France Télécom-owned cellphone network Orange has linked with sibling internet service provider Wanadoo to launch a new "free" broadband TV service in the UK later this year.
The move is a head-on challenge to Britain's largest telco BT, which in March announced its own broadband service, BT Vision, due to go live this summer [WAMN: 22-Mar-06].
Orange's offering, for which there will be no direct charge, targets the network's cellphone customers who spend more than £30 a month and are willing to sign an 18-month contract.
The deal provides a set-top box complete with personal video recorder, with viewing options that include all Freeview's digital terrestrial TV channels, seven-day catch-up TV and video on demand.
Orange also hopes to broadcast Premiership League soccer matches if it can reach a deal with rights-holders BSkyB and Irish firm Setanta.
A similar service already operates in France under the name MaLigne TV which [understandably] from today will adopt the Orange brand. Subscribers to the French service will be able to watch the soccer World Cup and French Open tennis championships in high-definition TV.
No firm date for the launch of Orange TV's UK service has yet been announced.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff