September 19, 2013 11.10 Europe/London By Robert Briel
Barcelona – CTAM EUROSUMMIT 2013. Liberty Global might take its Horizon product beyond just TV.
Speaking at the Rey Juan Carlos Hotel, Liberty Global’s Peter Dorr painted a picture of future Horizon services that could include a nationwide and even Europe-wide network of free hot spots for Horizon customers.
Such a network would also allow for an alternative mobile phone service that would allow customers to make calls from their mobile at regular fixed line prices.
UPC has just launched a trial of free wi-fi hot spots in the Netherlands where wireless internet is offered by turning home routers into hot spots. The country’s other operator, Ziggo, has already activated over one million of such hot spots across its footprint.
“Why not connect the two networks?” said Dorr, “and all of a sudden we have a free wi-fi network for all cable customers. Unlimited wireless internet at many locations with a one-off authentication. And at the next level we can do it for other countries…”
Dorr also said the company learned from its first twelve months of experience with the Horizon box. “It would be naive to think you can launch a product of this technical complexity without any bugs.”
Dorr said they listened to consumer complaints and have addressed the most frequent complaints. “Lucklily, the box is software driven, so we can modify it.”
The main complaints were that navigation was too slow; too many clicks needed to navigate;
important shortcut buttons were missing; it was not easy to move back to previous channel; the UI is too dominant; keywords for search was unfriendly and the overview of categories and options was unclrear.
All these issues were addressed with a firmware upgarde, which the company calls code H2. But in addition to that, a new remote control was also send to all 270,000 customers who still had version one. The new one includes shortcut buttons to PVR, on-demand, the EPG and back to TV as well as a qwerty keyboard on the back for easy inputting text.
Next for Horizon is also a companion box, that pairs with the gateway. The new box only need electrvity, its i a wifi box that streams TV, PVR, VOD and home content toasny room and TV in the house. “It will extend Horizon beyond the living room.”
There were 300,000 Horizon sets in the three markers where it launched on June 30, 2013. And around 400,000 people activated the Horizon TV service. Horizon is now available in The Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland and it just launched in Germany.