On Monday 4th December 2006 British Telecom launched BT Vision
), its next generation television service. Why am I blogging about British Telecom and television on a blog aimed primarily at .NET Developers ? The answer is because BT Vision is based on Microsoft’s television software MSTV. MSTV is an IPTV solution that is akin to a client/server version of Media Center and Media Center is written in .NET and runs add-ons written using the .NET Framework. If you want a compelling reason why user interfaces built using technologies like WPF are relevant and more than just flashy animations look at Media Center and BT Vision.
Getting back to the product itself, what do you get ? Well, firstly it is a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) with a hard disk that records "up to 80 hours" of TV. It offers over 40 freeview channels, an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and videos on demand (most are chargeable). BT have signed up lots of content providers to provide channels and video on demand (including music videos) and are offering Premiership matches near-live from the beginning of the 2007/2008 season. The box itself runs various additional applications that let you take advantage of the fact that your set top box (STB) is a fully fledged computer attached to your television and internet connection.
And the best part of all ? It’s free. The STB is free. You have to pay £60 for installation (a BT engineer comes to your house to install the box, connect it to the TV and broadband line) and £30 for connection but the box is free and if you never use video on demand then you’ll only ever pay for the broadband connection (and you probably already pay for that).
The only requirement is that you have (or can get) a 2Mb broadband line. BT won’t install it if your line is less than this and you can’t install the box yourself.
Personally I think this is an exciting step forwards in the television world in the UK and it is an excellent example of what can be achieved with the next wave of user interfaces.