Monday, February 05, 2007

Homechoice Changes

My video and broandband provider is Homechoice. Back in November, they were bought out by Tiscali, but not much has changed. According to this article, changes are afoot from March 1. Homechoice is currently limited to London and Stevenage, after March 1st, they plan to roll it out to other parts of the UK. They plan to go from 50,000 subscribers to 5 million (I guess that not only is every Homechoice customer becoming a Tiscali customer, but every broadband Tiscali customer is set to become a Homechoice customer).

According to the article, the TV will be bundled with the broadband access (no change there) but that the telephony option will be extra for £5 a month (apparently it's currently bundled, but I've never taken the option). No word on if we get new channels (the channel range is pretty poor compared to cable and Sky), but if they want it to succeed they're going to have to increase the channel range - one of the main reasons why I have stuck with Homechoice is that it is that I can't get cable (even though I live in London, there's no cable TV where I live), I can't get Sky (thanks to a tree), I can't get Freeview (the community aerial doesn't work with Freeview and I've never been able to get anything digital with "rabbit ears") and finally, since the really windy day a few weeks back, I can't even get analogue TV as that community aerial is now sitting in the back garden. So while it's Homechoice or no TV for me, most people aren't in that boat.

One good thing - it looks like we're in for a new box (which I hope they don't start charging for - seeing as I'm now on my 9th or 10th box thanks to upgrades and hardware failures) which will have 160Gb hard drive (as well as HD). So I might be able to retire the TiVo before it dies.

One thing I'm worried about is that the service might degrade - it's actually a 27Mb/s ADSL connection with a really, really low contention ratio as the original VOD service required a lot of bandwidth. A few years ago the service was upgraded - the new MPEG 4 based service brought a smaller box that needs less bandwidth for TV and the download bandwiths were increased. I now have 4Mb/s service that actually delivers 4Mb/s - I'm concerned that contention might increase if we get bundled in with all the Tiscali broadband subscribers.

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