry opposes Vodafone’s concessions

By JΓΆrn Krieger

The German housing industry warns that the planned acquisition of Unitymedia by Vodafone will significantly reduce competition and increase consumer costs for TV, internet and telephony.

“The EU Commission has rightly expressed massive competition concerns to the parties involved in the merger in areas including fibre-optic network deployment, internet and telephony as well as TV signal delivery to apartment blocks. Vodafone’s current commitments largely ignore these remarks and are economically worthless,” Axel Gedaschko, president of Germany housing association GdW, said in Berlin.

In principle, Vodafone offered two commitments to the Commission. Firstly, the company wants to open its cable network for telephony and internet services provided by Telefónica. Secondly, Vodafone wants to commit itself not to restrict TV broadcasters from distributing their content over the open Internet (OTT) and to design the network gateways to the Vodafone network in such a way that sufficient distribution capacities are available.

“This simply does not address the Commission’s fundamental objections”, Gedaschko criticised. For example, the network opening offered exclusively to one provider would “not even slightly meet” the Commission’s concerns in the area of internet and telephony. Instead of the incentives demanded by the Commission for more competition in the internet and telephony sectors and for faster fibre-optic deployment, the offer would have the exact opposite effect. The sales partnership between Vodafone and Telefónica on the Vodafone network would only be positive for the parties directly involved, but not for consumers and competition. If the merger was approved on this basis, the remaining competitors would be squeezed out, leaving only Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone as network operators in the long term, argues GdW.

Gedaschko is particularly disappointed that not a single commitment addresses the negative competitive effects of the merger in the market of TV signal delivery to apartment blocks. There was a danger of Vodafone monopolising the market, which would lead to higher prices and poorer services for the housing industry and its tenants. The contract partner chosen by Vodafone would not change this as it plays no role in this market. The promises in the OTT area are to be welcomed in principle, but in the long run they are a matter of course and insignificant for competition. “The consequence of the merger is a Vodafone that is even more powerful on the market and then operates nationwide,” said Gedaschko.

GdW does not consider Vodafone’s concessions to be suitable for fully compensating the competitive disadvantages of the planned takeover, Gedaschko stressed. “A serious commitment package must at least open up an opportunity to offset the disadvantages. The current offer from Vodafone to the Commission is light years away from this.”

Unitymedia to unlock Sport1 HD during Ice-Hockey World Championship

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German cable operator Unitymedia will drop the encryption of sports channel Sport1 HD during the Ice-Hockey World Championship 2019, enabling all customers to watch the live coverage in HD quality.

The competition, featuring 16 teams including Germany, will take place from May 10-26, 2019 in Slovakia. German free-to-air sports channel Sport1 will transmit most of the games live, including all matches of the German national team.

While the SD version of Sport1 is distributed unencrypted on cable, the HD signal is encrypted with a subscription and smartcard required for reception.

All Unitymedia customers will be able to receive Sport1 HD without encryption and free of charge automatically during the championship. From May 27, the channel will be encrypted again.

Home & Garden TV to join Unitymedia

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Home & Garden TV (HGTV), which Discovery is launching as a free-to-air TV channel in Germany on June 6, 2019, will be available on Unitymedia’s cable network.

From May 28, the German cable operator will show a programme trailer on the channel’s future slot ahead of the launch of the regular service on June 6 at 20.15 CET.

The ad-supported channel is already available to DTH households on satellite, broadcasting unencrypted via Astra (19.2° East) on the frequency 10.921 GHz H (SR 22,000, FEC 7/8).

Further distribution partners will be added ahead of HGTV’s regular launch in German-speaking Europe.

FRK opposes Vodafone’s proposed TelefΓ³nica deal

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German cable operator association FRK rejects the concessions proposed by Vodafone to the European Commission to secure approval of its planned acquisition of Unitymedia from Liberty Global.

The move resembles a “cheap diversion manoeuvre” which would not solve, but further increase the competition problems raised through the merger, criticises FRK.

The exclusive wholesale agreement between Vodafone and Telefónica would not meet the repeated demands of opening the cable network for interested third parties, stressed FRK chairman Heinz-Peter Labonte.

Labonte also criticizes that Vodafone only offers up to 300Mbps internet speed to Telefónica while providing 1Gbps to its own customers. “True open access looks different and has nothing to do with Vodafone’s proposed measures,” he said.

Labonte also announced that FRK would affirm its rejection of the planned takeover in its next submission to the European Commission by May 15, 2019.

