Cable merchants will offer Video On Demand

Both UPC and the soon-fused cable operators Casema, Essent Kabelcom and Multikabel will offer video-on-demand (VOD) services. Both companies announced this Friday at the Cable conference in the 21st century in Amsterdam. UPC will start on April 16 with the first VOD service for all UPC Digital TV customers who watch via the UPC MediaBox

Both UPC and the soon-fused cable operators Casema, Essent Kabelcom and Multikabel will offer video-on-demand (VOD) services. Both companies announced this Friday at the Cable conference in the 21st century in Amsterdam.

UPC will start on April 16 with the first VOD service for all UPC Digital TV customers who watch via the UPC MediaBox.

In the Netherlands, UPC had been offering 'near video on demand' (NVOD) for some time, where a limited number of films could be viewed at fixed times. However, this month the cable car starts with an offer of about 35 recently released films and a choice of 200 films from a library. In addition, there will be 250 hours of TV programs and series available via a subscription (S-VOD), including approximately 75 hours with children's programs such as Pieter Post, Teletubbies, Tweenies, Boes and Miffy and Friends. UPC also offers a selection of television programs that are free to view (Free VOD). For the real blockbusters viewers will have to pay at a time.

The VOD application has already been tested at around 500 users. On 16 April UPC starts VoD in Gelderland and Brabant, an area with approximately 60, 000 digital TV customers. The further roll-out in other regions will gradually take place in the months that follow. "This has to do with the fact that we are going to put servers in the head stations, so that we are closer to the consumer, " says managing director Diederik Karsten. "We only have a limited number of people for this specialized job."

Bernard Dijkhuizen, the presumably new director of the new (still nameless) cable group, also announced a "full VOD service" for films, music, children's programs, Missed Broadcast and regional programs. According to Dijkhuizen, it is the first VOD service in Europe based on HDTV. Consumers get a decoder with a hard disk. The service will be introduced after the summer.

Dijkhuizen also announced that his company is planning to offer mobile telephony. The company follows the example of UPC, which already has a prepaid package via Orange. Which party Dijkhuizen is going to work with is not yet known. Karsten from UPC wants to expand the mobile services and, for example, also offer content. "That is not so easy, because copyright aspects are involved."
The mobile services are a response to DVB-H, or mobile telephony, with which KPN wants to start this fall. Baptiest Coopmans, member of KPN's board of directors, told the cable conference that he expects a "smooth roll-out" of this new service.