The digital pay TV market in the UK is about to get tighter next year when mobile operator O2 joins the fray, going head to head against major players Sky, Virgin Media and BT, according to a story in the Guardian. O2 has tested the service in the Czech market with encouraging success – especially when the landline penetration in the country is small. Thechallenge there was a little different; first the company had to persuade people to actually take landlines (O2 had bought the landline company), instead of the mobile phones that are almostubiquitous, then try TV through broadband. It was helped by having deals with HBO, Paramount and Warner Bros., as well as owning the rights to broadcast the national ice hockey league – the favorite spot of the Czechs. It gained 70,000 customers sincestarting last September. For the UK, O2 is hoping to extend its deals with program providers for the UK. But IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) is still at the crawling stage in the UK. Even telecomsgiant BT has only attracted 100,000 to its BT Vision service, while rival Tiscali, which grandly announced its Home Choice IPTV service last year, has actuallyseen a drop of 9,000 customers. But none of this has deterred O2, which is owned by Spain’s Telefónica. It will begin trialling theservice in the UK in early 2008, and if that’s successful, will move to a full commercial launch later in the year. O2 already has its own broadband service in the UK after buying Be Broadbandlast year.
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