Belgian Billi unveils its Billibox
10.56 Europe/London, December 16, 2011 By Robert Briel
The independent Belgian telecoms operator Billi has launched its over-the-top Billibox TV service offering a very basic bouquet of TV channels and access to its VOD service.
The new Billibox is available in retail for €99 and gives access to nine mainstream French language TV channels, the three Walloon public channels from RTBF, La Une, La Deux and La Trois, international news channels Euronews and France 24, and four public French channels, France 2, France 3, France 4 and France 5.
A monthly subscription costs €4.99 and is available on everyone with a regular broadband connection from any provider, including Telenet and Belgacom. However, a minimum connection speed of 4 Mbps is recommended.
Apart from the basic bouquet, the BilliBox also offer access to the company’s VOD library of movies, which currently comprises around 2,000 titles.
Broadband TV Views. Although the initial offer of the BilliBox is very modest, the concept is challenging. The set-top box offers OTT access not just to VOD content, but to mainstream live TV channels as well – regardless of the broadband service provider.
Although the offer is initially aimed at French-speaking customers, Billi said it will add Dutch language channels some time next year. The service could appeal to people who are looking to have just a basic TV offer with access to VOD.
As far as we know this is the very first service in the world to offer access to live streaming channels on a dedicated box. In the Netherlands, Eindhoven-based company iPhion is looking at developing a similar service, but has so far restricted its offer to a regular digital TV service over FTTH.
In theory, such a service can be extended to offer any number of streaming channels – both mainstream and niche. In the real world, mainstream broadcasters might be unwilling to licence their content to such services as they do not want to jeopardise their existing distribution deals with established platforms.