Advanced Television

Free’s new box set and package

December 14, 2010

From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris

French broadband and IPTV supplier Free (part of the Iliad group) has unveiled its new box and package with Iliad’s chairman Xavier Niel describing the new box as a “revolution”.  It consists, in fact, of a pair of boxes, designed by the leading stylist Philippe Starck. The modem box has a fibre and ADSL modem, with a built in router, four 1000 MB/s Ethernet ports, Mimo WiFi, 250 GB hard disk with home media server (NAS), VOIP with a DECT base for up to eight phones and a range of other connectors.

The second box connects to the TV, with features such as 400 TV channels (185 in the basic package), catch-up TV, full Internet browser on the TV, built-in 3D Blu-Ray player, gyroscopic remote control integrated games player, ‘freestore’ applications for download and revamped interface. Additionally, the subscriber can connect to their home Freebox and stream their content from any Internet connected device round the world, particularly I-phone/I-pad and Android tablets. The new Freebox has been in development since 2006.

The new package will also include unlimited calls to all French mobile telephones. The existing package, in place for eight years now, includes unlimited calls to land lines in 100 destinations as well as IPTV and broadband (up to 28 MB/s). The price has been stable at €30 since it launched. However, those opting for full unbundling (i.e. no longer paying the France Telecom line rental) will pay an extra €6 a month, “which is a massive saving on the €100 per month packages for unlimited calls to mobiles,” Niel pointed out, taking the opportunity to list the numbers for cancelling subscriptions to rival mobile services.

Free was earlier this year authorised as a new mobile operator in France and its relations with the other operators are strained. This latest move, which comes barely a month after rival SFR launched its ‘Evolution’ box, is likely to intensify competition.

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