Euskaltel’s goals remain in sight

By Chris Dziadul

The Spanish cable operator Euskaltel is on target to gain an additional 30,000 subscribers, as well as secure around €10 million more in revenues, by the end of this year.

The latest results published by the company show that it ended Q1 with 576,800 fixed residential customers, up from 575,700 three months earlier. Its RGU total stood at 2,408,900 at the end of March, with 3.7 RGUs per subscribers and 70.3% of the total being triple or quadruple play.

The RGU total in Q4 2018 stood at 2,388,000 and in the three months to March 31 pay-TV penetration rose by 73.5%.

Euskatel’s total revenues in Q1 were €171.7 million, down 2.8% on the previous year.

Residential revenues accounted for €114.1 million of the total and were 1.8% lower than a year earlier.

T-Mobile Austria and UPC Austria become Magenta Telekom

By JΓΆrn Krieger

German telco Deutsche Telekom unites its Austrian subsidiary T-Mobile Austria with its newly acquired cable operator UPC Austria under the new name Magenta Telekom.

The company, which offers bundled fixed-line and mobile network products, retains the familiar T symbol as its logo.

In December 2017, Telekom had agreed with Liberty Global to acquire the latter’s subsidiary UPC Austria for €1.9 billion. The transaction was completed in July 2018 after the European Commission granted approval without conditions.

In August 2018, Telekom announced that the merged company would adopt a new name.

Slimmed down Liberty sees revenues fall

By Chris Dziadul

Liberty Global saw the revenue of its continuing operations contract by 0.6% to $2.87 billion in Q1.

At the same time, according to the company’s latest set of results, its video RGU total fell by 60,500 during the quarter, compared to 45,200 a year earlier.

The revenue decline was steepest in Switzerland in Q1 (-3.7%) and the only markets showing growth (+2.2%) were the continuing operations in CEE (Poland and Slovakia).

Meanwhile, operating income fell from $117.6 million in Q1 2018 to $105.5 million in the first three months of this year.

Net earning in Q1 amounted to $7 million in Q1, as opposed to a loss of $1.187 million in Q1 2018.

Liberty gained 25,000 cable RGUs in its continuing operations in Q1 compared to a loss of 10,000 a year earlier. UK/Ireland (+59,200) and Poland/Slovakia (+44,000) were the star performers in RGU growth as a whole, while Belgium (-35,700) and Switzerland (42,900) both saw losses.

In Switzerland, UPC lost 23,000 TV customers in Q1, compared to a 32,000 loss in the previous quarter.

This was driven by the rollout of the new UPC TV Box and as of the end of Q1 107,000 had already been deployed in the market.

Significantly, March was also UPC Switzerland’s strongest sales month in the last two years.

Meanwhile, Liberty’s discontinued operations in Germany saw their revenues slump by 10.7% year-on-year to $699.2 million in Q1.The number of TV customers fell by 32,800 in Q1 to 6,267,600.

In his comments on the results, CEO Mike Fries said: “A year ago we announced the sale of our operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic to Vodafone, which represents the largest divestiture in company history. Since deal announcement we have crossed a number of key milestones and the European Commission is currently in the final stages of its review. We are confident that we remain on track for a successful completion of this transaction during the summer. With respect to the sale of UPC Switzerland to Sunrise, the Swiss Competition Authority is now reviewing the case having received formal notification and we anticipate regulatory approval in the fourth quarter. And finally, we are pleased to announce that the sale of our Eastern European DTH business was completed in early May. We will provide updates in due course regarding our capital allocation decisions with the total proceeds from these transactions”.

Vodafone offers concessions to secure Unitymedia acquisition

By JΓΆrn Krieger

Vodafone has offered concessions to gain approval from the European Commission for its planned takeover of Liberty Global’s German cable operator Unitymedia.

With the move, the telecommunications group is reacting to competition concerns expressed by the Brussels authority in its in-depth examination of the proposed transaction.

As a first step, Vodafone has concluded a cable wholesale agreement with Telefónica Deutschland. Following the acquisition, Telefónica will be able to distribute its own cable products via the combined cable networks to a total of 23.7 million households with download speeds of up to 300Mbps.

As a second measure, Vodafone commits itself not to restrict the distribution of TV broadcasters’ content over the internet for OTT services and to design the network gateways in such a way that there is sufficient distribution capacity. The company argues that this should make broadcasters less dependent on the traditional cable TV network and thus on Vodafone.

Vodafone expects the European Commission to decide about the transaction by July 2019 with completion occurring later that month.

