Darty to launch virtual fibre HD service

From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris

French retail chain Darty (owned by the UK Kesa Electricals group) is to launch an ultra high speed (100 Mb/s) service on November 4th, using Completel-Numericable's optical fibre and cable network.

Completel-Numericable had already announced in September that it was going to make its network available to other operators. Darty has been operating a triple play ADSL service for two years using Completel (now merged with Numericable) ADSL network, for which it has 150,000 subscribers. The new high speed service has a potential reach of 8 million homes – 2.7 million homes are already passed by fibre, to reach 4 million by the end of the year, plus 4 million cable. The cost will be E30 per month, plus E5 for the HD TV decoder and E3 for the modem. A PVR with 160 GB hard disc will be available as an option for E5 a month. The service includes VOIP with unlimited calls to landlines in 44 countries and 60 SD TV s (with another 40 channels optional) and 15 (20 in 2009) HD TV channels.

Darty intends to use its reputation in brown goods for its quality of service as its main marketing point, as well as its strong presence in the high street. Its 8 point charter includes a 24/7 hotline and free home installation and maintenance.

Darty's target is to reach the breakeven point, 300,000 subscribers, before April 2010.

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