“With the acquisition of Unitymedia, we will become Deutsche Telekom’s first nationwide infrastructure competitor,” said Vodafone Deutschland CEO Hannes Ametsreiter. “In addition, we are opening up our cable network to another strong nationwide competitor – Telefónica Deutschland. We are offering our new high-speed partner speeds that are faster than Deutsche Telekom’s fastest VDSL offer. We are also creating even better distribution options for all TV channels, making them even more independent of our cable TV network.”

Whether the concessions will be sufficient for the EU Commission remains to be seen, though. The opening of the cable network for Telefónica does not meet the demands of cable associations and competitors for general open access for third parties and also only refers to a maximum internet speed of 300Mbps and not the full 1Gbps Vodafone offers its own customers in the upgraded areas.

VodafoneZiggo’s video business under pressure

By Robert Briel

During the first quarter VodafoneZiggo’s revenue declined by 1% to €963 million, primarily driven by lower mobile handset sales. The company’s total subscription and service revenue remained flat.

Consumer cable revenue decreased by 1% in Q1. The €5 million decline during the quarter was the net result of (i) a price increase implemented in July, (ii) an increase in converged discounts, (iii) a reduction in telephony and video-on-demand usage, and (iv) lower average RGUs YoY.

Internet and enhanced video RGUs declined by 1,000 and 9,000, respectively, in Q1 due to increased competition, but Q1 consumer cable ARPU increased 1% YoY to €47.

19,000 Ziggo Mediabox XL customers were added in Q1, in line with Q4 additions of 18,000. 43% of the cabler’s enhanced video base use the Ziggo Mediabox XL.

The operator also said it managed a successful soft launch of the new loud-based c4K Mediabox ‘Next’ in March.

β€œSoft” first quarter at Virgin Media

By Julian Clover

It’s become common for telcos to report a reduction in revenues from their traditional phone business. But now it seems that’s also impacting on the cablenets.

In what parent Liberty Global described as “softness”, the UK cablenet saw its Q1 ARPU slip on the back of lower install and telephony usage revenue. There was also a reduction in the number of pay-per-view events available to its TV customers.

In the three months to March 31, 2019, Virgin’s ARPU was down to 51.36, from 51.58 12 months previous.

However, it was far from a bad quarter for Virgin, which put on 60,000 RGU additions.

It also increased its top broadband speed to 500 Mbps, while introducing a new Intelligent WiFi system designed to improve customers’ in home experience.

“Our competitive position remains strong and we continue to extend our reach with Project Lightning, where we are building 400,000-500,000 new premises every year,” said CEO Mike Fries.

Following the sale of businesses in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic to Vodafone, Liberty Global’s Q1 2019 continuing operations operating income was down 10% to $106 million.

Timeless Drama Channel expands to Kosovo

By Chris Dziadul

SPI/FilmBox has launched Timeless Drama Channel (TDC) in Kosovo through a new channel agreement with the cable operator Kujtesa.

As a result, the latter’s subscribers will have 24/7 access to TDC in Albanian.

Commenting on the development, Murat Muratoglu, head of distribution for the Middle East, Ex-Yugo, Baltic States, Bulgaria, Greece, India, Turkey, CIS Countries, APAC at SPI International, said: “Today, it is my pleasure to announce that we have signed a brand new channel distribution agreement with Kujtesa, the leading cable company in Kosovo. A very important aspect of this partnership is that Kujtesa will not only carry our fastest growing channel, TDC but the fact that all TDC programmes will be broadcast in Albanian”.

Elena Cena, chief brand officer at Kujtesa, added: “We at Kujtesa care and dedicate our efforts to continuously create value for our customers and offer the best of the best services. In this case, we are thrilled to be able to do so altogether with SPI/FilmBox and TDC”.

Telenet reports 1,916,800 video customer in Q1

By Robert Briel

Belgian cable operator Telenet served a total of 1,916,800 basic and enhanced video customers as of March 31, 2019.

On a sequential basis, the operator lost 23,100 net video subscribers during Q1 2019, impacted by the churn in the SFR Benelux footprint, which was acquired by Telenet. The net loss excludes migrations to the cabler’s enhanced video service and represents customers churning to competitors’ platforms, such as other digital television, OTT and satellite providers, or customers terminating their video service or having moved out of our service footprint

In Q1 2019 , Telenet served 2,099,800 unique customer relationships, which represented approximately 63% of the 3,357,100
homes passed by the network across its Flemish and Brussels footprint.

In Q1 2019, Telenet provided 4,818,100 fixed services (“RGUs”) consisting of 1,916,800 video, 1,658,100 broadband internet and 1,243,200 fixed-line telephony subscriptions. In addition, approximately 90% of Telenet’s video subscribers had upgraded to the higher ARPU enhanced video platform at March 31, 2019.

As anticipated, the Q1 2019 net subscriber trend for Telenet’s advanced fixed services of enhanced video, broadband internet and fixed-line telephony continued to be impacted by higher churn in the acquired SFR footprint in Brussels as part of the accelerated customer migration. Excluding this impact, the underlying net subscriber trend across the Telenet footprint would have been better and would have shown a sequential improvement relative to the third and fourth quarter of 2018 on the back of our attractive fixed-term promotions and improved all-in-one converged “WIGO” line-up.

“In Q1 2019, we managed to improve our operational performance as we stepped up commercial activities and migrated all remaining former SFR subscribers to our fully upgraded network in Brussels. Our broadband net adds moved back into positive territory and both enhanced video and fixed-line telephony subscriber trends improved significantly, despite intense competition and continued promotional activity,” commented John Porter, Telenet’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Having fully migrated the SFR subscriber base at the end of the first quarter, we are confident to see a further improvement in our operational performance throughout the
remainder of the year. Our fixed-mobile convergence subscriber base is again showing robust growth, with the net addition of over 29,000 fully converged customers, the best performance since Q1 2018. This resulted in around 20% of our customer relationships being subscribed to either a “WIGO” or “YUGO” bundle versus 15% a year earlier.
Thanks to the continued robust uptake of our FMC bundles and the upgraded standalone Telenet and BASE offers, we recorded strong operational performance in our mobile business as well with almost 33,600 net postpaid subscribers added in the quarter, around double the amount of two previous quarters.

“We reconfirmed our leading position as connected entertainment provider by premiering the final Game of Thrones season. A special dedicated Game Of Thrones pop-up bar was launched in Antwerp, where fans can gather to enjoy the most recent episode of season 8. We also continue to focus on local content with the launch of “Grenslanders” and “Geub”, available exclusively in our “Play” and “Play More” entertainment packages. The “Play” and “Play More” subscriber base increased 9% yoy to almost 434,000 subscribers, underpinning the attractiveness of our content portfolio.

“And to offer our customers an even better and more enriched entertainment experience, we just launched a fully new set-top box with voice control, cloud storage and both Netflix and YouTube integration. The set-top box comes with a new application and website. We are absolutely thrilled with this launch, as it is the most advanced high-tech TV device in Belgium, underpinning our focus of being at the forefront of innovation.”

Elisa upgrades HD offer

By Chris Dziadul

Estonia’s leading cable operator Elisa has made HD versions of the main commercial TV channels in the country available to its customers.

As of May 1, all those who opt for its basic TV service can receive TV3, TV6 and TV3+ HD.

In addition, Elisa Elasmus and Klassic cable customers are now being offered TV3 HD, TV6 HD and TV3+ HD free of charge.

The change means that customers will no longer have to pay an additional €3 a month to watch these HD channels.

Virgin Media adds 20 channels to basic package

By Julian Clover

Virgin Media has expanded its offer with creation of a new top tier package and the addition of 20 UK and international channels to basic.

Film 4+1, More 4+1 and Food Network are among the channels added to Player, taking the total number to over 100.

Existing subscribers will also be able to create a personalised TV line-up. They’ll be able to add up to four Entertainment Picks: Entertainment & Drama, Entertainment & Documentaries, Entertainment & Lifestyle and Entertainment & Sport Lite.

Each Pick includes Sky One, Sky Witness, Gold HD and Comedy Central HD and a selection of boxed sets. Customers can add one Pick to their bundle for £10 per month with each subsequent Pick costing £7 per month. Picks can be changed every month.

“Our new Personal Picks mean viewers can tune into the shows they love, picking and mixing the best channels around with the freedom and flexibility to change them every month,” said Lutz Schüler, chief operating officer, Virgin Media.

A dedicated Kids Pick is also available on Player for £5 per month and including 11 channels, such as Disney XD, Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network.

Customers can also add a range of premium TV packs to their bundle such as Sky Sports, Sky Cinema HD and BT Sport, as well as subscribe to Netflix, Hayu and Starzplay.

A new top tier bundle, known as V.VIP, has also been added that includes broadband with average download speeds of 516Mbps, the fastest commercially available offer in the UK, two of Virgin TV’s latest V6 set-top boxes, more than 300 channels including Sky Sports HD, Sky Cinema HD and BT Sport in 4K Ultra HD, as well as inclusive anytime landline calls.